How to Turn the Corner When You're Feeling Down
When fending off the severe and relentless pain related to migraine, it can be very hard to remember times of wellness. However, doing so is key when it comes to managing life with this disease. The truth is, migraine can involve a roller coaster ride of gut wrenching pain followed by windows of clarity and wellness. How do we keep our eye on the horizon and maintain the important perspective that pain will pass when it is all consuming?
When pain pulls us under
Most of us can recall times we have lost our perspective and felt consumed by migraine. The relentless nature of migraine with its related and comprehensive symptoms are enough to bring anyone to their knees. Vomiting for multiple days, not being able to sleep, an inability to handle light and sound means that there's nowhere we can go to get comfortable. Any movement exacerbates the pain so we are left paralyzed and simply wait for the pain to pass. Minutes move like molasses and turn into hours; hours can turn into days. Before we know it, we can't remember what "normal life" is like.
Be gentle - be compassionate
When we are in the trenches and fighting off a migraine attack, we can add to the challenge by being hard on ourselves for missing out on our responsibilities. During this period of time, it can help to treat ourselves like we would treat a loved one in pain. Let yourself off the hook. Do what your body needs to be comfortable and get through this time.
Ask for help
Asking for help can be hard when we are at our lowest. When the pain is keeping us from seeing straight, it is easy to lose sight of the horizon. It can also be difficult to remember that we have support within our reach. Being in constant pain can challenge anyone emotionally. Add to that depression, a common comorbidity, and it's possible to lose our perspective and sense of hope. Additionally, migraine is incredibly isolating and does a number on our ability to foster and nourish our relationships. We are frequently left with a short list of friends and family members waiting in the wings to help. Regardless of the length of that list, it is important to mobilize those folks during our lows.
Waving a white flag
Try sending out a brief text or email to one or two key people - to symbolically wave a white flag. A one sentence message that simply says "I'm struggling and could use you checking in with me once a day for the next few hours/days until this storm lifts". Additionally, spend some time on Migraine.com to read articles and comment on other people's materials as a way of starting a dialogue. Remembering that we're part of a community of millions who are struggling with migraine can be incredibly reassuring when we're feeling isolated and sad.
A good therapist can be a rich resource
If things are particularly tough, consider calling a therapist. I'm of the mind that it's a smart idea to have an established relationship with a therapist if you are living with chronic pain. It's a very challenging reality to navigate and having a good therapist who knows you can be a rich resource in times of need.
Reaching out for help during dark times
Lastly, for those incredibly dark moments, it's important to remember that there's a suicide hotline available 24/hours a day by phone 1-800-273-8255 and now available by online chat as well. It is possible to lose perspective as to the importance of life when we are battling such severe and relentless pain, so having that number to call is never a bad idea if you find yourself in a corner.
Record well moments
Finally, take the time to record the times that the pain lifts. These can serve as an important reminder and provide perspective in times of suffering. Take a video of yourself taking a walk and describing feeling well, and watch it if you feel deeply pained and sad about the situation. Or write down a description of one of the days when the intensity of a migraine finally breaks and you feel better. We all have felt that incredible moment when everything feels all the more incredible because we simply can see straight for the first time in days.
Do you have thoughts about how to turn the corner when you're feeling down? Please share them here so we can learn from each other.
Can you tell when a migraine attack is coming?