Friday, August 17, 2012

Beyond Survival

I went to Baltimore in July this year. But it gets better. I went with my daughter...and I had the chance to meet up with another member of CMA (Chronic Migraine Awareness - NOTE: we need a link to something here!!)).

We were there to have our first out-of-state event in an attempt to bring Awareness of our condition to as many people of we could. Our mission was a success, but I also got something that I didn't count on...  Something that I thought I lost... Me! I found a little bit of myself that I didn't remember I had.

And it didn't stop there, because I also found out that I actually like my children.

Saying that I like my children may sound like a horrible thing.  How could someone not like their own kids???? I love them; I would give my life for them.  I am dedicating my life right now, in part, to making sure that my daughter (and my son, though, fortunately, it appears he isn't "blessed" with migraine) is not left with this legacy of pain. I love them, but sometimes, when I am feeling at my worst, it really isn't easy to LIKE them. It isn't easy to LIKE anyone...or anything. I realized that not liking my children was yet another part of my disease. A part that I can't imagine ANYONE being happy with. That I can't imagine anyone could possible like.

I realized that my body was telling me that I needed to be selfish in order to heal...but...

Nature is so smart.  It makes sure that we know what we have to, in order to survive.  The most essential of those things is the will to live.   If exposed to extremely cold temperatures, a body will consolidate and make sure to protect the trunk of the body and all its vital organs (this actually shows up for people with migraine as the co-morbid problem of Raynaud's Syndrome or Phenomenon). Fingers get cold. Even frostbite can ensue, all because of how one's body deals with "life." Things like arms and legs are just a luxury as far as Nature is concerned.  

It dawned on me that the same thing happens to us mentally.  When things become too overwhelming for us mentally, we shut down, find ways to cope, do what we need to maintain our sanity.  All of this is in order to survive.

Survival is a selfish thing.  It doesn't care if you have someone that you need to take care of or that you have any responsibilities.  All it cares about is having you continue on.  So like a good electrician, when there is too much power being drawn from the power source, things have to be shut down.  It is Survival Mode.  The thing is, the Survival Instinct doesn't send out notices; it acts unilaterally from the wants of the rest of the body, especially the psyche.  We know that there are bills to be paid, laundry to be done, errands to run, and, of course, family.  This is one of those things that draws a lot of power. What does the electric company do? They reduce the load, shut down systems. There are rolling brown outs.   That is what this disease does to our bodies.  It tries to share the load.  There is only so much energy to go around.

Relationships are a lot of work; it doesn't matter who it is with.  Nature knows this. It keeps us isolated in order to preserve energy. It shuts down our ability to communicate. It closes off our get-up-and-go...and our ability to do anything. We no longer have the ability to do anything, since all of our energy is focused on our ability to simply exist. To breathe. The only thing the disease can't reach is our mind.  

Nature really doesn't have to do anything when it comes to the mind.  We do that on our own.  We feel guilt for things we aren't doing. If we had something more visual - like polio - we wouldn't put the pressures we do on ourselves.  Unfortunately, this is, in part, because so few people actually recognize the fact that we hurt. That we are disabled. We push through the pain; we push through past the point that even nature says is acceptable, but that isn't enough because it doesn't match what we used to do when we "had a life," when we were doing more than just hanging on to what life was.

Let yourself off the hook!  There are things you can control; there are things you can't. We can't control what the disease does to our bodies, but we can chose not to let it win.  Nature has its own agenda. You have the will to live. What you do with it is up to you. If you want to survive emotionally and physically be like nature and find a way!!

"Do not go gently into that good night"

My next trip will be to Houston, Texas to meet with Dr. Chapman and the people at Advanced Migraine.  I didn't know life could be like this again.  Stay tuned to see what come up next

Be sure to check out our website.  We will be updating it often and now will be offering live chat on Wed nights.