4. Finding Nemo: “Just keep swimming”: How do you keep going in life when Migraineor or another Headache Disorder deals you a difficult set back?
Chronic migraines are daily at this point for me and there is this fact that nothing I do can be routine. That is a constant frustration but it is also a fact. I have come to understand it is just the way it is and there is no such thing as routines and consistent habits… just maintaining the best I can. Like exercise. It is impossible for me to exercise every day. I exercise when I can at the level I can. I should not see this as a fault or that I can never set a routine for Monday, Wednesday and Friday because… sorry, my brain just may disagree with that fact. You do what you can when you can and never apologize for when you cannot.
It is only a problem when I am working, trying to get to work every day, trying to maintain a sleep cycle during the week when the pain is peaked, trying to maintain other routines and habits when I am burned out and failing on all scores. Always felt like the best I could do was keep my head above water. Frankly just managing to get to work was a success but I had to learn not to be consumed by guilt when I could not. But there were always major set backs because eventually the lack of a effective preventative and lack of pain management would lead to a short term leave of absence. And when I got back to work things would be tricky with my employer, sometimes they would have demoted me, at times they expected me to have been cured in my absence, at times just peeved about the whole leave altogether… so you have to just get that all sorted again and get back in the flow, even though the migraine situation hasn’t changed at all. But those leaves were so necessary not just because of different medical reasons at the time but because of the strain of coping with unmanaged pain while working… so I always felt mentally better on my return and ready to try again. Although eventually you do realized it is just one major set back after another and it isn’t working out so well.
It is a lot less stressful not working. If I cannot do something one day, then I will do it the next. If I am unable to exercise one day, then I will choose something less strenuous I can do. I never get discouraged by a bad day because I know I will still do the things I plan on doing on the good days or in the good moments. I am a lot more flexible with things. Lot less stressed because I do not have to function in high levels of pain every day. And I can do a lot more of the healthy changes I want because I have the pain reserve to do so and the flexibility to choose the right time to do them in. As well as the energy. And more sleep. Set backs can be a lot more discouraging when you are surviving a high stress environment in a great deal of pain, on very little sleep all the time… feels like you never make any progress and some set backs can be even depressing at times. But these days they are not. Migraines are the fact I have to work around and it is just going to disrupt some of the exercises I want to do, some of the things I want to get done, progress I make and other facets of my life… and I just pick up the next day like that was a blip on the radar. Sometimes I lose more than a few days, but it is what it is. The fact is all the things I do, all the habits I am establishing are good ones to maintain even if I cannot do them as consistently or routinely as I would without migraines popping in and out of my life… but the idea is that these things will be beneficial anyway. And when it comes to all other aspects of my life… well migraines always disrupt them. That isn’t a set back… that is a fact of life… I just tend not to make firm plans. Coping with the pain is always a day at a time.
June 2013, Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, is dedicated to Unmasking the Mystery of Chronic Headache Disorders. The 2013 Migraine and Headache Awareness Month Blog Challenge is a project of FightingHeadacheDisorders.com.