The Migraine - Love Connection

  • Writing about the Migraine and love connection is difficult. Most patients will agree that Migraine is costly in many ways, particularly when you begin to consider those you care about. There is more to the story, however, and I hope both patients and people who don’t understand Migraine will consider these tidbits of thought…

    • Migraine costs us family, friends, and other important relationships, and we have little or no control over those losses. We need to get over what others "think." These are the facts.
    • Dealing with illness related loss is like dealing with a divorce. It sometimes even is divorce. What this means is that it can be even more devastating to the patient than a death. A death is final, and it is rarely the choice of the person you’ve lost. Migraine related loss is usually the choice of someone you care about, however. You live the rest of your life knowing that person chose to abandon you, and they’re still going on with their lives… without you. Abandonment by someone you love is one of the most profound and devastating experiences of sadness a person can experience.
    • Migraine costs us little bits of ourselves too because we love our family and friends so dearly that we hurt knowing that this disease costs them pain too. As if our physical pain weren’t enough, we go through each day knowing that we are hurting those we love the most because they love us. We see it in their little faces, and we overhear it in their conversations with others. We hide tears we shed in the noise of a hot shower or the darkness of the night. Often, this results in patients distancing themselves from their loved ones to try to minimize the hurt they feel they are causing them. Choosing to walk away from those you love dearly may seem to make sense to a patient, but few loved ones agree with this choice! Never mind however, as few Migraineurs will ask. They simply take on the burden of guilt, trying their hardest to relieve the person they love the only ways they know how. This is really a form of giving up to our disease though, and it’s not necessary.
    • Can you imagine walking away from your family, or spouse, or lifelong friend… on purpose? Many Migraineurs can when they think they’re saving someone they love, and sadly, many have made this terrible choice. Let’s think about what we’ve just done though. Aren’t we abandoning them, just like the people we just talked about who abandoned us?
    • What we as patients forget, is that we matter. In all this mess of chronic illness, we put others first and forget to put a spot on the list for us. We forget that we are important. We feel “less than.” We have got to get this out of our heads though! We deserve to be loved because, buried beneath the physical pain, patients are really amazing, strong, brave and faithful people. We are not "less than."
    • Yes, it’s okay to try to salvage a relationship you think is gone, no matter who abandoned whom. It’s great when you succeed in salvaging a relationship. It’s also okay when you fail, because a relationship takes more than one person. That means you both have to be ready to try. You may be amazing, but your friend may not be up to the task. That’s not your problem. It’s theirs. With a little luck and time, sometimes they even grow into the people you deserve to have in your life.
    • I used to like to say, “There are two types of people – those who understand what it’s like to live with chronic illness, and those who will eventually understand.” Few of us get out of this life without dealing with a painful illness at some point, even if it’s at the end of life. You may have to live a very long time to see someone finally understand, but it usually happens at some point.

    I have lost people in my life. Their loss created a hole in my chest I’ve tried fairly successfully to ignore. I realized just how many losses there have been as I began to plan my 50th birthday party and counted how few people I had in my life to invite.

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    Migraine and chronic illness has isolated me, and that makes me angry. Most of the blame goes to my illnesses, but some is on me too. I can’t control my illnesses, but I can control how I live with them, who I am and what I do to play my part in the relationships I value. That said, I try hard not to forget one really valuable thought…

    A relationship is a two way street and communication and effort to maintain a relationship goes both ways!

    I was blamed for not contacting a relative for a period of time in which I lost nearly everything to my illnesses. I accepted that guilt, tossed at me like stones. I later realized that was a big mistake. Yes, I wish I could have done more to maintain that relationship, but I was sick. People who really love you will still be there to pick up where you left off at any time – that’s the beauty of those true relationships. My relative had no excuse. Instead of calling me to open the door, they built their fortress of anger. I thought I was protecting them by not putting them through my own problems. We both made mistakes.


    I tried unsuccessfully to mend the hurt. Today, an entire side of my family is gone to me and my children, and generations will be denied the love of family everyone should have.


    I still love those I have lost. I always will. There will always be a place for them and my arms will always be open. I’m a much stronger, smarter girl though. If you love me, you have to love the Migraineur part of me as much as the regular girl. Walking back into my life will be just a beautiful beginning, because being in my life takes work. A relationship with this girl is a journey, not a destination.


    Don’t forget the old saying,

    "You get out of it what you put into it."

    Live your best life,


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    © Ellen Schnakenberg, 2014.
    Last updated February 7, 2014.

Published On: February 07, 2014