Migraine affects us all differently. While some migraineurs experience daily migraines, others get them once or twice a month or even once or twice a year. Some of us are completely disabled by each and every one of our attacks, others are able to “power through” some of their more essential tasks. But, we are all affected by migraine, in our way.
This is something I feel we sometimes forget. It is also something I think is vitally important for us all to remember.
Migraine is, as almost all invisible illnesses are, a profoundly isolating disease. It is also very frequently associated with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and domestic violence – all of which tend to make us feel even more alienated. The immense community available to us online is one of the main things that keeps most of us above water. Yet, like all communities, it has its shares of petty jealousies, competitiveness, and judgment.
If we’re truly going to be the community I know we can be, we have to keep these facts in mind. When we lose sight of them, we fail not only each other but also ourselves.
I recently read a fellow blogger’s post about her surprise at the backlash she experienced from some readers when she admitted to finally asking her doctor to sign papers so she could obtain a handicapped license plate. As a migraineur living in a state where temperatures routinely reach over 100 degrees at least six months out of the year, I totally understand her reasoning. I too have been confined to my house for months on end because it was too hot outside and the sun was too bright for me to walk across a parking lot without getting an instant, severe migraine attack. A front row parking space would really help maintain quality of life.
I get it. But, not every reader did. Worse yet, some of those who didn’t agree decided to share their disagreement in the ugliest way possible: an attack.
And, while many of us would never respond in such a manner, we still occasionally judge and condemn one another in various ways. I’m as much to blame as anyone else.
Recently, my husband experienced his first ever full-blown migraine attack. As someone who lives with a migraine more often than not, I knew exactly what to do. I sent him to bed, brought him medication and water, drew the blinds, and left him to sleep it off in the dark. But, all the while, there was a small part of me that was whispering: “Come on. However bad it is, can’t you power through until the kids go to bed? I do.”
I didn’t really feel that way, of course. Not most of me, anyway. The vast majority of my inner self, wanted him to take the time to recover. I also knew that, during my worst attacks, I too crawl into bed as soon as I am able to do so and try not to move. But, I still thought it.
And, many of us think such things all the time.
This is normal. In some ways, it may even be healthy. But, it absolutely goes against what we’re trying to do online, which is offer each other support, unconditionally.
So, here’s my vow to you: I won’t judge you. No matter what you say on this website. No matter what decisions you make about your life, your health, and managing your disease. No matter how often or how rarely you experience an attack. Instead, I will hear you. I will support you. Unconditionally.