Mouths Open, Mouths Close: Part II

This is part II to my story, Mouths Open, Mouths Close, where I share potential responses to uncomfortable comments about my migraine.

How to respond to comments about my migraine

Statement 10: "You should think positive."

A. My reply: "True." (Better to keep it short and sweet and always agree in front of you-know-who — someone who has zero experience in my kind of scenario.)
B. Polite reply: "Yes, absolutely correct." (Some formality adds a touch of politeness unlike anything while marking a distinct distance between people.)
C. Rude reply: "I am glad that I found some life-saving advice. Wow! Why didn’t I think of it before? Positive is such a positive word. I mean how dumb can I be? I never get it. I just need to think positive as if I think negative. Now, do I think negative when I am putting my clothes out to dry in the sun? Am I negative when I keep everything in my life organized to an extent (considered to be some kind of mania by my well-wishers)? Am I negative when I am utilising Shivambu throughout the day just in order to be active all day long? Am I negative when I avoid processed food as much as possible? Am I negative when I work on multiple projects where I work on novels, essays and collections of poems? Am I negative when I wish to help other people by sharing my experiences with naturopathy? Now, am I being negative if I let someone know about some of my symptoms, especially since he wants to know the reason for something I do or don’t do? I don’t know, Monsieur Sensible, how to think positive for I don’t distinguish everything into positive or negative, good or bad. I am a writer. Everything is a data point for me. Everything matters to me. Otherwise, how will I write? I don’t make up things. I write from either my experiences or someone else’s. Positive, negative, good or bad…these are subjective elements that people like to discuss. Sometimes, I feel these limit life experiences."

Dear Reader, which option will you go for? A, B, or C?

Statement 11: "Get your stars checked."

A. My reply: "Stars? I don’t understand such things."
B. Polite reply: "Of course, I will get a pandit and discuss my stars to see if it’s in alignment and not misplaced."
C. Rude reply: "As far as I know, I don’t have a star in my body. Can you see one? And are you talking about a celestial body like the sun? Then, it makes zero sense. By the way, did you get yours checked? What does it say? Does it matter? What are you doing about the sayings? Nothing! How come? If it’s so important, you should deal with the sayings written in the stars. Otherwise, you know it will break you apart from inside out and outside in. In and out, out and in. Oh, I forgot to apologise for not being star-struck."

Dear Reader, which option will you go for? A, B, or C?

Statement 12: "It’s all in your head."

A. My reply: "Okay."
B. Polite reply: "Okay, I will get my head checked. Then, I will be fine."
C. Rude reply: "Okay, it’s all in my head. So, you mean to say it’s a fabrication of my imagination? Like the alien in the movie ET was imagined by someone first. That kind of imagination. I wonder how I ended up imagining more than two dozen symptoms. As I understand that neuro thing I have from the symptoms only. If the symptoms were not there, I wouldn’t be writing such a thing and I wouldn’t have written the book ‘Anything But This: Dealing with Migraine Sans Medicine.’ You, Monsieur Sensible, say that my symptoms are not real. I am fantasising about them and they are being manifested in my body because of my fantasy world. Okay. This is some speculation. It sounds original. Goodness me!"

Dear Reader, which option will you go for? A, B, or C?

Statement 13: "If only you were to have bread daily..."

A. My reply: No reply. (Keeping mum is the way forward as there is no paucity of arguments by people who love to eat without listening to their bodies.)
B. Polite reply: "Oh yes, I will have it daily... sure, twice a day just like you say."
C. Rude reply: "...and become a bag full of lifestyle diseases like you. If you need to understand what I mean here then please read the book ‘Grains' by Dr. Nand Kishore Sharma. You will have a fair understanding of what grains and anything processed does to our bodies. I rather not explain it here. It will take up a lot of space. In short, anything cooked by man is not okay for us. In order to be healthy, we need some fruits, salad, and nuts. That’s it. Nothing else. Anything else is an indulgence which I also do to an extent each day but try to avoid as much as possible. Sometimes, I succeed. Sometimes, I don’t."

Dear Reader, which option will you go for? A, B, or C?

Statement 14: "Don’t take stress/tension."

A. My reply: "Okay."
B. Polite reply: "Of course, I won’t."
C. Rude reply: "Oh, I can’t help it. It’s my hobby. Tension, stress — they sound like such great buddies to have in life. Now, what you are pointing out as tension or stress is my justifying a behaviour by citing some symptoms or just calling it plain and simple migraines. And you see it as me taking stress. For the life of me, I could never understand how you speculate such things. I organize everything to make my life easier and it also helps me with brain fog as I am conscious mind-wise impaired most of the time. But Monsieur Sensible sees it as me taking stress in life. Earlier (till the year 2019 before the COVID times) when I used to wash my hands often, I was ridiculed all the time by Monsieur Sensible. Nowadays, who’s being paranoid and ending up believing that it will help fight viruses?"

Dear Reader, which option will you go for? A, B, or C?

Statement 15: "Don’t get angry."

A. My reply: Nothing leaves my mouth as I try not to sound you-know-what.
B. Polite reply: "Oh, I am so sorry. I won’t."
C. Rude reply: "Yeah, keep calling me a liar, argue with a sick person, ask me not to avoid triggers, waste my time, make me do unimportant tasks for you (mostly on a laptop or mobile screen or which involves travelling), get philosophical with me to teach me a set of lessons which a good-for-nothing guy like me needs to learn ASAP, and mock me (in effect, mock my chronic illness.) And still, expect me not to get angry and annoyed. If I do the same to you, even when you don’t have the symptoms I do, will you be okay with it? I know you won’t. I know this because I have tried and tested this on the likes of you. By the way, it’s more of a symptom called irritation rather than anger. Everything in the environment has turned out to be a trigger for me. Anything above or below a limit affects me such that I can’t help but show some irritation at the behaviour of others. I don’t have a problem with people. My mind and body is affected by their actions and the result seems like a case of ‘anger’ to some people."

Dear Reader, which option will you go for? A, B, or C?

Statement 16: "Someone drove a car from one city to another. Why can’t you?"

A. My reply: "It’s risky for me to drive on highways and also gives me a flare-up."
B. Polite reply: "I have never tried. Next time, I will and let you know my experience."
C. Rude reply: "Drinking and driving is illegal. I am doing a favour to everyone near me inside the vehicle and outside. Drinking makes driving risky and prone to accidents. My two dozen symptoms make my driving riskier and make accidents happen all the time. So, what do you suggest? That I should get into accidents and not even stop if I kill someone? As if driving for a thousand kilometres is a great achievement and I am a loser otherwise."

Dear Reader, which option will you go for? A, B, or C?

Statement 17: "You are young. You should be able to do this and that and that as well."

A. My reply: A brief nod.
B. Polite reply: "Of course, I will go ahead and do this and that and that as well."
C. Rude reply: "Correct but only if I sever my nervous system from my body. This will help me avoid the symptoms. But then, how will my body work?"

Dear Reader, which option will you go for? A, B, or C?

Statement 18: "Wish I had your lifestyle — no responsibilities, no tension, just do whatever I feel like."

A. My reply: Stay silent.
B. Polite reply: "I pray you do. Wish you the best of luck."
C. Rude reply: "I bet you will enjoy two dozen symptoms which will make sure you can’t do what you want when you want."

Dear Reader, which option will you go for? A, B, or C?

Statement 19: "People have it worse than you: death, limb loss, and lifestyle diseases which are terminal.

A. My reply: "So, what? Am I supposed to be okay with what I have?"
B. Polite reply: "Of course, I feel so grateful."
C. Rude reply: "It’s easy for you to compare apples with shoes. Next, you will compare a horse with a honeybee and blame the bee for not sharing honey with the horse and later blame the horse for not letting a honeybee ride on its back. Thinking about people having it worse doesn’t help me but thinking about people having way more insecurities than I have definitely helps."

Dear Reader, which option will you go for? A, B, or C?

Navigating difficult comments about my migraine

Dear Reader, I must have sounded downright insensitive and a horrible person for the sarcastic replies that I wrote. I am sure that you will get it only if you wear my shoes for as long as I have. At least for three decades and then I would love to hear what you have to say. Otherwise, it won’t make sense if you speak from inexperience. In this game of options that you played, I am not expecting you to be able to wear my shoes and understand my experiences exactly the way I experienced them. I am expecting you to understand to some degree what it’s like to interact with people around me and the reason why I don’t feel like wasting my time and energy in interacting with people apart from the important things which can’t be helped. Days pass by and I feel the need for more time on my hands. But then, what good will more time do for me if my capability doesn’t improve?

Your score and what it means:

If you have mostly As, then your migraines are real and it affects your ability to answer properly.

If you have mostly Bs, then you have been brainwashed all your life to be polite to each and everyone around you. Polite to such an extent that you start sounding sarcastic.

If you have mostly Cs, then you are anti-social, something which I have lately become. It happened slowly as I crossed the thirties landmark. Shivambu’s utilisation helped me understand a lot of things in life which made me realize I don’t want to compromise with people and gift myself a flare-up just for their sake. This reminds me of the words of Toni Bernhard who mentions in her book “How To Be Sick” something like — no one has the right to increase your suffering.

I will end here by reminding you not to take this seriously but as a joke. Forget about the scoring system and just enjoy. After all, it’s a joke.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The 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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