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Sometimes I Feel Like a Broken Record

Sometimes I Feel Like a Broken Record

I’ve come a long way in terms of accepting a life with migraine. After four years of frequent disability I no longer worry about this disease ruining my life, in fact I’m incredibly fortunate and proud to have been able to re-build my life around it. I no longer grieve on a regular basis for the things it has taken from me because I’ve found new things to fill that void. Most days, I no longer feel that migraine is a burden too heavy to bear. But there are moments when all of that crumbles, and those moments are almost always when I must speak or text some version of “Sorry, I can’t. I have a migraine.”

The thing about migraine attacks being chronic, frequent, or even monthly, is that unless you’re a master of disguise (which I’m not), they’re probably going to come up in conversation often.

“I wasn’t able to do anything today. I had a wicked migraine.”

“Yeah, let’s do that if I don’t have a migraine attack.”

“I just chatting online with folks about migraine.”

“Sorry. I can’t. I have a migraine.”

Migraine.

Migraine.

Migraine.

Sigh.

I’m tired of hearing the words come out of my mouth, so lately I’ve started referring to migraine as “the pains” or say I’m feeling “under the weather” and announcing the onset of an attack by saying “I’m going down.” For particularly bad ones I like to say, “that was a doozey.”

But trying to minimize the actual word migraine in my life hasn’t changed its effect on my life. The same unwanted situations keep happening over, and over, and when any of these words tumble out of my mouth, I notice an immediate feeling of defeat, disappointment, and tedium. It doesn’t seem to matter how many times I congratulate myself for thriving despite migraine, for creating new markers of success, or for handling situations as graciously as I can, I still hate the words as they leave my mouth to announce that I am having yet another pain attack.

I imagine the way to acceptance as a frustratingly infinite road, but one that can get easier along the way, and feeling like a broken record is surely a clue that there’s another hurdle right in front of me. I don’t want to feel or like a broken record, or anything broken for that matter.

Perhaps by coincidence, or perhaps not, I recently revisited one of my favorite books about living with illness, How to be Sick by Toni Bernhard. In my favorite chapter, Healing the Mind by Living in the Present Moment, Bernhard shares strategies for how to focus on the present. I found when I was using those strategies, the words “Sorry, I can’t, I have a migraine,” started to lose some of their darkness. I might have to cancel plans, lie in bed, and put all action on hold, but when I am focused on the coziness of my sheets, the feel of an ice pack on my neck, and the knowledge that I will feel better by morning, my reality doesn’t seem as bad. By contrast, when I say “Sorry, I can’t, I have a migraine,” and I’m thinking about alllll the other times I’ve had to say that phrase, I’m really dealing with anxiety about the past (how many times have I had to talk about having a migraine?) and the future (how many more times will I have to go through this?). But the present: it’s not so bad. I can deal with that.

I doubt uttering the phrase “Sorry, I can’t, I have a migraine” will every make me feel like I’m walking on sunshine, but I’d like to get to a place where I can say it without acute feelings of despair.

How have you worked to accept migraine in your life?

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

Comments

  • yirogers
    3 years ago

    Thank you for sharing. I laughed out loud because I can relate. Sometimes we need to hear, out loud, that someone feels the same way, which is why I came to the sitetoday, after not being here in awhile.

    I usually try to be a master of disguise when having a migraine, which can be really hard to do when you have your sunglasses on INSIDE, and it’s overcast/rainy outside to boot.

    So thank you for sharing. You’re story made me feel better and was just what I needed to hear right now.

  • Brooke H moderator
    3 years ago

    Hi BerkelyCA1979, Thank you so much for taking the time to share. We’re glad you’re back! What you shared about the benefits of connection and know you’re not the only one is a big reason we’re here. Please come anytime for support or on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MigraineDotCom/. Warmly, Brooke (Migraine.com team)

  • 1.Sportsmom
    3 years ago

    I too echo your words! Almost took my breath right from my own lungs. It’s even worse when your own husband doesn’t want to hear it anymore. It’s broken me at times. But I just keep thinking about the new things I have been doing. I have started my art again after almost twenty years because it calms my mind and anxiety. So what my house is a pig pen right now, I know when I am up to it and myself I’ll give it a go. But yes this week has been a real doozy for me! Which leads me to say thank you for saying how I felt these last few months there.

  • DonnaFA moderator
    3 years ago

    Hi 1.Sportsmom! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Please know that we’re always here to lend support on those hard days.

    It would be awesome if you’d like to share some of your art on our Facebook page, we’d love to see!

    Thanks for being part of the community, we’re glad you’re here! -All Best, Donna (Migraine.com team)

  • countingYesdays
    3 years ago

    You are so right in everything you write.
    I have tried to switch up my reply when cancelling so many times.
    The thing that gets me down is never being able to fully plan ahead.
    The feeling of deceiving new friends when not teeling they right away that I have chronic migraine so they know what they are getting into.
    But you know what – you need to be a very strong person to endure not being able to live the life you want.
    So all of you in here remember that you have a strength within

  • Robbie
    3 years ago

    Thank you for your allusion to a broken record. I feel like that too – also around foods. “No thank you, that food gives me migraines.” and “It’s too hot for me to go out. I’ll get a migraine.” etc. etc. etc.!

  • yirogers
    3 years ago

    Yes,yes! Some days, it feels like you can’t eat anything.

  • Joanna Bodner moderator
    3 years ago

    Hi Robbie,
    Sorry to hear that unfortunately you could relate all to well to this! So terribly frustrating that it affects nearly all facets of your life.
    Thanks for taking the time to let others know that they too are not alone.
    Take care,
    Joanna (Migraine.com Team)

  • Cocodog
    3 years ago

    “I’m going down” is a warning to my husband that he will be own his own for the next few days. How interesting to find someone else use the same phrase. Is my constant “I’m getting a migraine” phrase old after 9 years of chronic vestibular and hemiplegic migraines old? Yes! Is the inability to use a computer or go to a movie old? Yeah! Is watching my husband do way more than share old? Yes! Or is it fun to watch my husband do everything? Maybe? Is the constant discounting of my illness from family, friends and doctors old? Yes! (Your getting the hang of this.)
    Is my constant search for a cure exhausting? Yes! Is my loss of identity in my career devastating. Yes! Is 12-15 headaches a month very old. Yes. Do I need acceptance of myself and others! Yes. I’m working on it. Is there a spiritual lesson here of some sort! Yes. And more is revealed to me everyday. Are my Empathic abilities surfacing because of my illness? Yes! But is despair still my pal in a pre migraine 12 hour suicidal depression. Yes. Do I allow a pity party now and then? Probably more than I should. Am I truly grateful for the experience? Mostly.

  • DonnaFA moderator
    3 years ago

    Hi Cocodog, it’s kind of awesome to see someone else have conversations in their head, I do it all the time! (I’m an intuitive empath as well – small world, right?)

    Thanks for being part of the community, and for sharing your thought and introspection. -All Best, Donna (Migraine.com team)

  • Maddy
    3 years ago

    To all posters on this story, have you tried DAO enzyme? It may help you. There is a study out of Spain which show that 87% of migraine patients there have low DAO function. This means you have elevated histamine because your body fails to break down the histadine in food. Other symptoms of high histamine…motion sickness, easy nosebleeds, food allergies or intolerances, GERD or IBS, elevated cortisol. Just about every supplement recommended for migraine…riboflavin, magnesium, butterburr, etc are involved with DAO, MAO or HNMT enzyme function. Amitryptiline is an antihistamine, which blocks receptors. Topamax is a calcium channel blocker which stabilizes mast cells and prevents them from degranulating and releasing histamine. Get genetic testing, 23andme, run results through genetic genie and see if you have issues with those 3 enzymes. You can buy the enzyme on Amazon and just try it. Take 1-2 caps everything before you eat and try low histamine diet.

  • Susan Mayhew
    3 years ago

    Oh boy do I relate to this topic. I have had migraine since early childhood and I still have issues with cancelling plans. I have one particular friend who tells me more or less to get on with life. She feels sad for me because of what I am missing from my life. Don’t I know this! I managed to have two children, a part time job and has my parents became vulnerable spent years attending them. Plus attending my uncle when he became ill. Now I am retired migraine seems to a be constant companion not a thing I had planned or hoped for in the Autumn of my life. Thank you for your post. I am not alone.

  • DonnaFA moderator
    3 years ago

    Hi Susan, We’re glad that the story resonated with you. Please know that, no, you are never alone. We’re always here to share information, stories, support or just to listen.

    I’d like to also invite you to our Facebook page, if you haven’t already visited. Thanks for being part of the community. -Warmly, Donna (Migraine.com team)

  • SPSwafford
    3 years ago

    I can relate to this quite well. Thank you for the post. I think it could help me as I feel such defeat when I get a migraine which I have chronic migraine so it is often. I even have tried to hide it from my boss before. Crazy. I think it’s a denial thing for me that I have so many or that it is affecting my life so much. I definitely feel the anxiety. I think I should check into reading the book you mentioned. Thank you again.

  • DonnaFA moderator
    3 years ago

    Hi, SPSwafford. We’re glad that this article spoke to you. Please know that you are not alone and that we’re always here to share information and support. Have you checked out our Facebook page yet?

    We’d love to know, if you choose to read the book, if you found it helpful. Thanks for being part of the community. -All Best, Donna (Migraine.com team)

  • Kpandes
    3 years ago

    Actually, I’m finding that I tell people less and less that I have a migraine — because I can’t stand how repetitive and boring it is. And I admit that I feel like it must be boring for the people around me. Does my boss really want to hear that I have another migraine, as sympathetic as she is? Unless it’s a major one that has totally debilitated me, I generally keep it to myself these days and work through it as best I can with my rescues (totally relate to your comment, Myra). Not sure if anyone can relate….

  • yirogers
    3 years ago

    I can relate . . .

  • Poe15
    3 years ago

    Wow. I was thinking of posting a question precisely about this topic on one of the forums. I always wonder how much I should tell other people about why I can’t do things – especially co-workers. Though I am lucky enough to have considerable job security, and though through lifestyle changes I can manage my migraines so that I can still perform approximately 85 % of my job well, I have difficulty attending many meetings (lots of people talking and a toxic atmosphere are triggers), and I no longer socialize with my co-workers – or anyone else, for that matter. In part, it’s because I got tired of sounding like a broken record – but I also increasingly find lots of people talking (see above) very stressful – and I do much better if I spend a lot of time alone at home, where it is quiet. I don’t trust my workplace (toxic and mean), so I have not mentioned my chronic migraines to that many, however. Recently, I was invited to a wedding and declined, and have been wondering if I should tell the inviter why I declined (wedding to be held at a place at high altitude, lots of people, lots of noise, and a two-hour drive home, which I obviously could not do if I got a migraine). I don’t know what to do about all this – but I’m glad that I’m not the only one!

  • Teresa
    3 years ago

    Thanks so much for your focus on this topic! I was saying to myself just today as I told my sister; “I have ANOTHER migraine.”

  • Writermom
    3 years ago

    Hi, Anna! You are much further along in your journey than I am. I still try to plan events or tasks for both today, tomorrow and a few days ahead. Since I have chronic daily migraine, I usually accomplish about 1/2 of what I have planned, if that much. And, I usually feel pretty lousy at not being as productive as I once was. I am retired, and that is a huge blessing, as there is no way I could work any longer with the migraines everyday. I feel as though I’m a pretty sorry partner for my husband, who has back issues, as I need so much rest and spend so much time lying down. Some people say, “just go on and do what you want to…” but when one’s head is hurting so much a person can barely think straight, reading becomes almost impossible (one of my most favorite things, and retaining anything in one’s brain is so difficult, I believe those people who say that have never had the experience. There’s no permanent cure or prevention. It is a chronic illness that may be with you the rest of your life, as my father’s and mother’s was. My cousin has seen countless doctors and they have finally told him they can’t do anything more for him. He will have to live with this the rest of his life, too. All these things can be very discouraging and it is hard to find any bright side to look upon. So, congratulations, for being able to get past this. Maybe I will try to read the book you mentioned.

  • grammayumyum
    3 years ago

    Hi, Writermom,
    I am mega-grateful for books on tape/disc when I have a migraine (and I have chronic basilar migraine disease). A friend told me to contact my state’s talking book library. I assumed it was only for people who are blind or vision-impaired. She reminded me that on migraine days I’m too weak to sit upright and hold a book for long, my vision and thinking are too befuddled to process print, I can’t tolerate the light needed to read a book, and I HATE the isolation needed to recover. My doctor recommended me to the talking book library, and now, whenever I’m down, I lie in bed and listen to someone entertain me (LOL). I can set the tone of voice on the machine so it doesn’t irritate my brain, I can set the speed of speech so my slow-functioning brain can process it, I can lie down in a dark room, and I no longer feel so isolated from the rest of the world!

  • Anna Eidt author
    3 years ago

    Hi Writermom.

    It is indeed all these things. The ability to read during an attack was one of the first activities to return to me when I finally found a triptan that helped. I hope you will find things that help! That book really does have some gems. Toni Bernhard is mostly unable to leave her bed and somehow manages to thing good thoughts. She was certainly an inspiration for me. All the best to you!!

  • Myra
    3 years ago

    I do what I must during migraine. Then I do what I can without migraine.

  • katdan1026
    3 years ago

    I’m still struggling to accept my new normal even after 3 years. I too get tired of canceling things and not being able to make plans,always because you’re not sure if a migraine will let you. Or worse, showing up, then having to explain that you’re leaving early because of a migraine. You hate saying that word so much and begin to wonder if non-migrainers believe you. I totally understand where you are coming from.

  • Brooke H moderator
    3 years ago

    Hi Katdan1026, Thank you for taking the time to post. We appreciate that you found the article one you could relate to. I’m sorry you are coping with chronic migraine and its impact on your social life. You are not alone! Please give yourself time to adjust to the ups and downs of migraine. I thought this article may be of interest to you: https://migraine.com/blog/the-well-of-grief/. Please come here anytime for support. Best, Brooke (Migraine.com team)

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