Thursday, July 24, 2008

I choose to be a Survivor.

Anyone who has experienced chronic migraines or headaches has surely felt sadness or anxiety about them. They can be overwhelming and make one feel very helpless. Chronic migraines and headaches sometimes seem as though they are driving the bus.

When I experience migraines and of course my daily headache (NDPH), I often lose heart. I can feel as though I am at the mercy of my disease. And rightfully so, since my life revolves around whether my head is "good enough" or not.

I do not work because my head is not able to handle it. I rarely go to church because my head cannot handle it. I rarely get together with friends because my head cannot handle it.

"It is not fair."

Ah, this has been a frequent phrase in my conversation with myself, with God, with my husband. And, it very well may be that it is not fair. So many things have happened outside of my choosing as a result of this disease. But, how does this help me walk through the pain?

"It is not fair" may help me momentarily cope with what seems like unimaginable circumstances, but the long term damage is that I become a victim to the disease. And, in result, I turn deeper in my despair.

I do not want to be a victim. I want to be a survivor.
This disease means that there will be many battles ahead. I want to focus on what will bring me through each migraine and back to my life. I want to carry close to my heart thoughts that will daily encourage me to walk through my NDPH. I want thoughts I can hold onto that will bring me through the battles that wear me out and pull me down. I want thoughts that will hold me up when I am horrified by what I am having to face.

One of the things that has bothered me the most about having disabling migraines and NDPH is this loss of control in my life. Since there are an abundance of things out of my control, I decided to come up with a list of things that are in my control. It is not very long, but it is extremely helpful.

My list:

1. My Diet- This means I have a choice what I put in my mouth.

2. My Exercise- This means when I am able to, I have a choice to keep my body active.

3. My Head Game- This means I have a choice in how I think about my migraines and NDPH. And, I can choose
how I react to them.

May it be written on the back of my eyelids that even when everything else is taken away, I still have control in regards to how I react to the situation I am facing. I still have a choice.

I choose to be a survivor. Onward into battle.

Article - Why Migraines Strike

Some of my fellow bloggers have brought to my attention this wonderful article by Scientific American. I had to post it as well. My dear readers, please check this out.

Why Migraines Strike

For a great synopsis, check out From the Lake to You - Great Migraine Reading on Megan Oltman's blog.

Monday, July 14, 2008

July Headache Blog Carnival

The July edition of the Headache & Migraine Disease Blog carnival is up at Somebody Heal Me.

July Headache Blog Carnival -- How Spirituality Helps Us Cope With Migraine Disease

Generally speaking, a blog carnival is a collection of links to a variety of blogs on a central topic. The Headache & Migraine Disease Blog Carnival has been created to provide both headache and migraine disease patients and people who blog about headache disorders with unique opportunities to share ideas on topics of particular interest and importance to us. Visit the link to this month's carnival for a collection of informative entries on how spirituality helps us cope with migraines and headaches.

Friday, July 11, 2008

From Despair to Hope

The onset of my migraine disease and New Daily Persistent Headache was sudden. One day, I was functioning, the next day, I thought I was dying. And I was not being dramatic. Before my migraines, I had a naïve way of thinking. I thought that when you got to a certain level of severity of pain, you died. And when I did not die from this incredibly horrific migraine pain, I certainly wondered what the heck God was thinking. How could he allow this? And all at once, I had compassion for so many who had suffered from pain so great.

As migraine disease and NDPH disabled me, my life took a drastic switch from busy and fulfilling, to slow and empty. I was angry at God. I felt alone. I did not understand. My faith in God had been unshakable up until that point. And, as my days with constant pain continued, I saw that I had a choice: To love God, the one I believed could relieve my pain, or not. God was not choosing to relieve my pain. And I struggled with that.

As I have had constant pain since the onset of my disease, waking up to a new day has sometimes been very difficult. I could not see any hope for my future because the pain was not relenting. Especially when I hit the one year mark and then the two year mark of daily intense pain, I realized my new normal was pain. I could not remember what it felt like to not have pain.

I got to a point where I doubted my faith and had given up on hope for anything to improve. I read something by Henri Nouwen, a catholic priest and author. In the book, Inner Voice of Love, Nouwen’s diary from when he experienced severe bouts with depression, he wrote the following: “Your main question should always be whether something is lived with or without God.”

God had let me down. He had not protected me from pain and suffering. So how was I to trust, love and believe in him? My faith had been shaken. But, Nouwen changed my mind. I decided I wanted to live my “something,” my migraines and NDPH with God. Regardless of if I had hope or faith or what, I want to live it with God. Logically, I decided that having God in my life is much better than without Him, even if my pain remained the same.

But what about hope? I wanted hope that my migraine disease and NDPH would be significantly better if not cured. But, as I discovered, that is circumstantial hope, hope that is dependent on those circumstances. If I became soley dependent on the hope that my circumstances would change for the better, I would feel very let down when they did not change how I thought they would. When I did not improve or when the pain racked my body again, I felt scared and alone. I questioned how I could continue when I was repeatedly disappointed. I often times would despair.

I could not ride the roller coaster of circumstantial hope. I had to find something more secure that I could depend on. I needed something to keep me walking forward despite my circumstances and that was Jesus. He died for me, for all of us. He gives me hope for a new life in Him. In Him, there is hope that someday there will be no more pain and suffering.

As I walk through my life, Jesus is walking beside me. He cries with me when the pain is unbearable. He holds me when I am weak. He is my strength to continue when I just don’t think I can stand another minute. Knowing that he cares about me and loves me so much, gives me hope.

And hope is intregral in continuing to fight the battle of my migraine disease and NDPH.

Faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see. Hebrews 1:11