Chronic Migraine, Coping, Mental Health

Proving to Myself I’m Not a Faker

Everyone else will tell me that I couldn’t possibly be exaggerating my symptoms or being lazy. Too bad I tell myself the opposite. Pretty much constantly the last few days.

Last Tuesday, I ran errands, napped and saw my massage therapist. I was home by 3 p.m. and crashed — for the rest of the week. Beyond getting mail from the front porch, I literally didn’t leave my house until Saturday night.

Yet I’m convinced that I’m faking it. That my headaches and migraines haven’t been too bad; they’re an an excuse to read instead of attending to everything else in my life. So I have pushed myself to clean the contents of our basement (which flooded last Monday) out of the dining room and empty the dishwasher and check e-mail. And, and, and.

For once, I’m remembering that I’m not guiding this illness. I have been so sick the last two months that I can’t even keep appointments with doctors and massage therapists. As much as I berate myself for not actively seeking treatment, I know that I am honestly unable to right now.

I’m holding tight to the good hours I’ve had in the last week. Thursday and Saturday started well; Friday was good overall. Each day I was up and active until the pain, fogginess and nausea overwhelmed me. I was thrilled to be doing chores.

This isn’t the life of a faker. I’m not a faker. If only I were — I could be free of this misery and piece my life back together. I know all this deep down, but my mind stalls at self-criticism. Today I hear the faint murmurings of truth hiding under layers of doubt and judgment.

12 thoughts on “Proving to Myself I’m Not a Faker”

  1. I was googling migraines and was directed to your site. My 18 year old daughter had had migraines for 5 years and she has been in hell. I have had friends ask if she was doing it for attention and like you, she has better things to do than “play sick”. I am impressed with your site and your generosity to share your story. There is life with a migraine and that is the reality I have been looking for. Of course a relief from the daily pain after 5 years is our goal, life is happening and should not be missed while we wait. Thank you for making my day!

  2. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for this post!!! I wandered into your page here, completely by chance, and this blog post addressed something I have thought about a lot during my years with chronic daily headaches (I had my 8-year “anniversary” this November!), but that I’ve never really felt comfortable talking about myself. I’ve struggled a lot with the feeling of being “fake”, ever since I first got sick and one of my best friends jokingly called me a hypochondriac… (we were still in middle school, so now I blame it on the fact that we were still kids, and kids doesn’t always know the right things to say!)

    I KNOW I’m not faking this, I KNOW this is real. I don’t think anyone in their right mind would want to waste away their days by choice! I want to be happy, and living outside my apartment walls, and be able to enjoy the sunshine like everyone else, but for the time being, that’s not my life. And at times things are just too bad to be able to attend doctors appointments or hang out with friends. That’s just life in a I’m sure you know!

    But thanks for writing this! It really helped me today 🙂
    I wish you pain-free days ahead, or at least that you get some “breaks” in between the battles!


  3. Been there, done that Kerrie. Clearly, all of your commenters here have been in that place of doubting and questioning. I am home today with nausea and pain, and asked myself the VERY same question this morning.

    Am I avoiding something at work that I dont’ want to do?

    The answer: No. No. No. I’m in pain. Every bit as much as someone with appendicitis or pain from gall stones, or any other kind of REAL pain for that matter.

    Please be kind to yourself.

  4. For the longest time I wanted to believe that if I could only figure out the psychological underpinnings I knew must be provoking my pain, the pain would go away. I wanted so much to believe that somehow I was contributing to my pain, and therefore I could alleviate it. I know what you mean when you write – “If only I were a faker.” I wish for you that your courage and self awareness could be accompanied by an equal measure of self-compassion. And of course I wish you an infinity of good moments.

  5. Kerrie, I get so much from your posts. I’ve been going through a period much like yours. Today was my first day out in about a week and after only a couple hours had to nap for a couple hours. I’ve canceled more things in the last three weeks than I like to think about, including one of my nephews birthday party. Every time I had to cancel something, I’d doubt myself and my motives. It didn’t matter if I was throwing up from my toes from pain, I’d still start looking at my “motives.” Please keep being a voice for so many of us.


  6. kerrie,
    i’m sorry you have had such a hard time lately. i, too, can empathize with your self-doubts. even when the pain is very real, and we KNOW the pain is real, the opinions of doctors and friends who think it is manufactured by stress or something get to bothering you. i’m not explaining it well at all, but i just wanted to say that i understand what you’re going through. sometimes you have to prove to yourself (again and again) what your limits are.

  7. Dear Kerrie,
    It is amazing watching your life experience mirror my own so closely these last two months. I can’t impress upon you enough how the reflection is amazing. I have been on pins and needles almost daily hoping you would post since the gingerbread.
    Whatever you do please keep up this site if you can. It really helps, I wish I could help you. I swear I am exactly where you are. Sincerely, Cyndi

  8. Kerrie, people suck. and our own emotions can play games with us, as well. I guess when “they” see us feeling good for a while, they just assume we are miraculously healed, and in a sense so do we. And then we get nailed again by the mighty monster, not expecting it, not seeing it coming; and we are just doomed. Don’t beat yourself up. We ALL question ourselves. Just take it easy. You have inspired many more than you’ve let down, my friend. So just go get some rest, and defeat the monster the best you can.

    Put on some DMB and relax.

  9. For whatever it’s worth, and even though I know you know this, you are NOT a faker. If I’ve ever known anyone more dedicated to determining the source of her illness and beating it at its own game, I must have missed out on realizing it … for you are the one who inspires me most in this regard! AM

  10. Kerrie, I’m so sorry. I understand, I second-guess my sanity nearly daily. This hasn’t been a spectacular year for me, and my pain (not just headaches) is overwhelming lately. I just want to escape.

    My thoughts are with you. Wishing I could give you a tender hug IRL.

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