Living with Migraine disease and other headache disorders changes our lives. That’s an obvious statement. It’s also one that we often don’t give enough consideration. We get so used to living with these disorders, trying to find good treatment plans, and coping with them that we neglect to take the time to look at those changes and see if we can reverse some of the negative changes.
When we live with Migraine or chronic Migraine, there’s an abominable word that we’re forced to use all too often - the word “can’t.” That’s a word I loathe because it limits us, but the somber reality is that there are times when we must use it. One of my grade school teachers often said, “Can’t never accomplished anything.” Ugh! Maybe that’s why that word is so loathsome. This was a teacher I adored, so that stuck with me. It took a long time for me to consciously realize that her statement simply didn’t always apply.
It has hit me smack between the eyes that using “can’t” has become a habit. It’s one of those negative changes that I haven’t looked at. There have been so many times when someone has asked me to go somewhere or do something, and my reply has needed to be, “Sorry, but I can’t.”
Here’s a good example: Last spring, a friend suggested going on a seven-day Carribean cruse in September, and my first response was, “Sorry, but I can’t. Things are too busy, and I’m afraid my Migraines would ruin the trip.” That might have been the end of it, but several people encouraged me to think about it. One of them informed me that, “No,” was not an acceptable response. They pushed and challenged, and they made me really think about it.
“Things are too busy?” When am I not busy? There’s never a not-busy time. Don’t we all owe it to ourselves to take some down-time for relaxation, renewal, and some play? Absolutely.
“I’m afraid my Migraines would ruin the trip.” The challenge to this part of my reply was, “What about the tips you’ve written about travel? Don’t you take your own advice?” Ouch! That hit home, so I took a good look at my Migraine diary and it showed an average of two Migraines a week AND that most of them responded well to triptans. It truly looked as if I could attempt this trip, and maybe Migraines wouldn’t be a bigger problem than I could manage.
In the end, I went on a nine-day vacation that was wonderful and breathtaking, and much-needed.
If you’re wishing I’d get to the point, here it is…
Wow. This was an astounding revelation for me. It revealed a habit that has held me back and limited me terribly. This is a habit I now consciously CHOOSE break and _WILL _ break.
This lead me to think about times when I’ve seen and heard Migraineurs say they can’t do something or go somewhere. Here are some examples:
“That specialist is two hours away. I can’t go there.”
“Between my Migraines and the distance they want to go, I can’t go on vacation with my family.”
“I just can’t go to anything that’s not here, where I live.”
“When you have an event where I live, let me know. Travel is out.”
_Will you join me in a challenge? _
What do you think? Is it possible that you’re like me, and you say, “I can’t,” as much out of habit as necessity?
When there’s something to be done, a special event, or a trip - if “can’t” pops into my head, I now ask myself, “Why not?”
Will there be time when, “can’t” is appropriate and necessary. Certainly, there will be, but it would be great if we got to the point where we can distinguish between necessity and habit so we don’t limit ourselves more than our Migraines do.
_PLEASE post your comments and suggestions, and let’s have a good discussion. _
Make a difference… _Donate to the 36 Million Migraine Campaign! _
Teri Robert is a leading patient educator and advocate and the author of Living Well with Migraine Disease and Headaches. A co-founder of the Alliance for Headache Disorders Advocacy and the American Headache and Migraine Association, she received the National Headache Foundation’s Patient Partners Award and a Distinguished Service Award from the American Headache Society. Teri can be found on her website, and blog, Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+.