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Thanks to a Migraine: A Reminder to Be Compassionate to Yourself and Others

Over the past six months months, I have started getting headaches on one side of my head that last for 2-3 days. Maybe that is technically a migraine? I don’t know.

Anyway, a headache started yesterday and I have tried a ton of things to get rid of it and nothing is helping. Today we were invited to go to a museum with friends and I had to decide if I had enough spoons (basically, a way to gauge how much capacity you have to do something) to get through a trip on public transit and then hours at a crowded museum- both things that cause severe panic attacks for me. I really wanted to go with our friends and my husband and son, and normally I would do it, knowing that the trip might make me function at half-capacity tomorrow and maybe Monday. But, this headache takes away too many of my spoons! For example, during a panic attack your heart races, which makes the headache worse and I feel like my brain will explode! I could not manage the panic and the pain on a crowded San Francisco train or the loud voices in a museum making the headache worse while panicking due to being in a crowded place.

My sudden development of headaches has reminded me of two things:

  1. I probably should not be so hard on myself! I have learned many ways to cope with my chronic illnesses of multiple mental illnesses and IBS (Irritable Bowl Syndrome) pretty well. A lot of times I judge myself harshly because things are hard for me to do, but I forget that I have learned to cope well enough that I can still do many of the things I want to do even in the midst of my other illnesses. It is what people with chronic illness do.

  2. We cannot judge someone else’s illness. I have friends with migraines and just looking at them, I knew they were in immense pain and yet they still were taking their kids to school, going to work, taking care of sick parents, etc… However, I hear many people make fun of or downplay people with recurring headaches or migraines as if they are just trying to “get away” with doing less or that they just like to complain. We can’t judge another person’s pain and we don’t get to say what they should or should not be able to do because of it. I could tell migraines were bad for my friends but until now, I had no way to fathom just how completely debilitating they are.

So, hugs to all of you who are struggling with any illness. Surround yourself with people who seek to understand rather than seek to judge. May we all remember to have compassion for ourselves and others.


Rev. Katie

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