A couple of years back, I conducted an online survey for people with migraine and their caretakers/partners about managing relationships with migraine in the picture. I learned two things from this survey. The first is that I actually have no idea how to compile and meaningfully interpret the data I collected (I’ll work on that some day). The second is that migraine really puts all relationships to the test, and many people out there are living with partners who blame them for their pain and loss of abilities. As unhealthy and abusive as this may be, some feel/are stuck in these relationships because they are dependent on their partner as their sole caretaker or breadwinner.
This probably shouldn’t have been a surprise, but it was an important reminder of how lucky I am, and how infinitely important it is that people with migraine never stop seeking the support they need.
Dear people with migraine,
You probably need a bit more logistical and emotional support than the average person. You might be partially or totally financially dependent. You might not be able to make plans and keep them. You might have a trillion food restrictions. You might need to go to bed at 9p.m. every night, and you might shy away from anything loud, bright, or stinky. You may be frustrated by having to face ignorance, dismissal, and stereotypes about your condition. You might also be struggling with depression, anxiety, gut troubles, or any other number of “co-morbid” conditions. You might need to cry on a shoulder pretty often. You might not be even be able to enjoy the types of activities you imagine are essential to a romantic relationship.
So why should someone go the extra mile to love you, a person who will surely challenge their capacity to be flexible and compassionate?
Because you’ve been to hell and back, multiple times, and have lived not only to tell the tale, but lived to see the beauty and good in the world despite nonsensical, intractable pain. [And, actually, that’s enough, but just in case you’re not convinced…]
Because meaningful companionship is more important than loud, bright, stinky activities.
Because you likely recognize, more every day, how to see pain in others, and how to make space in your heart to offer support without filling the silence to offer a million non-solutions.
Because you have learned not to take your body for granted. You have learned/ are learning how to cherish every little ability you possess, and work hard to make the most of it.
Because you have already learned lots about how to deal with changing/limited abilities, and can probably show your partner a thing or two about aging gracefully.
Because while you might not be able to keep a date, you will be there for your loved ones other ways that are even more valuable.
Because, in the end, migraine is just one variable in a sea of variables, and migraine will actually help prepare you for whatever other tests the universe cares to throw your way.
Because while you may sometimes be physically weak, the fact that you continue to simply by try your best, every day, is evidence of immense strength.
Because the pain is not your fault.
Because you’re worth it.