Tuesday I was at the edge of a precipice, the fear-filled obsessive thoughts were trying to lure me over. Instead of believing, as I did when I wrote Begging & Bargaining With the Migraine Gods, that a four-day (ultimately five-day) migraine attack following a good week was proof that I was about to tumble into the depths of migraine and depression, I practiced mindfulness the last two days as if my life depended on it. Instead of giving into the churning worry, I took many deep, calming breaths and continually brought myself back to the moment. I took the hamster off the wheel time and time again.
I told myself: “Nothing is permanent. How I felt last week does not matter today, how I feel today does indicate what tomorrow (or the next week, next month, next year) will be like. What I have or haven’t felt in the past or even right now does not determine what may or may not happen. I only have today, right now, this moment.”
Whenever I began to despair, I went through it all again. And it worked. Instead of my thoughts spiraling into bleakness, I stayed grounded. I did not sink into the pit of depression that was calling to me. When the migraine lifted, I felt like my body had been through a wringer, but my mind had not.
Since learning mindfulness techniques five years ago, I’ve employed them many times to cope with migraine and depression, though never in such an intense, heavy-duty way as I have this week. The potential for emotional turmoil in this attack was immense, but I avoided the “what ifs” and remained peaceful. That’s good medicine.