Friday, September 28, 2012

Speaking Up

This is where I come to vent about my migraines. If I didn't spout it all off here, I might never stop talking about it in real life. I like to talk things out as a coping mechanism, which is great for most interpersonal conflicts and temporary problems, but for a chronic, long-term illness, complaining to everyone all the time is just not the way to go.

So, I suffer in silence a lot, because I prefer to. Friends and family may ask, but I usually give them a short or noncommittal answers. Nothing's really changed and unless a person has a legitimate question or concern, I don't want to chit-chat about it.

But, there are times when I've had to speak up, and when that happens, I tend to be blunt. Who has the energy for subtlety? For example:

There's a person who constantly asks me what medications I'm taking, who can't seem to talk to me about anything BUT migraines every time I see her. So, every time I see her, I tell her that I don't want to talk about my head, it's exhausting and stressful and I'm trying to enjoy my time out of the house. Her reaction is usually not good (though we've been doing this for years now, you'd think she'd learn?), and I have to repeat myself several times per occasion.

There's another person who makes jokes at my expense, because I'm just so weird now that I'm sensitive to every stimulus ever. Last time he did it, I pointed out that he was being cruel (would he say the same things to a person who'd lost a leg or who'd gone blind?), and he got his feelings hurt and hasn't talked to me for months. That one's a win-win, really.

My school counselors, who are STILL giving me the runaround over captioning video and audio content, they've gotten my Professional Tone unleashed upon their emails. I worked in customer service for years before I got sick, and I can still pull out some frighteningly articulate smack-down language when I try real hard. I don't know that it'll get me anywhere (these people, what do they do all day if they aren't actually helping disabled students?), but at least I've spoken my mind and it's on file somewhere that I'm tired of their crap.

Then, there's my neighbor, who shows up at my house unannounced looking for my boyfriend, then starts chatting my ear off instead. I give him the old, "I'm not feeling well, you'll have to talk to [boyfriend], sorry." Then, I walk away and close the front door. Last time I left him in our front yard, he continued to talk to himself for a minute, not realizing I'd gone (even though I spoke perfectly clearly and closed the door not-quietly), but that was weeks ago and he hasn't done it since, so maybe he finally gets it.

Having chronic migraines has helped me get over my lifetime need to be liked and I've finally learned to stick up for myself without feeling guilty for it. Speaking up isn't easy, and I still get stomach butterflies of anxiety every single time I have to confront pretty much anyone over anything, but I do it anyway, because while it may not feel great to say negative things to another person, it's infinitely more uncomfortable to swallow my frustrations day after day.


Migrainista said...

Ha ha! Love that he kept talking even after you left. Good for you, for standing up - I think it's really hard to do as well but you're right about it being better than suffering.

WinnyNinny PooPoo said...

Unfortunately for me, I get ENERGIZED taking on someone, a negative aspect of my personality I have tried to channel for the greater good! Ha!! I had to fight the college I was going for my masters at when The Headache broke out. The head of disability was GREAT but most of the professors were true jerks with one telling me "he had headaches and he didn't have trouble with getting to class or the lighting" I finally gave up and withdrew, I was so ill at the time it was not worth my energy. But it still burns me up years later. I did uncork myself upon this jerk, and I think the head of disabilities found it quite amusing because I can have someone's pelt pegged, tanned and made into shoes before they figure out they've been skinned. There is a lot of politics at colleges. sigh.

Katharine Hope said...

I can really relate to this. I have trouble with neighbors at times, but when I do feel good I pay attention to them. The rest of the time, I just say got a migraine or not feeling well. Or my body language must let them know I don't want to talk. It used to cause me so much angst. It is really hard to speak up.