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Progress is Not Linear: Arrrgggh!

I fall for it every time. One good week and I assume every week thereafter will be exactly the same: low pain, little fatigue, high energy. Two weeks ago I went to four yoga classes, cleaned, ran errands, and wrote like crazy. The next week was only two yoga classes, a little writing, and one massively productive day around the house. This week? Nada. Well, I made it to yoga Monday, but have otherwise done very little. My mind, in its unhelpful negative self-talk mode, says I’m being lazy. My body, with its bone-deep fatigue, nausea, and aching head, says I need to rest.

Not only do I assume each week will be the same as (or better than) previous weeks, but if it isn’t, my default belief is that I’m doing something wrong. I’m not sleeping at the right times or eating the right food or doing the right amount of exercise. With the amount of emotional energy I spend trying to do everything right or following up on all the “shoulds,” you’d be hard-pressed to know that I’m rather a free spirit. Attempting to keep migraine at bay has turned me into a rule follower. That there’s an infinite number of rules, none of which apply all the time or to everyone with migraine, makes me exert even more effort toward perfection.

I cannot think that the diet isn’t working wonders. I won’t let myself believe that I’m not making continual progress. Which is totally absurd. I have had chronic daily headache for 25 years and debilitating chronic migraine for more than a decade. Assuming that improvement will be linear is illogical. There will be ups and downs, steps forward and steps back. I know all this. Now how do I believe it?

Time to back off, breathe deeply, and just be. Be without scrutinizing, judging, or attempting to change. These are the big lessons in life that I embrace in theory. Applying them is the challenge.

7 Responses to Progress is Not Linear: Arrrgggh!

  1. It’s SO hard not to fall into this trap. We just have to keep coming back to center and reminding ourselves to just be. It’s always going to be a work in progress, yet it’s hard to accept that, I think.

  2. Susan says:

    Thanks. This speaks to me today. Last week I had 8 great days in a row. I even went ice skating for the first time in a decade. I was convinced the new homeopathic remedy was helping. And it may have been. But then a snow storm, my period and an emotionally intense experience knocked me down. Just before my husband left for a business trip leaving me alone with our four year old. I barely got by. And the pain could last for two weeks. Each time I crash, its not a short path back to feeling good. So discouraging. I’m a free spirit too, but am trying to control for every variable. Thanks for writing this blog. I look forward to reading it because it speaks to me and touches me. Wishing you well. Susan

  3. Timothy Bauer says:

    Kerrie:

    You have great insight. As a fellow migraneur kind of know
    what you are feeling. Please do not beat yourself up. You
    are doing everything possible at this particular moment.
    Let yourself off the hook. Keep in mind the Serenity Prayer-
    that pretty well covers it all.

    Serenity Prayer

    “God grant me the serenity
    to accept the things I cannot change;
    courage to change the things I can;
    and wisdom to know the difference.”

  4. Nilofer says:

    I totally get what you are saying too. The triggers search and destroy mission is not always onward and upward but more like two steps forward, one step back. The hormonal triggers often trip me up. I blame a food when it might just have been a hormonal shift. That being said, verification sometimes comes at just the right time. I got my gluten sensitivity test results back. This was a genetic test, not the antibody test which came back negative (since I had given up most gluten at the time, the antibody test was negative). I carry 3 genes associated with gluten sensitivity. The first two are associated with celiac and the third, 0501 (HLA-DQ1) which is associated with migraines/neurological disorders. There is one other associated with migraines I think. Check out the Gluten Free Society’s website for info. and great video lectures. This test isn’t covered by insurance but worth the cost if you are trying to orient your days to avoid pain. I recommend everyone with frequent head pain to read “The Gluten Effect” by Vikki and Richard Petersen. On the cover is a woman holding her head in pain. The author’s mother suffered from migraines for 50 years and they were resolved after going gluten-free. The author discusses other illnesses associated with gluten but a good portion is about the auto-immune effects of gluten (the body attacks its own brain cells).

  5. Nilofer says:

    Since I wrote the above it prompted me to check Dr Vikki Petersen’s blog to see if she had anything new to report and she posted this short video lecture in January about gluten and neurological impact:
    http://www.healthnowmedical.com/blog/2013/01/25/is-gluten-destroying-your-brain/

  6. Collyermum says:

    Thank you for your posts! I am just the same. After starting Magnesium supplements last month, I am now down to migraines only about half the time, but like you when I have a few days “off” I always think it will be forever, even though I know it won’t, and make plans…

    Nice to know I’m not the only one! Maybe a bit of migraine relief does something to our logic circuits!

    Thanks for your blog, it has helped a lot :-)

  7. James says:

    Excellent reminder, Kerrie! One of the first things I tell people who are newly diagnosed is that they need to learn patience. Look for long term results. And yes, even then it can be a rollercoaster (sometimes a fast one, sometimes a slow one!).

    Even then, it’s easy to think your life is falling apart during a bad week.

    Just sayin’ – I agree!

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