Joan Didion Says it Best (About Migraines)

I spent most of the last two days in bed, with a migraine. Again. I start to feel like a broken record, as I “go dark” for these migraine days. But today feels like a fresh start, a new beginning, as it always feels when a migraine comes full circle and I get that post-migraine high.

I can’t remember how, but I must have been googling “migraine stories” and I stumbled upon Joan Didion’s essay “In Bed” about her experience with migraine. The first time I read it, I felt so much comfort to know that I am not the only one. Everything she says hits the nail on the head and I think to myself “Yes, Yes! That’s exactly it!”

I notice that I have a lot of shame around my migraines and I am working on that. When I keep coming back to a story like this though, I start to lose a little bit of that shame – little by little – every time. It’s like it’s not so bad to not be perfect.

“And once it comes, now that I am wise in its ways, I no longer fight it. I lie down and let it happen. At first every small apprehension is magnified, every anxiety a pounding terror. Then the pain comes, and I concentrate only on that. Right there is the usefulness of migraine, there in that imposed yoga, the concentration on the pain. For when the pain recedes, ten or twelve hours later, everything goes with it, all the hidden resentments, all the vain anxieties. The migraine has acted as a circuit breaker, and the fuses have emerged intact. There is a pleasant convalescent euphoria. I open the windows and feel the air, eat gratefully, sleep well. I notice the particular nature of a flower in a glass on the stair landing. I count my blessings.”

And she’s absolutely right. Today the ice and bitter cold don’t seem to matter. I am grateful to breathe in the crisp air and drive my car through mucky snow tracks and put on layer upon layer before leaving the house. Because I feel like I have come home in my body and I want to be grateful and aware of each experience and sensation and feeling as much as I possibly can.

To read Joan Didion’s full essay click this link.

winter

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