Migraine Awareness Month #1: Phantom of the Opera:

Phantom of the Opera: What do you hide behind your Migraine/Headache Disorders mask? What do you let people see?

I hide a great deal behind that Facade of Well-being. That laughing mask I like to wear. I have daily migraines, persistent migraine auras and migraine associated vertigo ... so my reality is constantly under assault. Every minute I'm trying to pay attention to someone I'm trying to think through that haze of pain and trying to ignore that sense of pulling movement around me and trying to see through the pulsing and flicking in the air. Not to mention if I am outside my home environment it is always far to bright and harsh which makes the visual distortions far more vibrant. At times I can be in surroundings where it is so noisy I have trouble understanding the person in front of me, assuming I'm not having a day where I'm not having trouble anyway. Every perception and sense, even my ability to communicate, and the enviroment itself, works against me... and yet I have to somehow come of as a functioning person. And I do most of the time. Or at least I can.

And being that Mask I wear is someone struggling to survive. Who isn't okay with this level of pain on a daily basis. Who struggles with the concept of existing like this for another decade let alone four. Who can't even think about that without my thoughts turning dark and so chooses to never think beyond This day of pain that I must get through. It is in fact a struggle to survive. I know this for a fact because at one time I chose not to survive and so I see it now as something I must take very seriously. That although I can do nothing about the primary pain itself (or at least with chronic migraines I am unable to actually treat very many, and if that treatment fails to bad for me because I only have a few days I can actually do the attempt... but then what about all those other days I can do nothing about?) well... the secondary suffering, our emotional response to pain, our mental response, how we react to it, how we think about our illness and how we think about ourselves because of our illness, our habitual thoughts, our automatic thoughts, our negative thoughts... those I must think about seriously if I am to have any control over my suffering. And that is what I hide behind the Mask... my physical suffering and all that emotional and mental tormented suffering. Before I went on my leave from work I could barely contain the suffering I felt... someone would ask how I was doing and I would tear up because I would feel this overwhelming despair in me because I knew I could not keep going working like this with this unmanaged migraine pain. That Facade was breaking down. it was a sign to me I was having serious problems coping with the pain and the stresses of coping with the pain.

What do I let people see? Not much really. I seem to have this belief I should be stoic in the face of pain. I'm even fairly stoic with family. But I will tell them if they ask. I will tell my spouse it is a bad day. He often notices when it is a horrific day because the Facade is stripped from me... I don't laugh, or smile... I'm a stumbling zombie. There are signs people are familiar with... if I don't take my sunglasses off inside... if I don't take my hat and my sunglasses off inside. But I am fine verbally telling people this is a bad migraine day. This is a bad communication day. This is a bad aura day. I have severe vertigo today. I used to do that with my co-workers just to give them a heads up. I will talk about my migraines to anyone that asks and i will explain the level of disability and the symptoms to bring awareness. But letting them see my pain, either physically or emotionally? No. You take down the walls... they are too hard to get back up again.

June 2013, Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, is dedicated to Unmasking the Mystery of Chronic Headache Disorders. The 2013 Migraine and Headache Awareness Month Blog Challenge is a project of FightingHeadacheDisorders.com.

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