I’ve been fighting the pain of chronic migraines for years. I’ve become a master at dealing with the debilitating side effects that go along with these crippling headaches: lack of appetite, insomnia, mood swingsdon’t even get me started on all the plans I’ve canceled last-minute. But through all of this discomfort, and yes even fear, I’ve also uncovered parts of my character I didn’t know existed and learned valuable life lessons that I apply daily: migraine or no migraine.

FWIW, in the beginning, I fixated on everything I didn’t like about my migraines (because, duh, chronic headaches suck).

It took a freshman year positive psychology class for me to realize that I could find a silver lining about anything–even my migraines. What started as simple homework assignments to journal and compile gratitude lists became a daily practice. Believe it or not (it probably sounds crazy), I’ve grown to be thankful for my migraines. With this new perspective, I’ve managed to learn vital lessons that I would have missed otherwise. Here are just a few of them.

Believe people when they say they’re in pain.

My mom has experienced neuropathy–nerve damage that causes weakness, numbness, and pain in her legs and feet–since she underwent chemo as part of her breast cancer treatment. Even though she’s been in remission for years, she still deals with it. I’m embarrassed to admit that it took understanding my migraines to truly empathize with her (and others’) pain.

My migraines increased while my mom was receiving treatment. I was grappling with a lot–I didn’t have the emotional capacity to understand the new world of pain my mom was entering. On the surface, she looked okay(ish), despite her telling me about what she was encountering. And I cringe to say, I treated her like she was fully healthy, even when she was majorly struggling.


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