People who have had migraines for years know how emotionally risky it can feel to open themselves up to the idea of improvement. It’s hard to explain why this is the case. The process of repeatedly entertaining the notion of being released from unrelenting pain just to learn that it’s not possible is very painful. It is something akin to closing your eyes and pursing your lips for a first kiss just to be punched in the face.
There’s such promise and vulnerability wrapped up in the moment you allow yourself to believe that wellness can be yours. It is a huge leap of faith. You are letting down the armor that you’ve learned to wear after years of suiting up for the daily battle against migraine. You do so because the shields you carry are heavy and the idea of running free and without pain is so enticing. So, you try. Because what do you have to lose? That’s what many people ask. What’ve you got to lose?
Well, let’s break this down. Hope is what drives us to pursue solutions, right? It’s hope for improvement. Hope for a pain free life, or a pain free day, even. Hope for a better life. Hope for more quality time with our families. Hope to return to our careers, to productivity. A normal life. When we decide to roll the dice and try this or that new potential solution or treatment for migraine, there’s so much hope wrapped up in that gamble.
Ironically, the very thing that drives you to pursue a solution is exactly the same thing you risk losing: hope. When the treatment du jour doesn’t work for you, that’s what you lose: hope. Maybe not all hope, not all at once, but with each unsuccessful treatment, it’s easy to lose a little more hope. It’s reasonable for your outlook to feel more bleak than it was before, because the deck feels stacked against you. If this or that solution worked for everyone but me, what’s wrong with me? Why not me? Why am I the only one that nothing works for?
All the while, well-meaning people keep tossing ideas at us left and right as if we’d be crazy not to spend our life trying every single potential treatment out there. We’ve all heard it: “Have you heard of [INSERT name of treatment]? I heard it worked great for my friend’s sister-in-law! It completely stopped her migraines and turned her life around! You should try it!” Acupuncture, light therapy, massage therapy, chiropractors, ear staples, enrollment in unproven studies, and on and on.
And yet, there will always be the nagging hope that the perfect solution is out there for each of us. What if you don’t try a solution that is THE solution? What if there is something out there that could help you? Fix your migraines? How do we know what works and what doesn’t if we haven’t tried every single thing? Of course, we don’t. But each of us has the right to determine for ourselves when to try new treatments, and when to take a break. We have to recognize that every attempt requires energy and hope. And with migraines, energy is finite. Pacing ourselves, and accepting where we are as we seek treatment solutions is important so we can maintain some hope. While I am not thrilled with my migraine status, overall, I am at peace with the fact that I have chronic migraines and that most treatment solutions currently available are not well-suited for me. With that in mind, I spend what energy I do have with my family and doing things I love while keeping hope in my heart for future treatment solutions that might work for me.