I am More Than My Diagnosis

My sister had migraines as a child so I knew what was happening with my first onset the end of freshman year in college. In my mid-50s now, the migraine aspect of my life has been a journey: a growing, changing part of me that has been a menace and mentor, an interruption and way to focus, a point of pain and a teacher of compassion.

As a young woman, the attacks were irregular, though debilitating for a few days at a time. I was strong physically and mentally and able to push through a lot, taking to bed for a couple days of the worst of it. After a car accident at 29 headaches grew more frequent and worse; I had more triggers and symptoms and spent years trying various therapies.

Besides migraine, I also had a growing list of other conditions, some from the accident. As time and life went on, as my children grew, I “fought” to be a part of my family while working to improve my health from all standpoints. My migraines were chronic and complicated. Eventually a neurologist determined my initial onset was from a head injury at age 12. He said it was not uncommon that children with head injuries develop symptoms such as migraine as young adults.

By my early-mid 40s I had created a regimen that let me live something of a life with my husband and children. I had to regularly talk to myself about accepting what I couldn’t change and allowing them to accept our life: we were making the best we could. My husband is incredible.
Our kids (now 29,25) each had a migraine on occasion as teens, handling it as though it were just a fact to manage.

This is not to say pain was absent: I have related to all the stories and metaphors written. I named my headaches different names for the level of pain or length of stay. It was a quick way to communicate without going into long descriptions. Long ago I realized when I concentrated on that, I felt worse, and felt worse longer: I gave power to the migraine. I felt more in charge when I focused on my abilities, my family, my regimen, my attitude. It is the same with all my other conditions: thyroid issue, Meniere’s disease, fibromyalgia (which it took years for me to accept), concussion syndrome and others.

I accept that migraine (and more) is a part of me, but I determined it would not define me.

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.

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