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When Migraines Are Companions to Anxiety and Depression

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“I have a migraine.” A simple statement can have so many different meanings. For one person it’s a sharp, searing pain, and for another it’s seeing squiggly lines in his or her line of sight. Others may not be able to talk properly because the tongue freezes up and while their brain sees the word “top,” their mouth says, “pot.” 

Migraines are as unique as the fingerprints of each individual. Despite the uniqueness, one thing migraines do have in common is that they can debilitate. Sunlight or artificial lights stab your skull. Sounds bombard your eardrums. Aromas overpower the senses. Nausea rolls over you. The thought of dying might sound like the best way to escape the mighty migraine’s wrath. But no, migraine sufferers don’t really want to die. We just wish we didn’t have to feel pain anymore.

If the migraine itself wasn’t rough enough, you look “fine.” While some people randomly get migraines, others fight unseen battles every day. Outsiders can’t see the massive headache. My son eloquently explained this to my ex, “Of course it’s in her head. It’s called a migraine.” Bless his heart, but it’s true. I look “fine,” but I’m disabled. While misunderstanding individuals accuse and claim I’m probably faking it, it’s my scary monster in the closet, and it has friends. It’s bad enough just having a migraine, but depression and anxiety are constant companions. Depression sucks the will to get up and fight another day. Anxiety tells me my pain will spike if I try to do anything besides hiding out in the dark abyss of my room. Depression digs in again with how I’m so pathetic and weak; that if I were stronger, I’d be fine and able to handle life while having a migraine.

The truth is I really am strong and far stronger than anyone else conceives. I haven’t given up; I’ve come extremely close, but I won’t let myself give in. I dig my feet in and choose to live and fight another day, even if the day is riddled with pain. That’s what you call true strength — even when there’s no hope of a reprieve from the incessant bombarding on your brain, you still get back up, surviving life second by second at times.

I think the hardest part about having migraines is feeling like you’re utterly alone and at the same time wanting to be utterly alone. You may feel like nobody can help you fight the demons, and few understand what you’re dealing with every day. But maybe bringing more awareness to what we go through, along with finding others who have migraines, will help defeat those feelings. The last thing on earth I want is to be a burden to a loved one. Regardless of how much they love me, when I am having an attack, I don’t want to bring others down with me. Seeing me helpless and in such pain cannot be easy to endure day in and day out. This is why I want to be alone — I don’t want them to hurt more by seeing me that way. It’s complicated, but I’ve found that by bonding with other migraine sufferers, I don’t feel so alone and overpowered. Creating a support system is desperately needed because there’s someone else who actually gets what you’re going through. It’s proof you can keeping pushing because someone else is fighting and making it through another day, too. I wouldn’t wish a migraine on my worst enemy, but I’m glad I have friends who understand my struggles. I am empowered through the friendships forged in our common struggle to get through each day.

To anyone else going through this: You’re not alone. Please don’t give up. Keep trying to breathe through each second. Seek out other people with migraines because there is strength in numbers. If it hadn’t been for one of my migraine friends, I might not be here today because she talked to me and helped me to focus on those who still needed me, even the broken version of me. Finally, I want to say it’s OK to cry, even though the migraine might intensify — you need to let the emotions out.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. 

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images

Originally published: July 7, 2016
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