Person awash with waves of grief and guilt from overwhelming feelings

Migraine: The Gift That Keeps On Giving!

Last updated: February 2023

I often look at migraine as a gift that keeps on giving! Not to be overly fatalistic or negative, but truly, if you live with migraine, have you ever wondered when it is going to stop?

What doesn't migraine impact?

I mean, each of us tends to grow up with hopes and dreams. We may be focused on getting into a certain career, want to be married, have children, be active in society, make a difference… just be present! And then, migraine enters into the picture, and everything changes. Literally everything! Whether you started having migraine attacks in early childhood, late teens, in college, mid-life, or even in your retirement years, this is a disease that impacts everything… again… and again… and again. In short, it is the gift that keeps on giving.

When did my migraine attacks start?

I first started having migraine attacks in early childhood. In fact, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have debilitating attacks that would bring my life to a complete halt. I’m not talking about a slight headache that could be ignored if I put my mind to it. No! I’m talking about agonizing pain, vomiting, and movement sensitivity so severe that even breathing would often seem too much to bear.

How has my perspective changed?

It took me a long time to start to figure out a new and different approach to life with migraine. If I’m honest, many decades and a lot of “work”… work that is ongoing, but so very worth it. I started looking at the “gift that kept on giving” from a new perspective, and it has been life-changing in many ways. Here are five things that help me ground myself whenever I feel like this “gift” is too much to deal with:

How do I grieve the losses?

Grieving the losses means being honest with yourself about what migraine has taken. Looking at the lost dreams, changed plans, hurt from others who don’t understand, financial impact, and endless time spent managing an incurable disease. It means facing the pain, allowing yourself to cry, and even being angry that things haven’t turned out the way you had hoped. Grieving is an important stage in loss, but it’s something that can be hard to face, and it’s all too easy to stuff our emotions so deep that we withdraw from life. Grieving helps us get “unstuck” emotionally and helps us move forward.

Why don't I look at the challenges positively?

In modern society, there is a huge emphasis on “positive thinking” and bringing “good things” into reality as we focus on them. For those of us who live with a chronic disease like migraine, this is often not realistic and can be very damaging. The reality is that the challenges are all too real. Not being willing to face them or trying to “positive think” our way out of them can result in the disease getting worse, attacks that may have been prevented, over-medicating, depression, and anger. When we are realistic about the challenges, we are able to regroup and figure out a healthier way to live with migraine. It helps put some of the control back into our hands!

What choices do I make?

This may seem insignificant, but being able to focus on the things we CAN do rather than those we CANNOT makes a huge difference. Like:

  • Having a movie night at home with friends and family instead of going to a loud movie theater.
  • Cooking a holiday meal with your children instead of expecting to prepare a large meal by yourself.
  • Having friends over for a game night instead of going to a party.
  • Planning a staycation instead of traveling far away. Spending time sitting in your garden reading or taking a short walk somewhere scenic.

All these things can create treasured memories that you can hold onto during the tough times!

What blessings can it give?

While migraine impacts every part of our lives, it also can bring unexpected blessings in its wake. This can be tough to recognize because it feels as though it’s “not fair.” And quite frankly, it’s not! However, the blessings can be all too real! Discovering amazing friendships in the migraine community can be life-changing. Slowing down your life and looking for things to do locally or at home can strengthen relationships. Living with an unpredictable and often debilitating disease can even result in finding a new passion for helping others and making a difference in their lives. Not blessings that we necessarily expect, but all too real nonetheless!

What about the future?

Once we have grieved the losses, been realistic about the challenges, learned to treasure the small things, and have started seeing the blessings, then we are better able to face the future. So many people with migraine, and especially with chronic migraine, feel hopeless and as though life is not worth living. However, while the life we dreamed about and hoped for may not be realistic, our lives still have value and purpose. And sometimes, we may even discover new opportunities and joy that we never expected.

So let us know how you see life with migraine. Do you see it as the gift that keeps on giving? How easy is it for you to grieve your losses and be realistic about the challenges? What are some of the small things that you can treasure, and have any unexpected blessings come into your life that help you embrace the future with hope?

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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.

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