er… but mostly downs.
[illustration by Emiliano Ponzi: http://www.emilianoponzi.com]
Every person has ups and downs. It’s a fact of life. Only Data doesn’t have to worry about these things, and he worries about not having to worry about these things.
Chronic pain is just one of many unexpected twists that can make ups and downs so much more dramatic.
There’s some sort of chemical storm, which other migraineurs have described to me as acute depression, that comes (for me) with the onset of attacks and without any other external triggers (like, no pets have died, the world is still spinning, and I don’t have my period). But it’s still damn real! Add the acute depression to the long road of grieving for lost abilities, and you’ve got a recipe for the sads.
It goes like this:
migraine attack –> low feelings (despite lollipops and sunshine) –> feeling low about inability to appreciate all the good stuff –> feeling low about how migraine has changed my life –> dwelling in loss –> more pain –> slow recovery –> repeat.
Essentially, it’s just so easy to get down on myself for being down in the first place. But despite sometimes feeling just as sad as that kitty looks, there are two handy shovels I’ve found for digging myself, at least part way, out of the pit of despair.
1) Other people with chronic pain.
They get it. All I have to do is talk to them to know I’m not nutso, that they feel it too, and sometimes that’s enough to stop the self-flagellation. Talking to these people in person is really best, but even a short internet message to share the sads can make a pretty big difference.
2) A bit of research.
It’s pretty well understood now in the medical community that chronic painers are more at risk for things like anxiety and depression, as demonstrated by studies like this, and this, and this, and this one. And perhaps not coincidentally, one of the first lines of defence in terms of daily preventative treatment is amitriptyline: an antidepressant.
It’s helpful to remind myself, as many times as it takes, that feeling low is not some sort of personal failure; it’s a part of life, and a BIG part of life with chronic pain, and sometimes this thought alone is enough to lighten the load.
What do you do, dear readers, when pain drags you down?