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No alarms and no surprises, please: messages from my migraines

November 26, 2012

Life is good: I have migraines.

These are two statements you won’t often see linked. But, I’ve realised that they are in fact linked. My migraines carry an important message for me, which they will not let me ignore.

Since my childhood I’ve had migraines. Sometimes they’ve been frequent and troublesome, sometimes I’ve had long, glorious months without them. But they’ve always returned. And the in last few months I’ve had more time with migraine than without. Which was pretty stressful and horrible, particularly to begin with when I wasn’t sure if all the dizziness, confusion, weakness, trembling, tingling, brain-fades and numbness I was experiencing was migraine or not. I was terrified it was something much more sinister.

But no, it was just good ol’ migraine, stressing me out, but perhaps also keeping me safe.

I’m learning to read my migraines as messages from my mind and body. They don’t deliver subtle messages. No, they carry imperative demands like “Slow down!” or “Don’t do that, you’ll hurt yourself!”. If I try to ignore them, they go ahead and over-rule me, shutting me down despite myself – perhaps with a “classic” painful migraine, but more often by making me too weak and confused to carry on. Migraines act something like a force-field around me, forcing me to avoid stressors such as flickering and flashing lights, repetitive music and sounds, and overly stressful situations and shocks. I have to live a quiet, gently paced life, in which part-time work is preferable and adrenaline surges are to be avoided at all costs. No roller-coasters or bungee jumping for me.

But really a quiet, calm life is what I want. When migraines kick in, I think they are there to tell me that I am heading off track. Sometimes this may be that I’ve just indulged in too much chocolate, but at other times it may be that I’m letting myself get too caught up in work stresses, or trying too hard to be things that I am not. I am not loud. I am not quick. I do not enjoy being the centre of attention, being aggressive, demanding or argumentative. But that is OK – other people have those things covered – my contribution will be of far more value if it is something quite different. This is what I will aim for: an attitude of quiet, considered and contemplative calm – friendly, but in a gentle, quiet way.  This is what I need to be, and in a hectic world which seems to grow evermore demanding, aggressive and frantic, I believe it is the most valuable contribution I can offer.

If a calm, gentle, quiet life is what I need to be healthy, and to make my best contribution, then this is the life that I will pursue. And, as annoying, distressing and disruptive as they can be, I will be thankful that I sometimes have migraines because they keep me on a path which is not only the best for my health, but also the best for my soul.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. John Holden permalink
    February 9, 2013 6:52 pm

    Hi Julia!
    I was interested in your migraine blog (I got to it by way of Alice’s Bookshop website). I, too, have suffered from migraines for most of my life and I try and view them as a moderating influence. I loooove chocolate and coffee, like blue cheese, oranges (fresh) and roasted onions. All of these trigger migraines, some worse than others. Chocolate is my downfall though. It’s almost as if I’m genetically programmed to love it and find it irresistible.
    Confession time: The photo of the Sydney cat, sitting on it’s wall, lording it over everyone, is wonderful. I couldn’t resist downloading it to show friends. BUT, if you would rather I didn’t, please email me and let me know and I promise I’ll delete it.
    After reading this, would you please delete my email address from here. Thanks.
    John Holden.

    • Julia Marshall permalink*
      February 11, 2013 12:20 pm

      Hi John,
      Thanks for the feedback.
      No problem about the photo. Hope you’re migraines are not troubling you currently.

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