Grief and Migraine

As I sit here writing this, I am not sure what to write about. I have so many things I want to say about chronic migraine, but I don’t know which one to choose. I’m don’t want to rehash something that has already been posted here, but I want to make it relevant to the experience of myself and others.

I started having episodic migraines when I was about 13. By the age of 19, I was on an amount of medication that no 19-year-old has any right to be. And then, I got married. Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband, but the stress of marriage and birth control catapulted my episodic migraines into chronic migraines. Not to mention, I started graduate school, which just further increased my stress levels. At one point, I was having something like 60 migraines a month.

Finding validity in grief

I know many of you reading this can relate to my experience. One of the biggest things I found important to dealing with chronic migraine is the grief. Most of us have heard about the “5 stages of grief:” denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I am not here to discuss the validity of the “5 stages of grief;” I have just found them to be a helpful frame, in which to view my migraines.

I think there is a certain amount of grief inherent in migraine. Whether it is when we develop a migraine, we move from episodic to chronic migraine, our migraines change in any way, or we have always had migraine; I believe we all experience some amount of grief associated with migraines. I, however, understand that every migraine experience is different, and you might not experience grief with your migraines. I just know that I have.

The biggest source of grief from my migraines is missed activities and opportunities. I love working; I love going out with my husband; but, more often than not, I have found myself unable to do the things I love because my head hurts so much, I can barely stand. I have been angry, sad, anxious, frustrated, guilty, depressed, and every emotion in between. I have even begged for the migraine to ease up for just one day, so I could do something I enjoy.

Grief is generally not enjoyable, but I have found a new perspective in my migraine by accepting my grief. I do not let my grief define or even control my actions, but I accept that migraine is hard. It is okay to feel all these emotions. These emotions do not make me somehow less; they merely mean I am human. I am a human struggling with chronic migraine, and that is okay.

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