Riding a wave toward the shore, the power of the ocean is underneath me. I see the horizon in the distance. My heartbeat is steady as everything is working perfectly. I have my bearings. I’m using skills I’ve attained through years of practice. I am capable of navigating these waters and feel confident in doing so. I’m happy and feeling good.
From out of nowhere a larger wave crashes over me from behind. I’m pulled under. I get a face full of sand and a shocking mouthful of water. The force of the ocean that I was enjoying just a moment ago now terrifies me. It’s heavy and it holds me under. It rolls me over so many times that I don’t know which way is up. As I hit the bottom, I’m scraped by shells. I can’t breathe. I am engulfed in water.
For a moment, the roiling waters loosen. I come up for air and quickly gasp to fill my lungs. I try to find my bearings. Where is the shore? The horizon? But before the salt water clears from my eyes, I’m pulled under again. I feel as if I’m being attacked. And I’m losing my strength.
The image of riding placid ocean waves before being sucked underneath comes to me repeatedly when I’m in a migraine storm. There is a calm before the storm, after all. A time when we appreciate “having it all.” That beautiful moment when life feels in balance. For chronic migraineurs, these moments can be so fleeting that we are often incredibly grateful for their appearance.
In the blink of an eye, that balance disappears and we are in the fight for our lives. Like a rogue wave, migraines can come out of nowhere and pull us under. They make a mess of things and can be terrifying to experience. The pain and related symptoms like sensitivity to light, sound, and smells, nausea and vomiting can be relentless. We are left feeling as if we are under attack from every angle.
Sometimes there is a break in the pain cycle. And in those moments, we breathe a sigh of relief. Perhaps we even take stock of the damage that was made of our lives during the attack. We begin thinking about all we need to do to catch up, lick our wounds, and restore that elusive sense of balance. Sometimes, just as we take a step forward, we get hit again. We are sucked back under for another fight. With each hit, we are weaker and less able to handle the battle. Our reserves dwindle.
Finding our footing
Hopefully the waves calm again and allow us to catch our breath and find our footing, as we try to make our way to shore. While we are all too aware that as long as we’re in the vicinity of migraine- we are in danger of another wave crashing upon us and causing the cycle to repeat, we have a deeper appreciation for all that we’ve just been through, and all that we’ve left behind. Oddly, it is precisely this demanding process of living with migraine, that helps us fully understand our tremendous strength and resilience.
What analogies have you found that work for you as you manage migraine? Share them below so we can learn from each other.