Migraine awareness Day 9 What fear can teach us:
I love this lecture. Great way to look at fears. Because it is exactly true. They are indeed stories we tell ourselves. Often based on anxiety we have about the future. As a child, I had a very vivid imagination. And I think of all the silly things that caused and I laugh now, but I was also quite intelligent. I knew when it was my imagination. And I also used that imagination to think about other big questions. I think imagination is a wonderful thing.
However as adults perhaps when applied to fears and worries we do not quite use it so well. It sort of works against us. We can have a very vivid imagination of all our worries and fears as well. We can create literally the worse case scenarios. And know it is the worst-case scenario but still have anxiety about it because we created this damn compelling image. If we used our coolness of judgment as she said we would discard that and look for the more realistic fears in there that we could work with. To not do so is catastrophizing… looking at this worst-case scenario.
I fear things like my pain will never end and I will have to return to work. Both together that is. I fear that working with that pain will make me suicidal again, not right away, but somewhere down the road, from just the pain. In other words, if that happens I fear migraines will kill me. Logically I am doing what I can to prevent that by going on long-term leave from work and taking into consideration all my options.
However, I can say that when I was suicidal I looked at the future and all I saw was this long painful road ahead of me. Where nothing changed. It was just endless pain. No treatment for it. Work that tormented me. And it seemed like madness. It is madness really to endure that. Madness that doctors seem to think pain has no price or consequences to it.
I can say after surviving that experience that acknowledged that the story I had told myself might be a little long term. In that, I cannot know that the pain I have today will be the same as it will be a decade from now. Also that while I may not be able to do anything about the pain I could try to deal with how I reacted to the pain and the suffering that comes from pain… that I had a little bit of mobility there. I also had believed my work situation was set in stone. Could not not work, as that causes poverty and could not continue to work as that caused immense suffering. However, I did eventually get on long-term leave and that helps me look at other solutions because I no longer have that high-intensity pain and sleep deprivation cycle to worry about that could with frequent status migraines. I also had not believed a doctor would ever look at pain management because it certainly seemed historically for me they certainly did not. However, my new doctor has sent me to a pain clinic because she believes it is important to look at ways to treat the migraines along with my other chronic pain.
The story I had told myself wasn’t the worst-case scenario. It was the… what if Nothing Changes scenario. What if this pain never ends, doctors never care and I must pretend to function forever outlook. I really had a hard time wanting to survive there. And can you blame me? The amount of pain I was in. Sleep-deprived as I was. Hearing that horror story? And it was certainly a plausible story. Not saying it was not. I’m just saying once I was able to apply my reason to the situation as it stood I was able to say ‘what can I change and how can I change it?’ Maybe nothing would have changed. We have so little control over doctors and their opinions. And it is difficult to enact any sort of change if there is no adjustment in pain. My fear lay in the fact I have this chronic migraine disease, I know pain will be a factor… but what if it stays at its worst? And now my fear lays in the idea of what if it goes back to that? Because I still have daily migraines it would only take having to work all the time with them, getting little sleep to be exactly where I was. I think that is a pretty rational fear, to be honest, but one I try to counter by trying to learn all sorts of different ways to help with the pain, suffering, sleep… whatever.
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