I am not my illness

My name is Alex and I am a college student. I am studying political science and history. I love college football and basketball. I love movies and going out with friends. I have Chronic Migraines and I am not my illness.

I got my frist migraine when I was 14. I remember it perfectly. It was at church the sunday after I finished 8th grade. I had just got my report card and was going to thank god for my straight a's. Instead I got very dizzy and felt like I was going to collapse. The same thing happened the next day and the day after that. A week later I still had the spells and my mother took me to my doctor. She told me I was just growing too quickly. After a few months I was sent ot specialists. I saw every doctor I could possibly have seen. After two very long years of being undaignosed I finally was diagnosed with silent migraines, the rarests form of aura migraines. I was promptly put on a miracle drug, amitryptaline and sent back to school. After two and a half years of only migraines during what I call the perfect migraine storm (marching band, fondue parties, etc) the migraines returned with a vengence. I was now a freshman in college.

My mother had decided if I did not get better by my junior year of high school I was not going to college. Since the drug worked I was allowed to go to school which was importatnt to me since I loved learning. I wanted nothing more than to go to college, it was just what I had always planned on doing. I finally entered my school which I love dearly and was heartbroken when I relapsed.

I spent a year and half dealing with slightly more severe migraines. Enough for me to have to actually explain to my teachers what was going on and why I might miss class. By the fall of my junior year I was gettng much worse. I had a migraine every day for a month nad not little ones. I was finally given botox injections which were a miracle. I was finally able to be myself. Too bad my insurance company decided that the drug was not medically necessary and I am migraine ridden again.

After seven years with migraines I have finally come to the conclusion that I am not my migraine. I can talk about the disorder. I no longer feel guilty for missing class. I no longer apologize to teachers for my illness. I recognize that it is an illness and it is to be dealt with, but it doesn't get me down anymore. I don't let it hold me back. I am going to go to grad school and then go get a job and enjoy the real world. I am not going to let my disability ruin my life or tell me what I can and cannot do. I will do my best to avoid triggers like cheese and nuts but I am going to eat what I want and that includes the delicious cupcakes down the street.

One day I have hope the energy i once had will return. I'll be able to go to everyone one of my classes in a month. I'll be able to go running or go to a party or even to the movies. I'll manage to make it through an orchesta concert or mass. I'll live my life without a day of pain. I'll be able to live a life where no one knows of my illness not because I don't talk about it but because it doesn't impact anything. That's my dream and I know it is the dream of every chronic migraine patient out there.

I do not wish anyone to have this disease but I will wait for the day when people finally understand it is not a simple headache it is more like a seizure or epilepsy. It's a neuological disorder that can be cured. The amount of funding that the NIH spent on migraine research in 2007 is equal to only $0.36 per person with migraine. Diabetes received $49.38 per person with diabetes. Asthma received $12.25 per person with asthma. So let's fix that and help all migraine sufferes.

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