Sunday, August 4, 2013

Diversions, Entertainment, and Preoccupations

Self-distraction is the most surprising and valuable survival skill I've developed from dealing with 24/7 migraines.

My favorite, but least used form of distraction is reading. I can't remember not being able to read. I learned at a very young age, and used to compulsively read everything in my sight. Actually, I still do that. But since migraines, my eyes ache when I read for long periods, and I often have trouble focusing on what I'm reading. Because I have to do a fair amount of academic reading for my classes, I've been gravitating towards lighter literary fare and have been relishing the opportunity to read the Sookie Stackhouse books. They are some awesome, fluffy fun.

When my brain won't let me read, but I'm not quite willing to go totally inert in front of the tube, I play me some thinking games! Puzzle, room escape, hidden object, word games, adventure, anything that involves exercising my brain and I'll love it. I play online, free, usually at

Of course, I spend quite a bit of time without the capability of thinking, and then I turn to tv and movies. I'm still watching TNG, on season 4 now, and on some recent bad days I binge-watched Orange is the New Black and Orphan Black, which are my favorite new shows and I want more episodes now. It's odd that they both start with O and end with Black, makes my brain skip a beat whenever I look at the titles together.

When I'm capable of physical exertion despite my head, I've found therapeutic benefits in cleaning. Our kitchen is full of shelves of boxes and stuff to be sorted from my boyfriend's mom, and I've finally turned back to it this week. I've organized the kitchen stuff and seriously purged my sewing stash, which has been inaccessible since we brought all this crap home. It's still cluttered in there, but I'm finally making progress again, and seeing the results puts my brain in a much happier place. I may go very slowly on this project, but I'll get there.

Clearing out my sewing stash has inspired me to create a few scarves out of old shirts and I even did a little dyeing to save some items from the bin. These were some easy-peasy crafts, fun, not requiring much brain-power or physical exertion and the result of having something new to wear or use at the end of it is such a happy bonus. And even if it doesn't work out, the dye doesn't take or I botched the sewing big time, I get to add it to my out-going donations pile, which is also extremely satisfying.

Other excellent sources of distraction are our sweet, funny puppies. Having another dog in the house has been a challenge but such a joy. Both dogs have social issues, so it's taking them longer than I expected for them to get used to each other, but after more than two months together, they've finally started playing. Not often, and they both still freak each other out sometimes, but when they get the hang of it and start chasing each other around, my smile goes so wide my head might just snap in half. In a good way.

It's been a rough month for me, and I remember musing last summer that perhaps I get the opposite of SAD, because my bouts of depression in the summertime are intense, and much harder to get over than the piddly sad days of winter. This summer's been tough, but I'm muddling through, and I owe many, many days of survival to my above list of distractions. If it was just me and my head, I can't imagine how I would stay sane.


Anonymous said...

Hi, I used to follow your blog years ago but lost touch. I am catching up. I so much admire your writing; it is excellent. Your posts would make a great book, resource for others. Wanted to let you know that there is a summer version of SAD. It's much rarer than the "winter blues" SAD. So many thanks to you for your blog. It's been a life saver to me. (@infiniteknot)

steph said...

Thank you so much, I love connecting with other people with migraines, and it's really wonderful to hear that I've helped you with my ramblings! <3 I don't write here nearly as much as I used to, so if you want to connect somewhere else, let's! I'm going to follow you on twitter, I hope that's ok. :)

And I did not know there was a summer version of SAD, but it would definitely makes sense, especially for people like us who may be light and heat sensitive.