Making Peace with Mama Migraine
Sometimes you find love in the darndest of places.
I have a long history of migraines. It’s not something I talk about much. They have ebbed and flowed over the years, but I have had them as long as I can remember. Crippling pain and extreme nausea forcing me into a dark, quiet room to sleep it off.
In the old days pre-health career, the idea of not having some kind of painkiller with me at all times just in case a migraine hit was unthinkable. I went through Advil like candy. Migraines were a part of life and if I went a whole month without one it was notable.
When I started work in the health field, this was one of the things I tackled. Changes in diet and self-care routine, new holistic approaches to the body, and discoveries of alternative things like magnets brought them under control. Instead of multiple migraines a month, they became a rarity I’d experience a handful of times a year. This was manageable. The Advil moved out of my purse and into to the rarely-used medicine cabinet. I was even able to adopt a loftier view of my migraines as great reminders to slow down when I pushed too hard.
And then I got pregnant. Suddenly migraines were a monthly occurrence again. Hormones! we all exclaimed. And true, to some extent, the extreme hormonal changes during pregnancy will do that to you if migraines are your thing. But then Sia was born and they continued, escalated even.
I pulled out every migraine annihilation weapon I knew: diet, stretches, alignment exercises, the magnets, exact hydration, acupuncture, massage… Not only did the migraines continue, they went from monthly, to weekly, to multiple times a week. The more I tried to tackle them to the ground, the bigger and meaner they became.
Recognizing that there was more to the story than something physical,
I brought the issue to my amazing life coach. She suggested I give the migraines a persona. Who is this migraine character? What would they be like if they were a person? Expecting them to be some sort of mean bully who knocks me down every time I get up, I was utterly floored when I let the feeling of the migraines come through. Far from bully my migraine is very feminine, wise, maternal, loving, and always has my best interest at heart.
When I push too hard, Mama Migraine holds me to the bed, forcing me to take the rest and refuge I so desperately need and am too afraid to take for myself. My baby girl Sia doesn’t like to nap, and so I often lie with her, literally holding her down (gently, of course) and helping her get calm so she can relax and take that much-needed rest. Mama Migraine is no different with me. She’s just a little more forceful (but I’m also a little more stubborn…)
Now, as a mom with more than just me in the picture, a day of pure rest impacts my husband, my daughter, and everyone around me in a whole new way. Asking for this time-out is sometimes just too much for me, so Mama Migraine steps in. She sees the big picture. She’s got my back 100% of the time and makes sure I get what I need.
I have long been a believer that the disease is the cure; what it asks of you is just what you need and haven’t been giving yourself. But of course this is easier said than done. When the third migraine in a week knocks you out, forces your family to change their plans to accommodate you yet again, and sends you into bed in frustration and defeat, it’s hard to be grateful. Far from it, I wanted to take these migraines out once and for all.
But now my relationship with Mama Migraine has changed profoundly. She’s not one to fight (she wins every time anyways), she’s one to listen to – ideally before the headache. In the absence of my own mother, I can feel this Mama – and her love – at every turn. She’s always with me: not always as a migraine, but as an energy I can check in with as I make the decisions throughout my day. I can feel her love and deep care for me. I know she’s there in the background, ready to step in at a moment’s notice when I’m not able to ask for what I need for myself.
And guess what? Since changing this relationship – truly making peace with Mama Migraine and seeing how profoundly loving and important she is for me – I haven’t had a headache. For now…
Ask yourself this:
Who is your health challenge? And how is she or he supporting you?
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