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I Am Valuable and You Are Too

I have been sitting here staring at this post for a long time. Should I delete it? Should I share it? And then I decided, I have nothing to lose. So here goes.

Everyone has a story. Most people keep their story private. They fear sharing will change the way we look at them, chase us away, make us judge them, leave them vulnerable.

I’ve been pretty open about my chronic migraine disease. This neurological disease has 100% changed my life and the lives of my loved ones. And, yes, it changed the way people look at me, chased some people away, caused others to judge me and has left me extremely vulnerable. There is, however, a handful of people who I’ve helped along this journey, and that makes it worth it. That is why I’m sharing this with you today. I want to help someone else. I want the last 15 years of my life with migraines to matter.

When you look at me, I don’t want you to see my disease. I want you to see my strength despite the pain. I don’t want you to see me as weak. I don’t want you to see me as lazy. I don’t want you to see me as antisocial. I want you to remember the Keena you knew before. I’m still in here.

I have a medical story and it doesn’t begin or end with migraine disease. I also battle psoriatic arthritis, spinal stenosis, disc degeneration, fibromyalgia, and depression. Three of my doctors suspect Lupus that has not fully presented itself yet.

I fight a battle every day. And I don’t want your pity. I want your prayers and your understanding.

Oh the mommy guilt I feel. I’m not a bad mom. If I’m not at my daughter’s dance competition this weekend or I’m not able to drive my child to piano, don’t judge me, because you couldn’t possibly think less of me than I do of myself in those moments. If you love my children, maybe you could include them in things you do with your kids, so they don’t feel so left out.

Then there is the misery of my self-image. Many of you remember the skinny Keena and probably wonder what happened. Oh how I miss her. I’m not overweight because I’m sitting around eating bonbons. I take medications that cause weight gain and won’t let my body let go of the weight no matter what I do. I’m trying very hard to accept myself just like I am while making the healthiest choices possible.

When you see me and I look “fine” or act “fine,” be aware that those of us with chronic pain learn to hide it well. What you won’t see are the days, maybe weeks, it takes me to recover from that one afternoon outing. No, it’s not fair, but it’s reality.

I’m young. I’m 44. I should not have these health problems and there should be a cure or help. And YES, it makes me angry. Very angry. I fight hard. I try hard. Sometimes, I give up. But, I eventually pick myself back up and dust myself off and keep pushing forward.

Last night, I had this moment of clarity. I realized that I’m valuable. Yep, all of this pain had made me feel like I was a shell of a person with absolutely no worth. That’s the hardest part. When you go from a working professional in a thriving career, and an always on-the-go wife and mom, to a lump in the recliner, it’s not a vacation, it’s PRISON.

If you are fighting chronic illness, please don’t let it take your self-worth. If you have a loved one with chronic illness, please build them up and show them they are still valuable to you. Half the battle is knowing you have something to fight for.

I hope my story will help someone in some way. May God richly bless you.

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.


  • AnjAmat
    5 years ago

    As I read this I think to myself, it could very well be me writing it. I share so many aspects of your struggle, once an electrical engineer, now on disability, the guilt over not being the mom & wife I want to be. One thing I don’t quite have is your notion of self worth. I’ve been chronic since 2001 & I’m only 33 now so my college career & adult life have been lost to migraines. I do my best to find things to live for, I have two beautiful sons 🙂 <3 but it's been a long hard road. And my husband will remind me of how much I've cost us, how little I contribute & often say very hateful things. It's hard enough to keep my head up, literally ha, without his rude comments & lack of support. But thanks for sharing, helps to know I'm not alone!

  • Nancy Harris Bonk moderator
    5 years ago

    Thank you for sharing with us, Keena. Your story hits home for me too!


  • Keena Grissom author
    5 years ago

    Thank you, Nancy!

  • Britiny colvin-kazee
    5 years ago

    Thank you Keena for writing your story. It was actually something that I needed to see. I was diagnosed with chronic migraine two years ago, but I got bronchitis earlier this year and we’re having a really wet spring where I live so I’ve spent about 90% of the last month and a half in the house too sick to function. And quite frankly I’ve really been kicking myself for it. I’ve had such a hard time shaking the guilt of missing work, especially when i’ve already lost two jobs because of being sick, and not being able to play with my daughter like I want to, and I’ve been so afraid that I’m becoming dead weight to my boyfriend because I’m too sick to work that I’ve fallen into this rut. I read this and it made me cry because I can relate to everything that you said, and you have so much more going on than I do and you’re still in there swinging. It was a really inspiring thing for me to read, at the perfect time. Thank you again.

  • Keena Grissom author
    5 years ago

    Oh Britiny, you hang in there, girl! You are going to feel better. Your daughter loves you no matter what. And if your boyfriend loves you, he will hang in there and help you through it. You keep your head up and never forget that no matter what your health does to you, you still have everything to offer. It does not define you! Adding you to my prayers. ~Keena

  • Katie M. Golden moderator
    5 years ago

    As a moderator on this site, I’ve read a ton of stories. I can sympathize and commiserate with everyone. Each story is different, but in the end we all understand each other.

    For some reason, your story really struck me. I had to fight back the tears. You were honest and open. And it was beautiful to see you accept how valuable you are. Everyone needs to be reminded of that. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Keena Grissom author
    5 years ago

    Hi Katie. Thank you so much. After I read your comment, I had to fight the tears. Part of what has made this journey so hard is that the migraines took away my career as a writer and editor. Not having the concentration, the word recall, and the list goes on, that I needed to continue in my chosen field was devastating. If I can still write something, anything, that makes sense (ha!), moves people in any way and makes a difference, I’m so incredibly happy to do so and feel a bit like my old self for a minute. Blessings! ~Keena

  • Vicky Wemyss
    5 years ago

    Thank you for sharing your story. I am 42 years old, can barely work any more due to the severity of my migraines and feel that I constantly let down my two daughters ages 11 and 15 as well as my husband. In fact, every aspect of my life has been affected by this debilitating illness. I try not to think of the unfairness of this too much but on bad days I do find it very hard to remain optimistic. Thank you for giving me a pick me up by sharing . It is comforting to know that I am not alone in all of this.

  • Keena Grissom author
    5 years ago

    You are not alone, Vicky. Perhaps you should share this with some of the people in your life and let them see that others fight the same battles you do and how very real it is. Praying you find relief and better days.

  • deborahvan-der-harst
    5 years ago

    Keena, thank you for posting your story and having the courage to share feelings that many of us with chronic migraines and/or chronic pain have had. I’m happy for you that you realized that you are valuable. Your story has helped me know that I am not alone in dealing with the feelings of low self-worth due to guilt and inactivity.

    Today is my fourth migraine day. I can only take Maxalt for two days. After that my pain treatment options become limited. I have major depressive disorder, and am finally beginning to feel relief from the symptoms. However, when my migraines last a week and there is no respite from the pain, I get depressed and am feeling depressed now. Depression by definition steels self-worth, and my chronic migraines add to those feelings of low self-esteem. It doesn’t help when even my loved ones enforce those feelings by hinting that I don’t do enough to prevent my migraines, or that my migraines couldn’t be that painful so much of the time. Like you, I feel I am too young to have such a debilitating illness. The list of meds I take is too long for anyone, but especially for a person my age.

    Like you I was fit and athletic before I developed chronic migraines 4 years ago. I gained 25 lbs and didn’t lose it until recently when I developed pancreatitis. It wasn’t the best way to lose weight. Now I am thin again, but have the body fat of an obese person because I rarely workout these days. Exercise almost always triggers a migraine. My migraines last 5 days on average. I have qualified for botox treatment for my migraines, and am hoping it works for me. I would like to exercise because I know it can help prevent migraines, but it doesn’t work for me.

    I also had a head full of long thick healthy hair until Topamax caused major hair loss. I stopped taking it with my doctor’s approval when I discovered that hair loss is a rare side effect of topamax. I felt unattractive and mourned the loss of my once healthy hair. It is slowly growing back and the healthy sheen it once had is also slowly returning. When my migraines became chronic I never expected to feel fat, flabby and unattractive as a direct result of chronic migraines. I thought I had only the pain to deal with which was difficult enough.

    I recently developed low blood sodium, hyponatremia, which can cause brain swelling. SSRIs and SSNRIs can cause hyponatremia which I have to take to control my depression. Now I don’t know whether I’m experiencing a migraine, or pain from low blood sodium symptoms. There are more lab tests for me because of this. I will be calling my doctor today when the office opens. I also have to get an x-ray because I have a small hard lump on the right side of my head.

    Despite everything, I also know that I am valuable. I know that even with the struggles that my husband shares with me, he would miss me if I weren’t in his life. There is also my daughter and others who love me and support me as well. For that reason, I know I add value and am valuable. I just wish this migraine would go away.

  • Keena Grissom author
    5 years ago

    Thank you for sharing your story with me! Knowing we are not alone is so very helpful. I pray you will have better days.

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