Wednesday, August 4, 2010

How I Cope on A Bad Day

When I saw that the theme of this month's Migraine Blog Carnival (hosted by the ever-lovely Diana at Somebody Heal Me) is "How do you cope with your headache disorder?" I was all, I totally know this one! I write about coping quite a bit. In fact, as of this moment, dealing is my most frequently used tag. I write about it so much, I focus so much of my energy on handling myself, my migraines, and my life, that I can sometimes lose the forest for all the trees. So now's a great time to revisit the subject. How do I cope? Well, it really depends on the day.

On Good Days, I don't even think about it anymore. Avoiding major triggers is habit by now and coping with low levels of migraine activity is second nature. My primary focus on Good Days is keeping my stress low, second is getting stuff done and third is having a good time. (Those last two might be switched.) So, I make quiet plans with friends and family, I do household chores as I feel capable and devote time to productive hobbies, like sewing (which I am getting better at!), writing and photography. Ergo, when I'm talking about coping, it's not the Good Days I'm really talking about. It's not the Good Days that I struggle with.

And I really have two types of Bad Days. On my (Good)Bad Days I am strong and flexible, and bend in the wind without breaking. I take care of myself easily, I ice and medicate, distract myself with silliness and forgive myself for my weaknesses. On my (Bad)Bad Days I am brittle like old glass, and am prone to shattering everywhere, cutting anyone who comes near. I give up, wish for death, slip into depression and blame myself for everything, everything, everything that has gone wrong.

On the (Good)Bad Days I hurt, but I've still got my wits about me. I am slow and careful and do my best to avoid antagonizing the beast by keeping it dim and quiet. I try not to bend, reach, or lift. I take a hot shower, request a foot rub, medicate regularly and responsibly, and eat and drink well. Watching funny tv or playing puzzle games keeps my mind from dwelling on the negative. Regular, gentle stretches keep my body from stiffening from the stress of pain and a little productivity, like replacing a button or feeding the dog, can go a long way to improving a darkening mood.

But when the mood is already dark, when I'm being held hostage by pain and despair and can't find my way out, it's my loved ones who pull me back out. My boyfriend, my friends, my family, my brother. My boyfriend is there, in the trenches with me, getting dirty. He is my strength on those (Bad)(Bad)Bad Days. He feeds me and holds me and keeps me from self-destructing all over myself. My friends and family, I don't usually ask them for help, literally (though I often wonder how someone goes about doing that). It's more the thought of people who love me and know me, who accept me and don't judge me, who encourage and comfort. I look at pictures, I remember Good Days. And, most importantly, I remind myself of the consequences of giving up. How many people it would damage, how they would carry that pain forever and would never be able to think of me without feeling that horrible hurt. My brother. I would live the rest of my life in torment gladly if he would never know pain. I could never leave him. On my bad days, it's about survival. And sometimes I have to guilt myself into it.

I've been here three years. Not long, really. But my previous life seems like a dream. Was I really so wild? So energetic and free? I was spontaneity and intensity. I think. It's all so hazy now. Maybe I've idealized it, how easy and fun everything was. But it does no good to dwell, either way. Maybe I'll get it back, or maybe my life will continue down this difficult path. Everything changes, for better or for worse.

Mostly, I think I cope by recognizing the truths; I have pain, but I have love and a roof and I can still laugh, just quietly.


WinnyNinny PooPoo said...

[quietly] a wonderful post! you write poetry in prose or is it use prose to write poetry? wish your old life was back too. [/quietly]