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To My Friends Who Have Never Experienced a Migraine

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Hey friends,

I am going to first start out by saying thank you! Thank you for the encouraging words, uplifting text messages, and for being a listening ear and shoulder to cry on. I know that watching me struggle with the daily battle of whether or not I’ll get a migraine is not easy. I could not have gotten this far without your love and support.

Now to the hard part. I watch you every time I get a life-consuming migraine (what you call a headache), and you have worry in your eyes which I cannot stand to be the source of. I want you to know that I am sorry for that. I never meant to drag you into this daily battle of mine.

I am sorry that I am so distant at times because the fun that you are having would only make my “headache” worse. I know that you cannot possibly understand, but I want to try and help you with that. Here is what it is like to live inside my head.

The day always begins with a dull ache, if I am lucky, or it can already be the pounding drum that I always seem to carry around with me. After mustering up enough strength to decide to go to class, it is medication time. After the process of getting dressed and actually making it to class, I feel the drummer beat louder. I pop some Advil or Excedrin, sometimes both in hopes that it will stop the pounding.

It’s time for lab and I realize that it’s dissection day. This is usually my favorite lab day, but I begin to cringe. I can smell the formaldehyde all the way down the hall and as I get closer my head pounds more and more. The professor thinks I have my finger under my nose because of a weak stomach, and he asks how I made it this far as a biology major with a weak stomach. What he doesn’t know is that I do not have a weak stomach. The smell is making my headache so bad that I might barf on his shoes if he doesn’t move.

I struggle through lab thinking that it is time to finally make it home to take medicine to put me to sleep because that is the only way I can cope. But then I remember I made plans with you guys, and I hate canceling.

I go home with enough time to take more Advil and rest before mustering up enough strength to get dressed. When I get there I have nothing left in me to make conversation or even focus on the conversations that are going on around me. I hear someone call my name and I have to jump out of my trance.

You ask me why I am so quiet or why I am not my normal “Cass self,” and deep down you already know the answer. I smile and say sorry and that I am fine – but in reality, I am counting how many pounds a minute there are.

We order food and you ask me why I didn’t eat more than one chicken nugget. I say I’m not hungry, but in reality I have no appetite because with every pound, I feel as though I could barf. The conversation goes on, but I cannot wait until I can get into my car where I can cry alone.

I finally make it home and now I have the choice of doing homework or taking medicine to make me sleep. But this night, homework is more important because it has been a busy week. The last few ounces of strength that I have I use to “BS” my homework and go to bed, hoping that tomorrow is better.

I want you to know these things because it absolutely breaks my heart when I am quiet, cancel on plans, or go home. It is taking everything in me to still try and be a good friend. I am sorry that I have this companion that I can never leave behind. I want you to know that the five minutes of laughter you get out of me, or the “real Cass” that shows through, is true, and I am enjoying myself.

I love spending time with you guys and I love that you still invite me when I am down, but know that sometimes I need that friend that allows me not to have to fake that I am OK. Living with this daily is hard, and I am sorry for everything that it has put you through. But, I am truly thankful for your friendship. I could not have made it this far without you. I love each one of you.


Your friend with migraines

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Originally published: March 24, 2017
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