Telling "My Story"-Navigating Dating and Friendships

9:18 PM chronicmigraineellie 0 Comments

I've come to realize how terrifying it is to tell people about my migraines. What people don't realize is that my migraines are a very personal, painful and current part of my life. Especially when things could possibly get romantic, it terrifies me to think that someone might leave me because of my migraines. Even if someone is just a friends, it terrifies me because I feel like I have to filter what is going on with me so that way I don't freak them out or make it seem like I'm some sick person who needs their sympathy.
It frustrates me, because sometimes I just need someone to talk to about my problems. I'm very lucky to have friends at home who were very involved and supportive of my illness. Yet uprooting and moving across the country has created a whole host of new issues. It's definitely hard when I'm just starting to get to know people to feel comfortable talking to them about what's going on in my life. Frequently, I find myself putting on a mask and pretending that I'm better than I actually am or downplaying symptoms. While I know that this isn't healthy, it reinforces the loneliness that I feel. I recently joined a Chronic Migraine Support Group on Facebook, and it''s helped a lot in providing visibility into other people's struggles. Yet even though I know that there are other people who struggle, the number of people in my life who personally suffer from migraines is very small, especially to the severity that I experience.
Having migraines is very anxiety-inducing, and even the most calm people will feel stressed and impacted. There is an overlying notion of the unknown which affects every part of your life. You never know when the next migraine will hit, when it will stop, or how long you'll feel the side effects. The unknown is the most terrifying part, because you can be relatively stable and enjoying life and the next moment you're lying in bed in pain.
As I'm writing this, I'm personally stressed out as I've had energy problems for the past week and an increase in frequency in my migraines. I'm working out transportation to go see my doctor at Yale on top of my class work and everything else that I have to do. And to be quite honest, I'm absolutely terrified that I will snowball again and become so sick that I can't function again. It feels weird, because this is so personal and I wouldn't tell this to half the people that I know. But it is accepting this vulnerability and showing it to others that informs people, and lets them know what is going on with migraineurs. As my parents have told me, communication is key. I am the only one who knows how much pain I'm in and how much I'm impacted, and if I don't say anything about it, I only suffer in silence. To everyone out there, migraineurs or not, it is important to convey how you are feeling, because you will feel better talking about it. I feel better even writing this post.
This is not to say that I don't have fears about dating and friendships, but I know that out there somewhere, there is going to be someone who understands and supports me. Sometimes, it's important to show that vulnerability. Sometimes it's important to hide. It's all based on how you feel, but always know when to ask for help.
I hope that this post made sense, as I'm quite emotional and tired. I hope everyone has a lovely migraine free week! And who knows... this may not be my only post for the week!

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Aches and Pains

1:48 PM chronicmigraineellie 0 Comments

To many, the actual migraine may be the worst part of having chronic migraines. While it is true tthat it is the most excruciating and the worst pain in the world, its the side effects that are what is the worst and most stressful for me. After a migraine, everything is heightened, which makes even going outside seem daunting. My sense of smell, my sensitivity to light and sound, but most of all my aches and pains. I usually feel like my joints have been pulled apart and stuck back together, and my back and neck sometimes are so stiff that I can barely move. What's worse is that usually I have to go about my day pretending that nothing is wrong, smiling through the insufferable pain that makes me want to lie in bed all day. It's never fun to deal with any type of pain, especially when it just pops up out of no where. For example, as I am writing this, my back and neck feel as if someone punched it in and kept their hand there. It's not a fun feeling, but I've learned how to make it better for myself. So here's some tips to alleviate your aches and pains from yours truly.
1. STRETCH
Yes, it will hurt. Yes, it's not fun at all. But thank my mother for telling me to do this even when I would almost cry from the pain. It helps! I do some yoga usually,  very simple poses in order to try and loosen up my muscles. I usually start with child's pose, really trying to stretch out my shoulders and lower back. Them, the cat/cow pose on your hands and knees where you push your belly out, curving you back with your head up, and then breathe out, lowering the head and creating a bend in your back. Then there's also neck rolls, which are very helpful in loosening up your neck. While these will definitely not take the pain away completely, they will help you get to a point where it is possible to get out of bed. Furthermore, taking a bath or a hot shower where you slowly stretch you muscles to try and get them to release under warm/hot water.
2. Breathe
You may be surprised to hear this, but when I am in pain, I have to make conscious decisions to breathe. It's not that I forget, it's just that the pain takes over in my head and I forget to take deep breaths in and out. This can also help to alleviate the pain but also to calm you down and get to a point where you can think rationally.
3. Massage the places where it hurts.
If you don't have someone who can do it for you, you should try as much as you an to do it yourself. It doesn't have to be a lot, just enough to move the muscle a little bit to give some release.
4. Remember that the pain is temporary
It may seem like the pain goes on for hours, but always remember that at some point, this will go away.  Sometimes it is hard to remember that you aren't alone, that you don't have to put up a front, I am guilty of that too. Reach out to close friends and family for positive reinforcement, and remember, that whatever you can get done that day is amazing.
Lastly, remember that I am always here if someone needs to reach out. I know how lonely this struggle can be, because I'm living it too. You are not alone, even though it may feel like it. There are many places online where spoonies and migraineurs can talk about their problems and get advice from other spoonies and allies.
I hope these tips help, and I hope that the rest of your week is migraine free!

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Spoon Theory-Why it's Important for Non-Spoonies to Read

4:38 PM chronicmigraineellie 0 Comments

I had heard of the Spoon Theory before, and many people with chronic illnesses refer to themselves as spoonies (myself included!). Yet I read the actual article this past week, and I felt that it was so important to share with everyone because it struck a chord in a very deep personal place that I had been struggling with. After a couple of rough weeks, I finally stopped having migraines daily for the first time in about two weeks.  I was up to my neck in work, struggling to get everything done and trying to prioritize. While some of my friends can pull all-nighters and stay up until 3 or 4 in the morning, I can't do that for risking a migraine or even my possible functioning the next day. As I am currently trying to navigate how I live my life, it was very hard for me to see other people work and live their lives in such a normal way. For as much as I have come to terms with my migraines, I still feel like such an outsider. I have a couple friends here who I can talk to, but overall I feel unable to talk to people about my problems without making them feel bad for me. I don't want to make them feel bad, I just want someone to understand what I'm going through. Reading the Spoon Theory, it made me think of all of my friends that I wish that I could talk to about my daily problems. I think it is very educational, and necessary for understanding someone who has any chronic illness. As I am writing this, 4 days gluten-free again, and just grateful that I can focus,write and sleep again, I remember how lonely I felt and how lonely I feel when faced with explaining my migraines and my daily life to people who can never seem to understand it. I'm going to look into starting a chronic illness support group at my university, because it's important to build up a network of people who understand what you're going through as well as educating people who can become allies in your time of need. 
So here's the link to Christine Miserandino's blog, "But You Don't Look Sick." Her blog is truly amazing and worth the time to read her articles. 
Finally,  if you are reading this in support of someone with a chronic illness, I encourage you to read her article, and even test out the spoon theory with your loved one or friend who is suffering, to really understand what they are going through. For all my spoonies out there, remember that we can live our lives,  one day at a time.
I hope that everyone has a wonderful migraine-free week! 

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