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What Does My Self Portrait Look Like With Chronic Migraine?

I think perception is an important aspect of how I see myself and others. I often reflect on the life I was living before migraine disease moved in. I was a very different person, or should I say how I perceived myself, was different. My sense of self-worth was much different then compared to now.

How did I see myself before migraine?

I have learned from my good friend, mentor, and pastor, Timothy Coats, that the self-portrait we paint for ourselves is crucially important in our future development. My self-portrait before migraine was strikingly different from now, as I live with chronic migraine, comorbid conditions, and various accompanying symptoms.

How is my confidence threatened?

In my experience, I’ve found that many people struggle with insecurity and self-esteem issues. These are not even people who are living with illness. Many of the people I interact with are perfectly healthy. One thing my friend Tim made clear to me is that every battle we face, spiritual or otherwise, is an attack on our confidence. For me, living with an illness that is becoming progressively more impactful in my life is difficult. It will certainly affect my confidence and my self-portrait if I allow it to live in my mental space.

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What makes up a self-portrait?

I have reconstructed my self-portrait over the years of progressing illness. My canvas is more of a whiteboard that allows changes as circumstances unfold. I still hold firmly to the foundation of my self-portrait and build off that. Tim has created The Law of the Self-Portrait and describes it as a triangle. The legs of his Confidence Triangle are self-image, self-esteem, and self-talk. I use these legs to support my portrait. Another way to look at this is as a visualization of your future. If you live with illnesses, your vision may be quite different from someone who has no illness in their lives.

How has my self-portrait changed?

I had a busy and successful life before migraine disease wrapped its tentacles around my life. My self-portrait reflected who I was at the time. My self-image was positive. I had an acceptable level of self-esteem, and I kept self-talk positive and hopeful. I lived my life according to my self-portrait. Migraine disease has a way of disrupting everything. It quickly turned my self-portrait into a Jackson Pollock-style painting by slinging all its symptoms and side effects onto the canvas. My self-portrait changed from a big passionate doorway to the future into a depression-induced rendering of my survival. I let migraine disease destroy my self-portrait, but only briefly.

How has migraine impacted how I see myself?

Migraine had piled on a ton of things to be insecure about. I no longer saw myself as reliable, strong, or an effective leader. I began to devalue myself by crushing my self-esteem. My self-talk was more prayer during this time than anything else. It was still positive, but the light of hope was flickering and dim. I leaned into my faith, and it strengthened me spiritually and physically. I had the power to determine my self-worth. I was determined to rebuild my self-portrait again. I began by ditching all the negative self-talk and replacing it with positivity and hope. I filled the darkness of migraine with the light of hope fueled by unwavering faith. Proverbs 18:21 says, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” I’ll take the fruits of positivity over negativity!

How do I see myself now?

We can only rise to the level of our own self-portraits. How we see ourselves, think about ourselves, and talk to ourselves determines our self-portraits. My self-portrait is very different than it once was, but it is as big and passionate as it was before migraine. It took time, prayer, and accepting the help of others to clear away the darkness and create a fresh, new self-portrait to live into. I’ve learned that how I look at myself is more important than how others see me. The journey is entwined with life’s changes, but I know I can use the tools I’ve acquired over time to make whatever modifications I need to keep my self-portrait bright.

Do you see yourself differently because of migraine and its baggage? Please share your thoughts in the comments if you feel comfortable doing so.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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