When Your Illness Makes You Forget Valentine's Day


For Valentine’s Day this year my partner and I forgot Valentine’s Day. By this I mean that we didn’t buy each other cards or gifts, we didn’t go out to eat, and in no way did we do anything significant to celebrate Valentine’s Day – but please don’t be fooled, we love each other dearly.

Instead, Valentine’s Day looked like this: me crying on the sofa, cocooned in a soft warm throw, my partner sat beside me, arms around me allowing my tears to soak into his shoulder, as he has done countless times before. I am so grateful for that. I had been ill all week with my worst flare-up in a long time and my partner was holding down a full-time job, being both mummy and daddy to our baby boy whilst simultaneously worrying about my current state of health. We both left buying cards and presents until the last minute and this flare up meant that went out of the window as we were back in survival mode.

I was crying because I had been ill all week with a flare-up of chronic vestibular migraines and was feeling hopeless about the future once again. I was crying because I missed being a fully present mummy to my baby boy all week because I was lying in bed, waiting for the wave to pass. I was crying because I returned to work from maternity leave only three weeks ago and I was already taking off sick time and didn’t want this to be my life, I didn’t want to stop my life like this again.

I’m fully aware always that this vestibular migraine condition isn’t the worse of all illnesses. Not that it’s a competition, yet when in the thick of it is debilitates me, my life stops and depression hits. I feel woozy, nauseous, the world moves around me, exhaustion hits hard and my head is so foggy I can barely have a conversation. I feel guilty because I know there are others much worse off and yet I know the impact this can have on my little family in many little heart-breaking ways. I feel guilty for making this condition part of my partner’s life too, for rarely traveling to see friends the last few years, for being moody with my own mother who doesn’t really understand what is happening to me.

So back to the sofa crying on Valentine’s Day, where we forgot to buy each other cards or gifts. After a pep talk from my partner he said we really did need to eat something as it was getting late. So, he went around the corner to our local fish and chip shop and brought us back a large cod and chips to share. As we sat there eating our take-away meal wrapped in newspaper on Valentines Day, I thought to myself that this feels like pretty real love and a pretty real Valentine’s Day. Since I became ill, he tells me time and time again, “in sickness and in health.” We haven’t said those vows to each other yet in our wedding, but we’re living them. No one sees these moments of love, lived out in the detail of all of our lives – but man do they matter.

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