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Dear Friend: What You Should Know About My Migraines and Anxiety

Dear Friend,

When I saw you Googling “migraines” and “anxiety” last night, my heart skipped a beat. We were at a café and I had just returned from the toilet. You had your back against me.

All I could picture in my head was the movie “50/50.” Have you seen it? There’s this scene where a sickly Adam chances upon a book in his friend’s bathroom. It’s titled “Facing Cancer Together.” The book is chock-full of notes and dog-eared pages. The sight of it makes Adam feel warm and fuzzy.

That’s because the previous day, Adam berates Kyle – that’s the friend – for not taking his cancer seriously and for using it to get dates with women. Now that he sees the book, he realizes Kyle isn’t as insensitive as he looks. He cares. He just shows it differently.

Like you.

Prior to you Googling, you patted my hand when I likened my invisible illnesses to having an explosive pellet in my head. I was using dark humor to cast some light on an awful situation. You were quiet – not because you were uncomfortable, but because you were mulling over this new piece of information. (I reckon that prompted you to Google for help.)

According to one Monica Drake, “The Buddhists say if you meet somebody and your heart pounds, your hands shake, your knees go weak, that’s not the one. When you meet your ‘soul mate’ you’ll feel calm. No anxiety, no agitation.”

I’m not religious. I don’t believe in soul mates either. But the aforementioned passage struck a chord with me because that’s how I feel when I meet a kindred spirit. And I certainly felt that when we met.

Which is why I’m writing this letter to you. As you know, I express myself better in writing. Now that we’ve taken our friendship to the next step, here are a few more things I feel you should know about me.

My migraines and my anxiety come and go. They’re as unpredictable as the foreign exchange trading market. I postpone plans. Sometimes I cancel them. I avoid crowded places. I prefer spending my night watching “The Golden Girls” in the comfort of my home over watching a movie at a crowded theatre.

With my invisible illnesses comes great unpleasantness. Sometimes my palms and feet turn numb. Sometimes I get hand cramps. Sometimes I throw up. Sometimes the pain gets so intense that I pass out. It’s one of the reasons why I wear a cap – it cushions the blow.

As much as I want to see the world, I don’t travel. I apologize if I didn’t seem too gung-ho when you were talking about your travel bucket list. It’s not you, it’s me. When you live in fear and pain, globetrotting is the last thing on your mind. I live in a bubble. I live a quiet and sheltered life. It’s important to see big things in small ways. But it’s so much more important to step outside your comfort zone, and you make me see that. Your kindness and exuberance make me believe that there’s a little spark in everyone, and that we’ve got this.

Your patience and empathy mean the world to me. I used to think that I had nothing to look forward to. But now, with companionship and acceptance, I have learned that despite life’s pitfalls, you just have to pick yourself up – and this realization alone is enough to keep me going.

Here’s to a blossoming friendship.

Your new pal,