Life with migraine can feel like traveling alone to an unfamiliar country on the other side of the world. The journey can be long, lonely and stressful. People with migraines must maneuver through life with the heavy baggage of a complex neurological condition and its accompanying symptoms. Given the isolating dynamics of migraine, it’s easy to feel alone in facing these struggles. In reality, one billion people in the world have migraine; and 4 million people in America have chronic migraine.
Parlez vous anglais
Trying to help others understand our lives can feel akin to being in a foreign country, speaking a different language from those around us. Many can’t understand why things seem so challenging because the stigma that minimizes migraine as “just a headache” continues to run rampant. Even support from those more enlightened can sometimes ring hollow if they have never had a migraine in their life.
A profound relief occurs when we arrive at our destination, put our bags down, and see a familiar face.
I experienced that relief when I met my fellow Migraine.com contributors at a recent meeting. It felt like putting down several heavy suitcases. I felt lighter just being in their presence. There was no need to prove or say anything, because I knew these people understood my life in a way few others could. My body relaxes and I breathe deeper when I simply think about them. Just knowing they are in the world is a relief to me. I wouldn’t wish the kind of severe pain I experience on a daily basis on anyone, but knowing there are others in the world who have it just as bad, or worse, is like opening the door of the hotel room at the end of the longest travel day, kicking off my shoes and plopping down on the plushest, most comfy bed.
Turning us into turtles
While most chronic migraineurs do know others who have migraines, we rarely know anyone who have it as severely as we do. With 1 in 4 U.S households having a person with migraine, you would think we would all know and be well connected with one another. However, by their very nature, migraines are isolating. The condition causes us to retreat from the world. We have to block out light, sound, smells, and ultimately other people as we do our best to move through the severe pain.
Virtual support group
My migraine specialist recently mentioned that one of the primary requests he hears from his patients is for a support group. Migraineurs are thirsty to connect and relate to others in the same boat. The challenge in bringing such a wish to fruition, of course, is that most people with migraine are frequently incapable of keeping appointments. Perhaps the best way to proceed would be through an online/visual/facetime type of approach wherein participants could sign in from home regardless of their well-being at that particular moment.
Thankful for Migraine.com
I keep being reminded of, and grateful for, the depth and beauty of Migraine.com. There remains a vast amount of work to be done in increasing public awareness and educating the world about the complex neurological condition that is migraine. Migraine.com contributes to this need through its articles and the support and information it provides. I’ve seen many people forward articles to their friends and family in an effort to help enlighten their support system as to what they are up against in dealing with migraine. Additionally, both the website and presence on Facebook and other social media platforms provide places for community members to connect and relate through the sharing of stories and comments.
For me, as a contributor to the site and a member of the community, I find enormous solace in the comments of other members. I am moved by the life stories of others; I see our numerous connections and remember that I’m not alone. Indeed, I am reminded that we are all part an enormous and vibrant community of people who are providing support to each other in moments of sorrow, celebrating one another’s accomplishments, demanding solutions, and seeking joy while trying to make sense of life in the midst of pain.
While on this journey of life with migraine, what a relief and gift to connect, be inspired by, and relate to others along the way. It’s nice to know there are others who can help to share the load when my bags get too heavy, and hope I can lighten the load of others when they hit a rough patch. We are in this together and we are not alone.