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Optimism or Self-Deception?

How is it that I’m always surprised when I get a bad all-day migraine? Every migraine eases up eventually, so my optimism isn’t unfounded. But am I expecting the best or just denying reality?

Is self-deception always bad? I don’t keep a headache diary because it’s easier to revise history for the better without a written record. Hiding how I feel from friends often lets me conceal it from myself too. Shouldn’t I latch onto any method that makes my migraines and headaches better, mentally or otherwise? Or does burying the severity keep me from seeking adequate treatment or taking care of myself.

I’m asking a lot of questions with no idea how to respond. Have you found answers to any of these questions for yourself? Please help me out!

9 Responses to Optimism or Self-Deception?

  1. Christy says:

    I don’t have any answers, but even after having had migraines since I was 7 yrs. old (now I’m 50), if I have a day without pain I always think, Oh, good! No more migraines! I think it was this unrealistically optimistic attitude that kept me from seeking medical attention for my headaches until three years ago, when I realized that this had been going on for forty years! Forty years of being surprised everytime I had a migraine, and then believing I would never get another one. It would be interesting to know if this is common among headache sufferers.

    ********
    It’s interesting that this went on so long for you. Do you feel like it helped you or that it was harmful in the end?

    Take care,
    Kerrie

  2. Kelly says:

    I have found that the more I “beautify” my difficult experiences – to myself or to others – the longer it takes me to work through them. By dressing them up I conceal their depth, breadth, and essence…leaving me to sift through which parts I’ve invented (in an attempt to make it easier to live through or with) and which parts REALLY need to be dealt with differently in order for me to heal. It is my experience that by being honest about the severity of a situation, being brave enough to admit I am afraid or confused, AND being willing to ask for the help I need leads me to resolution in a swifter manner than sculpting a sticky situation into something more presentable.

    As always, my thoughts and warmest wishes are with you!

    *******
    Great points. Thanks!

    Kerrie

  3. Pam says:

    It’s called optimism. We all want to be healthy, happy and “normal”. The reality is – this is normal for us. At least it is for me. I’ve accepted it. I don’t talk about it to anybody. I have my routine and I stick to it. My family accepts it. I accept it. My doctor has accepted it. I don’t get off my track. When I do, I pay a price – and so does everybody around me.

    Oh well. Such is life.

    ********
    Do you feel optimistic even though you’ve accepted it? I think I do, but know that acceptance can also mean defeat.

    Take care,
    Kerrie

  4. Jen says:

    I ignored my migraines as much as I could when they started, until I had the conscious thought that I could not deal with the pain if I put in all the energy I needed in order to get an answer from medical professionals.

    Now that my migraines have gone down in frequency and pain I keep track of them and don’t feel overwhelmed by the history (went from 3-5 days/week to about 7 days/month). Long-time lurker, first time commenter. I really enjoy this blog.

    *******
    Interesting that you can now track them OK. It makes sense.

    Thanks for the kind words. And for the comment — please leave more!

    Take care,
    Kerrie

  5. deborah says:

    I used to keep a diary when things were terribly bad. Now they aren’t as constant, thankfully, and I haven’t kept the diary in well over a year. I do it more through my site; which is why I actually started it.

    I fall into the same boat as Christy, when I feel real good, I get the false sense of security thinking that I’ll never have another migraine. Well, that doesn’t EVER work out – just as I’m finishing that thought, BAM! I usually get nailed with another storm, and it “gently” reminds me that they are forever with me, just not daily like they had been.

    Have been playing this all. of. my. life. You’d think I’d get it by now.

    ********
    Gently. Ha! 🙂

    Maybe thinking it won’t happen again is your way of “getting it.”

    Take care,
    Kerrie

    Kerrie

  6. Cory says:

    I am going through this very thing right now! I have been struggling to find a balance between being “positive” or being “real” when others ask how am I doing. Sometimes it helps my own mental state to just say that I am “ok” or “hanging in there” even though I may be dying inside. If I choose to be real on occasion, it can get messy! I end up getting too emotionally involved in the conversation and the flood gates are opened to reveal pain that I don’t always want to think about. I’ve wanted to comment or reach out sooner (I too am a long time lurker!) but always thought it would be too time consuming for me to oepn up, or being on the computer hurts my head, blah blah. I now realize that it is the sadness that comes from telling my truths that I am afraid of. This also keeps me from doing daily diaries too. Just can’t bring myself to do it! I don’t think we are in denial or that this way of coping keeps you from taking care of yourself, it is just the best way you, and many others, know how to deal. We have to be strong and optimistic to get by, but we also need to let it all out once in a while. (and not beat ourselves up for it!) I truly admire you for keeping this blog going! I get so much comfort in knowing that there are others out there going through this stuff too. Thank you! You have no idea how much your words have helped me along in my own struggle.

    ********
    Beautifully said. Opening up to the pain can be really helpful, but it is sooo hard. Please comment whenever you’re up for it!

    Take care,
    Kerrie

  7. Sue says:

    My therapist recently asked me about my headache diary and I told her it was fairly consistent and was even starting to bore me – and I’m IN it. I named the type of pain, the level of pain on a 10 scale, mood, any unusual changes in food or sleep or environment, blah blah blah…

    She suggested that instead of journaling all the crap, why not write down the good days and name the best parts of the days when the headache is not so severe.

    Good in theory, but the truth is the book is empty. I’m not entirely sure what that’s about, but I’ve had a really hard time with the “fake it til you make it” model.

    ******
    It often feels like the only way to deal with it is to fake it ’til you make it.

    I love your therapist’s suggestion. I wonder if it would be just as disheartening to see how few good days you have as it is to see how many bad days you have.

    Take care,
    Kerrie

  8. Karla says:

    Not in dealing with my head, but with depression/anxiety, my therapist also mentioned journaling about what is going “right” in my life. I think we all know that pain can create depression/anxiety, although I was already prone. Depression and pain cloud the thinking and make things seem worse than they are. They block out *everything* else. I don’t do this everyday, but I do try to do it and sometimes I am amazed that there are so many good things going on when I can’t see past my head to remember them.

    ********
    That’s great! It’s certainly an endorsement for trying it out.

    Take care,
    Kerrie

  9. Kate says:

    Hi Kerrie-
    I guess I’m in the “latch onto any method” camp. I’m with you. – Every time I get a worse migraine than I’ve had in a while, I’m totally surprised. It’s almost like I forget how awful it can get, even when I only have a couple of good days in between.

    The whole illness is such a head-trip, like a big mind game that my body is playing on me. Sometimes I’m optimistic; other times very discouraged and consumed with grief.

    I think that’s normal, but at the same time I DO think it would help me to get back into some kind of meditation, or some other daily method of getting grounded. I haven’t done it in ages, and it used to help me alot. It helped me feel some degree of stable identity even within all the crazy ups and downs. Of course, WILL I do this? I don’t know. Nowadays I’d rather rent movies and pretend this isn’t my life. Nothing wrong with that, but I think I need to find a better balance. If I hide for TOO long, then the emotions hit me pretty hard when they come back.

    Regarding headache diaries, I’ve kept them up for almost 6 years. My biggest purpose in that is to monitor my med use – particularly narcotics. If I don’t keep track, I end up using too many and then they lose effectiveness. It also helps me evaluate what’s working/not working over time. After so long, it’s an easy habit to keep up.

    I love your blog. Best to you.

    ********
    I’m with you about pretending my life is otherwise. A massage therapist just told me to try “going into” my migraines instead of distracting myself with a book. Meditation and envisioning a healing white light sound great in theory, but when the choice is to fight the migraine, be with it or escape from it, escaping always feels like the best idea to me.

    Thanks for the kind words and excellent comment.

    Take care,
    Kerrie

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