Facing constant pain is hard. In this piece Danielle Fancher shares some of her tactics for coping with this reality.
I am angry.
I’ve been in constant pain for nearly 5 years without a minute’s break — and it sucks. So yes, if I am being honest with myself, I am angry with my migraine.
That said, my years of experience in dealing with this anger around my illness has taught me a lot. So while I still see room for improvement in managing my anger, I want to share some of my tactics for coping with this reality.
There are a lot of little things about my illness that make me angry. My migraine costs a substantial amount of money. I have to go to doctors’ appointments constantly. I have to remember to take my medication and pick up new medications. I wake up in pain every morning and nothing seems to help me. I regularly feel defeated after trying a new thing and it doesn’t work... The list goes on.
All of these annoyances around my migraine, whether big or small, add up. And, from time to time, I get angry that I have to deal with this illness and that I have yet to find any relief.
One thing I have learned is that I regularly need to release my anger as it comes up instead of letting it build up. Here’s how I release some of the tension:
I know that it’s hard to meditate while enduring pain. At times it even feels comical to consider it because my pain is so severe. So, during the worst times, I tend to skip out of a full meditation or guided meditation experience.
That said, I like to lean on meditation regularly in my life. I appreciate having this tool in my toolkit for moments when I am feeling upset with my migraine (and not in too much pain).
It’s helpful to know that wherever I am, regardless of time of day, location, or degree of anger, that I can guide myself through a meditation. Or, even easier, put in my headphones and listen to a guided meditation.
Sometimes I get distracted. Sometimes it doesn’t work at all. But sometimes it makes a difference and calms me, which I appreciate.
I never anticipated that writing would prove a useful outlet for me. However, hands down, it’s the easiest way for me to release my anger toward my migraine.
For some reason, putting my anger down in writing, editing it, and often deleting it, feels fantastic. It’s like my angry thoughts are out of my brain and never coming back.
I’m fortunate that I have strong support from my friends and family, and a solid network of migraine sufferers who I tend to connect with when I am feeling particularly angry.
My mom is the real MVP of helping me deal with my anger with my migraine. She’s ALWAYS up for listening and helping me talk through the issue. I know that I am really lucky to have her constant support.
I understand that this may sound a little unconventional, but in addition to talking through my pain with my mom and other migraine suffers, I talk to myself.
I know when I’m about to let my migraine anger get the best of me — I can feel it coming. So, talking myself down by saying something like, “You can either decide to let this make you crazy or you can decide to accept it,” helps me.
These surprisingly help a lot — I lean on breathing exercises every time I start to get angry. Simply focusing on my breath in, and my breath out, can take me out of my head and my spiraling angry thoughts.
This one may be odd, but I’ve learned not to fight back when a bout of anger is fully taking charge. Sometimes, I just need to let it happen, sit with my anger, and accept that I am rightfully angry with my illness.
And after sitting with my anger, sometimes it dissipates and sometimes it does not. When it doesn’t, I lean toward distractions to calm me down.
My favorite distraction is reading. Being sucked into a book is the best way to take my mind off of my anger toward the pain. This is likely why I read so much. Other distraction tactics that I leverage are watching TV, listening to music, listening to audiobooks, and spending time with close friends.
In this process of not only managing my migraine brain, but also managing my anger toward my migraine, I have learned that there is no right or wrong way to go about this process.
Facing chronic pain is hard. I am still in the process of figuring out what works best for me, and I understand that it takes time and a lot of experience.
My hope is that I continue to handle my anger toward my migraine in a responsible way so that I don’t let it get the best of me.
The information presented is solely for educational purposes, not as specific advice for the evaluation, management, or treatment of any condition.
The individual(s) who have written and created the content in and whose images appear in this article have been paid by Teva Pharmaceuticals for their contributions. This content represents the opinions of the contributor and does not necessarily reflect those of Teva Pharmaceuticals. Similarly, Teva Pharmaceuticals does not review, control, influence or endorse any content related to the contributor's websites or social media networks. This content is intended for informational and educational purposes and should not be considered medical advice or recommendations. Consult a qualified medical professional for diagnosis and before beginning or changing any treatment regimen.
NPS-ALL-NP-01007 JUNE 2023