Turning 40 has been unexpectedly difficult for me. It’s not aging so much, but the recognition that I have spent the last 15 years in service to migraine. While I don’t normally worry about the future, somehow moving to a new decade has me projecting the past 15 years onto the next. I’ve written more about my churning thoughts, but they don’t feel worth sharing. I don’t want to spend more time thinking about grief and fear right now. Because even though these days have been difficult, my heart is also swelling with gratitude.
A friend was over last night and she, knowing how much I love my birthday, asked what my plans are. I explained that it’s been tough making plans because I can’t celebrate with food (which is how I used to celebrate everything), the weather is still too hot to do anything outside, and I’ve been getting migraine attacks every time I’m indoors in a public space. That led into a conversation about how scared I am that my life will always revolve around my health, how I panic whenever my migraine pattern (and responsiveness to treatment) changes, and how tired I am of exerting so much effort just to remain barely functional. As I cried, so did she. When I told her I just want to eat cake for my birthday, she told me she wants that for me, too.
I’m always grateful for this friend, but the cake thing took it over the top. She knows how much food means to me and how momentous eating cake would be. It was a reminder that she always sees me for who I am and listens to what I have to say. She doesn’t have migraine, but she totally understands what I am going through.
Having a friend like this feels like such a gift, but this is just one story of one friend. She’s not all that different from the rest of my friends. They understand that when I talk about migraine, I’m telling them about my life, not complaining. They listen with concern and love. They also get that sometimes I don’t want to talk (or think) about migraine at all. They aren’t put out when I have to reschedule or when I retreat from the world for months at a time. They see who I am underneath migraine and recognize how hard I try to get better. They love me.
I’m turning 40 after a very difficult year with my health. I am sad about the past and fearful of the future. I am also amazed by the beauty and joy in my life. I have the support of so many amazing people. Even on the hardest days, I never doubt that I am loved. That’s what I am going to focus on today, not the loss and longing that has filled this year or fretful thoughts of a future I cannot predict. As I celebrate my birthday, I’m also celebrating the abundance of love in my life.
12 thoughts on “Gratitude and Love Amidst the Pain”
Man do i hear ya! I’m 53 & i feel very isolated. I have an amazing 24 yr old daughter nearby who is prob the reason Im still here. I get migraines sporadically, but its my depression that hurts me. I too cant count on making plans and I too will sometimes disappear for months, socially. Its fairly difficult to maintain relationships like that & few people understand- or truthfully care to hear about or deal with anything like that.
This site inspires me though- I wonder if there is a similar depression forum, or if tomorrow Ill remember or care.
I hate defining myself as my illness yet it pervades every part of my being & life.
I moved away from my hometown years ago & so most of my relatives & all of my growing up friends are far away. I grew up in Northern Wisconsin, where the Winters are hard & long & I just dont do well with that. I live in California now.
I wish depression was better understood & less stigmatized.
Its hard enough without being shamed & shunned for it.
I was a Childrens therapist, I have a Masters degree, raised my 2 kids mostly on my own, bought my own house, ride a Harley Fatboy. I’m not weak, a crybaby or feeling sorry for myself. But this s*** kicks my a** & jacks up my life on a regular basis.
I fight harder against this than anyone i know, & yet it is mostly a silent battle i face alone. Not feeling sorry for myself- its just truth.
Anyway, thanks for the space to comment & Keep On Keepin On all you Migraine Sufferers! You are an inspiration. Live & Light to you.
Happy Birthday! This post resonated so much with me. I’m 34 and do not know a life without migraines. They are thankfully mostly controlled with meds right now, but I get some stray ones from weather or food triggers not yet identified. I have always hated not feeling like I could make plans or eat like a “normal” person. Oh, the tears shed over this disease I couldn’t even begin to tell you. Thank you for this blog. We are not alone. Science will get better and there will be better answers.
Thank you, Ann! I, too, have shed many tears over migraine. I’m glad your migraine attacks are pretty well under control now.
I hope you ate an entire cake.
You are a gifted writer, yes to all of this. I’m grateful for my family and my dogs. I’m hanging on, but there is a lot of grief about being misunderstood… people think you’ve given up, when in reality you are gutting it out every day just to survive and participate in the world.
I think I’m going to have a hard time with 50 for similar reasons. I”m debating going with 49 and holding.
You’re right! We love you.
I hope you have a happy birthday, in whatever forms you discover, with real, or virtual cake. Your posts are a gift to me and I am grateful. Your life makes a difference to those around you and I appreciate how you reach through the difficulties to write your posts for me and others.
Wishing you joy.
71 today, and have chronic migraines. There are valleys and there are mountains in my life, and Monster M presents itself in both, but so does My full time supporters such as my husband, my family, and most of all-God. He sees me through them and believe me sometimes as you all know it can be a rough ride, day before, day of, and day after. I’ll make it. I have a wonderful family physician who I can pour out my heart to, and a very understanding neuro who is trying to find me solutions. These all are blessings and I thank God for them. Want to talk anytime, please e-mail me. It helps to talk to a fellow migraine sufferer.
We hear you. I feel very much the same way. I’m “only” 18 months in to this chronic-daily-migraine journey, and I’m terrified of what’s to come. Thanks for sharing your journey with us. We are not alone, though it often feels that we are.
You are very fortunate to have such support. My experience hasn’t been the same and I feel more isolated than I ever have before. I struggle having an invisible illness and find few people really want to hear about it. Having to frequently cancel plans -to the point that I hesitate to even make plans- has only exacerbated my isolation. I spend my few spoons just trying to keep up with chores and never seem to catch up. It is demoralizing to use my few good hours cleaning. I was once so high functioning and competent that I often feel ashamed (although I know this is not rational). Sometimes I think that if I did not have my dog, I wouldn’t be able to continue this fight. I am extremely grateful for my dog’s unconditional love.