All tagged chronic migraine
“Have enough courage to trust Love one more time. And always one more time.” — Maya Angelou
(Thank you to Kelly from Little Blue Canoe for sending me this quote)
ICYMI – Around 10 days ago, my engagement ended. As did my relationship. It’s been heart breaking, overwhelming, shocking and sad. But, in the short time I have had to digest this life-altering change, there are a number of lessons I have learned. Some I already knew, but this unfortunate decision made my belief in them stronger. Others, wow — Never did I think they would be a part of my story. Most, I can relate to my battle with chronic illness for I always knew it was making me a more resilient, loving and grateful person.
“Grief is in two parts. The first is loss. The second is the remaking of life.” — Anne Roiphe
It was the “Why me?”, “Please make it stop.”, “I can’t handle this” feelings that had me stuck in cycles of grief every time I had a migraine. A year ago, I would still be going through these ups and downs every. single. migraine. Not now.
Now, I have looked beyond the migraine, journal-ed my way through each stage of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally made it through to the final stage — acceptance.
You know the saying “Keep your friends close but your enemies closer?” Well, my health invaders, migraines, anxiety and depression, and I have become uncomfortably close again this fall. You may have noticed my blogs in November have been less frequent and the posts a little shorter. This is simply because fall is my worst time of year for migraines.
For the past three years, I’ve lived in a constant state of migraine for most of October, November and December. The first year I coined, “Death December” and last year became “Fuck All Fall”. This year’s theme? “Why didn’t I see this coming?”
Adding to the clichés, it was easy for me to think “third times the charm” and this #migraineseason would be smooth sailing.
It all became too much.
Three years ago, almost exactly, I made a radical decision in my life.
It was time to focus on my health.
The decision didn’t come easily. I had a dream job, loved the people I worked with, was using the skills I attended university for and had just started a wonderful new relationship. Yet, my health was robbing me from the joy of experiencing it all.
I was in a constant cycle of migraines and anxiety. I wasn’t being a fair co-worker — my sick leaves put other people under more pressure. Adding on additional responsibility at work made me feel unworthy and useless instead of valued and respected because I was constantly worried I wasn’t doing a good enough job due to my health.
"You think you know ... but you have no idea."
– MTV’s Diary (2001-2014)
Last week’s post on acceptance had me thinking more deeply about what chronic illness looks like from an outsider’s perspective — even to another chronic illness warrior. Case in point: My reaction to a friend saying I cope well. It was a total shocker. I had NO idea I was being seen as a person with a chronic illness who wore rose-coloured glasses.
I know what you’re thinking, “How can someone be thankful they’re sick?”
It’s because when you have a chronic illness, you are forced to learn a lot — about a lot of different things. Some days I feel like I’m in school 24/7. From understanding myself, to navigating the medical system and working through life lessons — it’s all been beneficial to me. The lessons I have learned will apply to life when hopefully one day chronic illness isn’t the first thing I think of when I wake up in the morning. They have made me stronger and more resilient, and will help carry me through any tough situation life might throw at me. So for that, I am thankful I have chronic migraine, depression and anxiety. They have made me who I am today.
I remember my first migraine like a strike of lightning.
Literally. I was 18 years old, and my family and I were camping. I had retreated to our rented motorhome to head to bed, take some Tylenol and pray that my “headache” would subside after a nap. Little did I know, a big storm was rolling in fast. Soon the rain started pelting the windows and I began counting the seconds between the thunder and lightening, while each blast echoed in my skull. I huddled under multiple blankets and pillows to deafen the tin can effect the rain was having on the motorhome and the resulting pain in my head. Tossing and turning, I instinctively knew my “headache” was connected to the storm but it wasn’t until years later I made the connection — This was my first migraine.
What’s in my migraine survival toolkit?
Chronic illness warriors who have been around the block know to have a list/bag/box of things they need and make them feel better when things go south.
This list didn’t come to me overnight. It’s been a long three-year process to find out exactly what I need when the pain hits and it’s time to hunker down (And I’m still tweaking it). But, now that I have my toolkit prepped, it makes living with chronic migraine a bit easier. It also helps my family and friends get through the worst moments — they know where to go and what to do for me.