Breakdown

I’ve written once before about my experiences. Other than that, I have mostly lurked and occassionally commented on other stories. I’m not the type to share a lot.

At the beginning of September, I transferred to a new location for my job because it’s closer to home. It’s better on gas, plus less wear and tear on my car. Most importantly, however, if I need my husband to come get me from work because of a really bad migraine, it’s a lot closer and won’t take him as long to get to me. At the time, I was having a good period when it came to my migraines, but, as always, I made sure to warn my boss that I do suffer from chronic migraines and informed them that I have been approved for intermittent FMLA for them.

Despite warning them, it has been nothing but stress with most of the leadership team at the new location after my good period ended. Tomorrow, I have to call HR to make sure they’ve even reported my FMLA so I don’t lose my benefits because they hadn’t the first two months I was at this store.


About a week and a half ago, I just couldn’t handle it, anymore. It was the fourth day of a new migraine. I’d already called out using FMLA for the three previous days. The thought of having to do it again, once again hearing the judgment, disbelief, and censor in the voice of whichever shift lead I spoke to was just too much for me and I basically had a breakdown. It all just came crashing down on me; the stress of dealing with my employers when it comes to my migraines, the loss of income from missing work that is preventing me from being able to afford the things I want or do the things I want to do, the resurgence of migraine attacks when I had been lucky enough to go for almost 4 mouths with minimal attacks and truly believed that I finally had a good handle on them, having to withdraw from school due to missed time because of the attacks….. All of it just hit me.

I spent about an hour in a practically catatonic state before some coaxing from my husband pulled me out of it enough that I could tell him what was wrong. I’m not sure how long I spent rambling about my migraines and all they’ve cost me. I didn’t recognize myself because I have never been the type to break down.

After this experience, I’ve decided it may be time to talk to my doctor about the possibility of going on disability, at least temporarily. My primary care physician is referring me to a neurologist because we’ve gotten to the point where he can’t help me manage them anymore.

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

Comments

View Comments (7)
  • Karen Rudd
    2 years ago

    Dear SilverPhoenix13,

    Most people, including your supervisors and coworkers are lucky enough to not have experienced severe, long term pain and while they pretend to be understanding, they are secretly judgmental. I have warned every employer that I suffer from chronic intractable migraine. I always make my work up on my own time, but I invariably run into that ‘you’re not coming in AGAIN?’
    tone, even if I am able to work from home. Take comfort in the fact that you are not alone and there are millions of us with chronic pain who DO understand.

  • SilverPhoenix13 author
    2 years ago

    Thank you. It IS a great comfort to know that I’m not alone. Finding this community has been a great help.

  • Maureen
    2 years ago

    Dear SilverPhoenix13, I recently have had a bad streak after a good one, and it has been very disheartening. I was just asking rhetorically at my headache specialist’s office, “Have I lost my perspective? Do I forget what the pain feels like? Do I think it hurts more than it does?” Today, after starting a steroid taper and feeling somewhat better, I realize that having chronic pain makes me lose my perspective and forget what pain feels like.
    Feeling pain so frequently makes me forget how regular people respond to pain. They cry. They wince. They whimper and moan and ask for help and medicine. And they stay home from work and go to the doctor. They don’t pretend to be ok, and vomit in the bathroom at work, and sleep under their desks, and have conference calls in the dark and then feel bad about letting people down.
    That is losing perspective. And forgetting what pain feels like.
    SilverPhoenix13, find a good neurologist who specializes in migraine care. Take the time to take care of yourself. And if you can’t make one more call to the office, maybe your husband could make it for you. If my husband were down with the flu or in the hospital or (fill in the blank with any other sickness here), I’d call his boss. I’d say, “He is really ill and unable to phone himself. He will not be in. He’d be there if he could. It is just not possible. Thank you.”
    I hope you feel well very soon!

  • SilverPhoenix13 author
    2 years ago

    Sadly, I’ve been told that my husband cannot call for me. They will not accept it if he calls. At my old store, it wasn’t a problem, but at the store I just transferred to, they aren’t so accommodating. I work at Walgreens, so it’s a bit more difficult for me to work with a migraine. I do what I can and I used to be able to work some days and only miss work on the very worst day. Since increase in attacks again, it seems they’re worse than they were.

  • Maureen
    2 years ago

    Dear SilverPhoenix13, I recently have had a bad streak after a good one, and it has been very disheartening. I was just asking rhetorically at my headache specialist’s office, “Have I lost my perspective? Do I forget what the pain feels like? Do I think it hurts more than it does?” Today, after starting a steroid taper and feeling somewhat better, I realize that having chronic pain makes me lose my perspective and forget what pain feels like.
    Feeling pain so frequently makes me forget how regular people respond to pain. They cry. They wince. They whimper and moan and ask for help and medicine. And they stay home from work and go to the doctor. They don’t pretend to be ok, and vomit in the bathroom at work, and sleep under their desks, and have conference calls in the dark and then feel bad about letting people down.
    That is losing perspective. And forgetting what pain feels like.
    SilverPhoenix13, find a good neurologist who specializes in migraine care. Take the time to take care of yourself. And if you can’t make one more call to the office, maybe your husband could make it for you. If my husband were down with the flu or in the hospital or (fill in the blank with any other sickness here), I’d call his boss. I’d say, “He is really ill and unable to phone himself. He will not be in. He’d be there if he could. It is just not possible. Thank you.”
    I hope you find relief very soon!

  • SilverPhoenix13 author
    2 years ago

    Island5girl,

    Since posting this, I have reached a level of “I don’t care”. As long as they report my FMLA hours, that’s all I care about. I will continue to do my job to the best of my ability, but I no longer care enough to go above and beyond the way I used to. This manager has proven to be inept at handling me and my condition. Given things she has said to me, it would not surprise me if she is the one stupid enough to fire me for my disability. I’m actually kinda of hoping she does. 1)Because I can’t stand my job anymore. 2)Because if she does, I’m not going to sit quietly and take it.

  • island5girl
    2 years ago

    Dear SilverPhoenix13,
    First-so very sorry your HA symptoms have been so poorly understood that others are adding to your already high levels of stress & pain. So many of us suffer from real, regular, debilitating pain & know the added frustration of trying to justify our physical limitations to those ignorant of chronic conditions.
    That said, HA conditions can & do fluctuate. I am in the midst of a relatively well-managed phase after going thru periods of debilitating pain–often followed by hit & miss treatments, weakness, exhaustion, lack of stamina/energy not to mention profound discouragement.
    No matter what ANY outsider says, you are the best judge of your condition & needs. Continue to be clear & open in your communications-YOU may be the person who educates your acquaintances & community about migraines. Follow through on commitments as diligently as possible. People WILL learn you are a responsible & reliable person, who happens to be managing a chronic, health condition.
    Don’t be afraid to be your own advocate. Say ‘NO’ unapologetically to extra work, travel, social or community commitments when you KNOW it will compromise your health. Be an active & vocal member of your medical team, particularly when treatments are not providing relief. NO ONE SHOULD EVER BE SHAMED INTO ACCEPTING PAIN as ‘normal.’ Do accept sincere offers of help & reciprocate in meaningful, balanced ways. In other words don’t EVER apologize or beat yourself up for accepting appropriate accommodations. You have distinct needs in order to function. You deserve an opportunity to find & implement the conditions that will make you the most successful in all facets of your life.

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