Missing Life’s Important Events Due to Migraines?
Do you cancel plans, miss family events, or call out sick to work because of migraines? Are you tired of missing life’s events? I have spoken with hundreds of migraine sufferers. Every single one said at least one of the following to me: I have had to cancel plans with family and friends; I leave work early; I call out sick to work; I cancel appointments; I can’t keep commitments; I can’t make it to dinner tonight; I cancel girls night out; I cancel at the last minute, I’m constantly apologizing for rescheduling appointments. All due to migraine.
All these cancellations leave migraineurs feeling unreliable and guilty for letting others down. As if being stuck at home with a skull crushing migraine weren’t enough.
Sadly, those closest to you, the ones you love and trust, friends, family and coworkers don’t get it. Living a migraine life that’s so far from normal with daily pain that’s debilitating is frustrating. Every time you cancel plans they look at you funny, in disbelief as you miss another important event.
What’s Worse Than Missing Life’s Events?
What is worse: The pain you experience from a migraine or the damage you do to your reputation by not showing up to important events or work? Let’s be honest, suffering with a migraine is only a part of the problem.
In addition to the gut wrenching, brain-bending experience of a migraine, missing the event or work is only another piece of the puzzle. To compound matters, friends, family and co-workers may be forming unjust opinions of you for not being there for them, again. Frankly, most feel you have let them down one too many times. As a result you have been labeled as unreliable or much worse. Fair or unfair. Right or wrong. This is the plight of the migraineur.
How to Solve the Unsolvable?
Migraine is more than a headache, more than a disease. It impacts every aspect of a migraineurs life: Work, income, family, relationships, hobbies, individualism, belonging, security, freedom, reliability and more. As all of these critical components of ones core are disrupted a migraineur must constantly evaluate and reevaluate all areas of their lifestyle to improve their situation. A migraine sufferer must be willing to sacrifice anything to find a sense of normalcy and / or stability.
Foods are easy to eliminate. Water is effortless to drink. Lights are simple to turn off. Sunglasses are painless to wear. Alcohol is avoidable. Loud noises are controllable. Smells containable. People are a problem. You cannot change people. You can only change yourself. Which leaves you with one option to improve your migraine situation if you want to stop missing events, canceling plans and skipping work: Change your relationship and perspective of migraines.
Change your relationship with migraines.
Migraines As Salvation
How far would you be willing to go to restore your reputation at work? To get your career back on track and elevate your earnings back to where they should be? To be there for your friends, family and coworkers? To be present for the most important moments of your life?
The good news is you do not have to go far. Everything you want is right in front of you. To be present for your friends, family, events and career while suffering with migraines is the solution. The solution is living, Through Migraine™. It is through migraines that pain can be blocked, relationships can be strengthened, and work can be a source of relief. Migraines are your salvation to migraines. Sounds backwards? Here is how it works:
I have repositioned my relationship with my migraines to use them as a catalyst to be productive, achieve my goals, and succeed in my career. I do this by engaging with the world around me and staying active during migraines to keep my migraines out of focus. Ironically, it is migraines that have forged me into the productive and reliable person I am today.
I prefer to operate with compromised vision, slurred speech, extreme pain, numbness and discomfort at 20%, 50%, or 70% of my capabilities than not at all.
After 40+ years of battling extreme migraine experiences, I have learned that it is through migraines that migraines cease to punish and inflict pain and thereby rob the migraineur of all that is most dear: family, kids, and friends, work, big life events, and being there when it matters most.
Being present during a migraine minimizes migraines, as painful and counterintuitive as it sounds. This is supported by science and, most likely, your personal experience as well, which I will discuss further below.
The Only Way Out of a Migraine is Through Migraine
Migraines, like any other discomfort (physical or emotional), are most impactful when they receive attention from the host, excluding the extreme end of the spectrum. The less attention you pay to a migraine, the less discomfort a migraine inflicts on the migraineur.
Let me give you an example that most migraineurs are likely familiar with:
Have you ever had a blistering migraine that enveloped your soul in a shroud of pain that kept you from thinking straight? The pulsating and throbbing were rhythmic beats of pain, which rang outside of your head. Your sense of smell, hearing, and light were overrun in a flash. You felt like you could not do anything at all. You just couldn’t.
Yet, you had no choice but to: Pick up your children from school or make them a meal or drive yourself home in the pouring rain when it was near impossible to see. Or attend a meeting with the president of the company or an important client. You had to be available. You had to get it done.
And you did it.
Why were you able to push through that one awful migraine when you had no other choice in that circumstance?
Because you were the only lifeline for your children or you had no other way to get home or you would lose your job. Lives depended on you.
In those moments your focus was deep and intense on the task that needed your attention that day, at all costs – migraine be damned.
If you think back, in the thick of the moment, you felt significantly less pain when you stepped up to get the job done. The migraine was not gone. It was lurking in the back of your mind. But in the moment when you had to rise up, your symptoms diminished and fell out of front and center while you did what you needed to do.
This is a diversion of focus.
You distracted your mind away from the pain and into a task.
Why not live this way everyday?
Why not commit so deeply to your life, loved ones, and career? Be whom you want to be, get back all that migraines have taken from you and live everyday like you absolutely have to?
What it takes is a shift in mindset that everyday, every minute matters as if your life depends on it, because it does. You only have one life to live, you have to make it count. All you need are the tools to learn how and where to focus when you have a migraine. This takes deliberate practice. But anyone can do it.
The practice is the easy part. The commitment to yourself in the face of debilitating pain and conquering fear that no migraine, no matter how crippling, until they are dragging you to the hospital (figuratively, of course, you need to find your line,) will stop you from living your life. That is the hard part. You have to decide that you are going to wrestle your life back from your migraines. Take control and win the day, everyday. It is challenging, but worth it.
No more missed events; no more canceling plans with friends and family; no leaving work early or calling out sick.
You need all aspects of your life to continue in order to defeat migraines.
Let me explain…
The Power of Diversion
I prefer an alternative approach to managing my migraines, no matter how devastating the symptoms or pain. I exploit my migraines by staying engaged with my work, reading, learning, hobbies, speaking to people, having meetings, going out for coffee (I quit drinking alcohol more than 8 years ago because of migraines), enjoying the holidays, and any other event I attend. My head may hurt like hell and my system may be trying to sabotage me but that is my life, I accept it. I rarely ever spoke of migraines until I started this project.
Instead of migraines forcing us to cancel plans, miss life events, leave work early, or call out of work altogether, migraines should be used as a catalyst to be more present with our friends and family, to be more productive at home, work, and school. This is done through diversion.
After 40 years of battling migraines, I have discovered the migraines’ weakness is diversion.
Distraction is a Powerful Technique
Here is an example of the distraction technique you can relate to:
A baby is having a good time at grandma’s house. It is time to leave. The baby does not want to leave a good time so she starts to cry.
Parents don’t like crying babies. Parents exist to stop crying. On the way out of grandma’s house, mom or dad hand baby her favorite stuffed animal. The baby stops crying.
Why? She is distracted by her favorite; cute fuzzy little bear that makes her feel happy, safe and secure. The stuffed animal has distracted her from whatever made her feel so good about grandmas.
Grandma’s house is long forgotten, 12 seconds ago.
Success: Baby’s attention is now on the stuffed animal. No more crying. Distraction!
Pain is as easily distracted.
Diversion Methods are Proven in Science
Humans are not good at multitasking. The design of our brains is to focus on one thing at a time. This includes the most intense pain.
A scientific study at the McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada centered their research on how attention and emotion influence pain. The article they published confirms: “A number of reports show that pain is perceived as less intense when individuals are distracted from the pain (e.g. Bushnell et al., 1999; Levine et al., 1982; Miron et al., 1989; Rode et al., 2001). In many studies, distraction is achieved by requiring the subject to attend to another sensory modality, such as a visual, auditory, or tactile stimulus.”
Big takeaway: Watching, listening or touching anything while in pain redirects focus away from pain, thus minimizing the pain you are experiencing.
How To Block Migraine Pain
With this research in mind it is evident that distracting a migraine is achievable. By engaging in work, conversations, hobbies, reading, learning or focusing on any task, no matter how small, you will experience a decrease in perceived pain during a migraine.
To block migraine pain requires a commitment. A commitment to respond to migraines with action. It is imperative to avoid long standing habitual responses of retreating to dark rooms or commiserating about migraines; both of which force migraines to the front of mind. Focusing on an event or task will drive the migraine out of focus and into the back of the mind.
The place to begin is by using migraine pain to bring us the very things that migraines have taken from us: Our relationships, social life, jobs, reliability, and predictability – living! Recognize pain is the path to freedom. Remember that when pain is present that is the time to stay engaged with whatever activity or plans you have scheduled. Stay the course and remain present with your day no matter how ill you are feeling.
Every event or task, no matter how small is an opportunity to focus on anything other than your migraine. The very things you wish to have: important events, friends, family, social gatherings, work, hobbies, presence with loved ones are all the things to engage with when your migraines are their worst. Menial tasks such as organizing a desk, sweeping the floor or cleaning a kitchen are effective too. So is wrapping a string around your finger. Anything you can focus on that puts your migraine out of focus and distracts your mind from a migraine is a winning solution.
Stop cancelling plans with friends and family. Go to work. Stay at work. Keep your appointments. Do what is necessary around your house. Do what interests you. At 70%, 50%, 30% of the best of you. Everyone you know will be glad to have you no matter your condition. At the same time, your migraine will fall into the back of your mind, out of sight, with diminishing impact on you. The more you practice diversion methods, the better you will get at it. Never stop moving. Movement and activity is the migraines archenemy.
Get Back To Work and Start Enjoying Your Friends and Family Again
There is no cure for migraines and you will not find one here.
Through Migraine focuses on using diversion methodologies. A clear set of positive active process responses to migraines. Versus embedded reactive habitual response sets. Once embraced, diversion methods lead to living a more productive and fulfilling life.
There are two ways to approach a life with migraines:
- Give in to the disease. Let it consume you. Let it control you. Believe you can’t and let your life slip away.
- Fight for your life. Do everything you can to live, for those that rely on you and love you. Not in spite of migraines; Because of migraines.
If you fall into category #2 and are willing to do whatever it takes to live with migraine and are tired of:
- Missing important events
- Canceling plans with friends and family
- Leaving work early or not showing up at all
Than Through Migraine is for you. I’d like to invite you to sign up for the Through Migraine mailing list. Here you will receive exclusive content, offers, and updates on Through Migraine methodologies that will change your life and relationship with migraines.
Either way, health be with you.
Never Stop Moving…