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What if they were gone forever?

What If They Were Gone Forever?


I often ponder what life would be like without frequent pain and disability after having it in my life for so long. (What person with a chronic disease doesn’t ponder this question sometimes?)

Mostly I answer this hypothetical question with wild migraine-free fantasies. I imagine eating whatever I want, making plans and keeping them even if I’m tired, telling my friends and family the news, and crying great rivers of happiness. Imagine the trips I’d plan! The treats I’d eat! The money I could make with so much more productivity!?

With occasional 3-5 day stretches without pain, I sometimes get glimpses into what that life would be like. It’s wonderful. Really, really wonderful. This is usually when I start dreaming of life without migraine. But then I have another attack, and this kind of thinking proves rather disappointing.

Before (and after?)

I think I was generally a happier person before migraine feasted on my happy brain chemicals several times a week. But not drastically so. I wasn’t depressed for long stretches, but I still had grief and pain and ups and downs and emotional baggage like everyone else. I sometimes think, if I knew then what I know now, I would have been happier.

Until I gain access to a time machine, I can’t confirm the truth of that hypothesis. I would like to think if migraine hit the highway for good I would cherish every late night, every unplanned nap, every live concert, and every artificially flavored Cheeto with reckless abandon. And maybe I would, because if migraine has taught me anything, it’s to relish in the little triumphs.

The little things

Sometimes I like to add simple things to my daily to-do list just so I can cross them off and feel accomplished. Got out of bed? Good job! Brushed your teeth today? A+! Ate a vegetable? You rock!!

Even when the migraine frequency/severity doesn’t change on paper, I make sure to celebrate improvements in my treatment plan and quality of life nonetheless. Lowering the dosage of my daily anti-depressant by a mere .5 milligrams without being awash in chest pain and panic attacks feels like a major win. Running (RUNNING!) 5k in under half an hour after years of avoiding aerobic exercise like the devil feels epic. Finding a new career that kicks my butt sometimes, but that is both fulfilling and flexible enough to accommodate my health is not only celebration-worthy, it’s lucky as all get out.

Focusing on the good

Regardless of whether or not I am ever freed from the shackles of migraine, it’s pretty clear to me that gratitude is the ticket for a better life. I’m not naïve enough to think that this is also the ticket to endless happiness. You will not see me subscribing to any positive thinking cults. There will always be dark times with difficult, unpleasant emotions, whether migraine is in the picture or not. I just hope that more and more, I can allow gratitude to co-exist with those emotions.

Oh hey… practicing gratitude… Yeah, I didn’t come up with that. It’s a pillar of religious practice everywhere, and science says it’s good for us.

I’ll probably never stop dreaming a migraine-free future, but at least cherishing these small wins makes the migraine-filled present more bearable.

Despite the upheaval, chaos, disappointment, pain, and emotional grief of migraine, what are you grateful for?

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


  • glassmind
    12 months ago

    Most evenings, I jot down three gratitudes.

    Three persist in repetition:




    Lovely article. Thank you for sharing.

  • MelJ
    2 years ago

    I can’t even imagine =D It’s funny when you get a regular headache and get excited that it’s just a headache. I am so lucky that body alignment, yoga, stretches, Cefaly and a boat load of vitamins help. I think the best is proper body alignment is the best for me. It is so very hard to maintain perfect posture all the time but, if that is what it takes, so be it. I also can’t eat many things I would like but, I’m OK with that as well. Whatever it takes to feel ok. It would be so nice to be able to hop in an uber or go to the grocery store when the cinnamon is out, be in the same room with a “smell” that is chemical and not have your head swell and feel like it’s going to explode would me amazing!!!! I’m getting ready to move to FL, near the beach. I have been “good” there even during the most stressful times. Wish me luck!! Live near Washington DC now =(

  • Holly H.
    2 years ago

    I just told someone who asked me that question the other day that I dream of a fun day of going to Disney World. Yes, I am a senior citizen, but that’s on the outside. I live just 45 minutes away, but with the chronic/constant migraine disorder, am unable to tolerate the things that make Disney, well, Disney.
    My home base offers low-key bingo a couple of evenings a week. And a lady observed yesterday that I am finally able to tolerate the entire two hours (trying because I needed outside my apartment) after almost a year of having to leave when the pain got too much… and that it made her feel good to be able to see that I had come to a place of being able to do that. Glad I kept trying, for encouraging myself and another elderly lady.

    JaylaWeaver, you’re right, there is comfort in knowing we are not alone, because our chronic disorder is in itself so isolating. My heartfelt sympathies go to the young who are bound to this chronic migraine life. I believe you totally and am so for you… I’ve been at this for a very long time myself, and I really do understand.

  • JaylaWeaver
    2 years ago

    Anna omg, I thought I was the only one that thought like that. It’s very comforting to hear it coming from someone else. I’ve been suffering with migraines for a decade now (back in first grade) and now I’m in high school and it only seems to get worse. I try to imagine what life would be like without the pain migraines bring (psychological, physical, and even emotional sometimes). I get them almost everyday. A good week for me is when I have a migraine attack only 4-5 days out of the week. This week has been rough though. I’ve been getting them consecutively. And it brings along my old friend depression as always. Not to mention nausea. I have one at this very moment! But your article made me feel like I wasn’t alone in this battle against migraines. Thank you for that.

    -Just a suffering teenage girl

  • Ruth
    2 years ago

    I don’t know if I would feel worse if I didn’t feel so grateful for all I have, or the same. I am lucky in many ways and accomplished some important things that made me happy before I ever had migraines. But this disease has taken 20 years so far out of the prime of my life. I have to try not to get too excited when I don’t have one for a day or two because too many times I’ve started down that fantasy road thinking about everything I would do. Now I’m old and there’s not much point in thinking about picking up where I left off. I’m just wondering if I’ll die the next time I have to take a triptan since I’ve been having chest pains for about a year now, which would be horrible for my husband who cherishes me and depends on me just being here.

    I’m not sure I appreciate this website at all anymore. It’s writers are borderline delusional and two of the commenters so far sound like scammers. That’s just another hurt I don’t need!

  • aks868
    2 years ago

    I keep reminding myself that they are never going to be gone forever, but there is always the wish… A few weeks ago, I had a great run of about three to four weeks of very mild migraines and a fair amount of productivity. I turned to my husband, excitedly saying how happy I was and how much I was looking forward to doing things with him. Two days later the migraine hit and I still can’t shake it–it’s been three weeks. Sometimes I start to feel like the minute I recognize that I am doing better the other shoe drops. I am always grateful for what I have and what i manage to do, but there is still a small part of me )and I admit on my bad days a large part) that wishes I could do all that I had been doing before this disease reared its nasty head (pun intended)!

  • arden
    2 years ago

    Yes, gratitude is GOOD for us. It puts light in our life and at the time of migraine darkness we really need it. It can just be a disposition, not for anything in particular, but for everything, especially our lives. We can not see the whole picture now, but migraines may be our best friend in the long run, refining, stretching and challenging us in ways that will make us strong and brave for the times to come.But I’m like the next guy, will give anything a try if there is hope for relief!

  • pam bitterman
    2 years ago

    I am right there, although there are some silver linings. In eliminating triggers such as grains and alcohol and sugar, etc., I know I am in the long run healthier. However, if there were a “cure”, an actual preventative with minimal side effects, I would jump on it! Read recently about such an anti-inflammatory auto immune treatment of injections. Am awaiting more research. Am ever hopeful and ever (try to be) vigilante in the meantime.

  • LConlon
    2 years ago

    I also think about what it would be like to make plans, go to the gym regularly, stay up late or join a group. I went 2 solid months this year without migraine and inflammation. My head felt like it was healing and yes it was amazing. For a short period I thought I had this disease beat after 30 years. I was in NUCCA treatments and I had relief for a short time but slowly the pain came back and my weekly bouts with joint pain, migraine and inflammation came back. It was wonderful while it lasted and for a while I was a normal person contemplating what I could do with all my new free time! I am grateful for those 2 solid months of pain-free days and I remain hopeful that I can experience it again and again in the future.

  • Luna
    2 years ago

    I am grateful for the better times and the fact that I survive the not so better times. All the losses I’ve adjusted to in 70+ years has made me a realist. This is what it is. Make the most of it. Use my coping skills/tools to the best effect. We each have different ways to make it through each day.

    A friend/co-worker from years ago used to say back then, “Is this as good as it gets?!” We still joke about that. He has copd.

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