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Migraine’s Not the Boss of Me

It has been more than three years since I’ve blogged regularly. In my absence from The Daily Headache, I have had the most excruciating, unrelenting migraines of my 35 years. I have been housebound for weeks, bedridden for days. I have questioned the value of my life.

These years have been harrowing, but they have also been filled with love, beauty and hope. In the last year, since my move to Phoenix, the migraines have relented some and I have begun to heal from the vast physical and emotional toll of the previous years. The pieces of what felt like a shattered life are coming back together.

Migraine was in control. Not anymore. Never again.

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Remembering Why I Blog

My mood lifted almost immediately after I posted on Monday. When I sat down to write, I had no idea what was going to come out. The ideas that flowed through my fingers surprised me. And released the reminders of why blogging has been a crucial “treatment” for my migraine and chronic daily headache.

While writing, I work through what’s bothering me and discover feelings I didn’t know I had. I speak candidly without worrying you will be distressed by what you read (as I fear my friends and family will be). In fact, there’s a good chance sharing my grief or guilt or pain will somehow help in your journey and provide comfort. I also don’t have to pretend to be someone I’m not. You come here knowing I have a chronic illness. You don’t remember who I was before I got sick, so you don’t miss who I used to be. Nor will I scare you off by talking about my struggles, as I feel I do many new people.

Whenever I talk about the blog, I focus on helping other people who are in a similar situation. I say the relief and support I get from it are lovely, but I’m really doing it for the readers. Now I see I am the true beneficiary. Even though I have been absent much of the last two years, this community has been crucial in my emotional healing. Thank you.

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Asking for Help & Beginning to Heal

Since stubbornness is one of my most prominent traits, I long thought sheer tenacity could snuff out the migraines. If not through willing them away (a useless endeavor), then by relentless pursuit of treatment. Instead, I have spent the last two years feeling like the migraines and accompanying depression had conquered me. Being obstinate wasn’t enough. Only by asking for help has my despair transformed to hope.

“I can do it myself” is probably my most oft-uttered sentence. When it comes to my health, I can’t. Sequestering myself only made it worse. The isolation wasn’t intentional. It started a decade ago with me thinking that talking about my ailment would automatically make me a complainer. It ended in November with me reaching out to my friends, screaming and crying and holding their hands as I fought through the worst migraines I’ve ever had.

Letting people know (and see) how bad the migraines truly are and the havoc they wreak on my entire nervous system lightened my heart. The severity of my depression since Hart and I moved to Boston is more than I wish to revisit. It is far from gone, but I can now see a way out.

People often tell me I’m brave for dealing with illness as well as I do. Asking for help took more courage than anything else I’ve faced. I was convinced I had let everyone in my life down. That canceled plans and unreturned phone calls (and emails and text messages…) made them love me less. Completely untrue.

If you are in a similar place of hopelessness, please, please reach out to the people you love. They love you whether or not you are sick. The rewards of asking for help make the necessary vulnerability worth it.