Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Venting About Migraines In a Different Way

"How do you vent your frustrations about living with migraine disease in a way that's helpful to your healing, both emotionally and physically?"

I used to not vent about my migraines at all. For some reason, growing up, I decided to held the Spartan ideal of not showing any pian the best. I was so in awe of the story of the Boy and the Fox, of the little sick boy in The 12th Easter Bunny, who nevver cried or complained and thus got a beautiful Easter egg. So I held everything inside. I didn't cry (much), and I just internalized all my pain.

Then I started getting Cracks started appearing in my shield, and finally, I had a HUGE meltdown. It was ugly, but I came out a different kind of sufferer.

I'm not saying that i now kvetch about my migraines all the time. If anything, I've started to steer away from the really active migraine and chronic pain communities and BBS's. But this isn't because I'm avoiding the reality of my migraine pain.

Instead, I've accepted it.

I know that that sounds really odd, but it's true. I no longer fight the idea of having a migraine. I haven't "given in". Instead, I accept it as as given, and now work on figuring out how to deal with the fact of pain in my life. There's a huge difference between giving up and acceptance. I didn't understand that before, but now I'm very much aware of it, and try to accept my migraine pain, while not getting overwhelmed with the enormity of it.

I still need to vent on occasion. I'll write rants or raving posts in my personal journal sometimes. I'll cry, a good, cathartic cry until I get the frustration out. Sometimes I'll go put on one of my fedoras, set a timer, and have a pity party for 15 minutes. But as soon as that timer rings, I try my best to accept what is, and move on with my life. There's no point in dwelling on what I can't fix; instead I look for any sliver of a silver lining. But something that I've felt even more effective than my 15 minute pity parties is something so simple, I bet a lot of people don't take it seriously. I write down three numbers and a color. 

I journal at least once a day, and every time, at the end of the journal entry, I have the option of "tag"ging the entry with various tags I've created, such that I can reference back to that subject at a later date. It's quite handy for all sorts of things, but I really like it for my numbers and color. Here's the breakdown:

Number 1: My pain level at the time of posting. X/10 pain scale style. So, for sake of demonstration, I'll say that, based on my level of pain right now, I'd tag this post as a 7/10. 

Number 2: My functionality level. X/5 with: 
               1 = very little pain, which can be felt if looked for
               2 = pain that comes and goes
               3 = the pain is always there
               4 = the pain is bad but basic functions can still be preformed
               5 = incapacitated.
For most of yesterday I was a 5/5, as all I could do was lie on the couch and whimper/sleep because of the pain. However, I'm down to the really good 3/5 that I usually aim for. I haven't been a 2 or lower in... years. 

Number 3: My mood on a X/10 scale, with 10 being basically ecstatic. Right now I'd say I'm either a 6 or 7/10. 

The Color: These colors are based on an interpretation of Somatic Experiencing
            Red means that my body is basically shut down, either in relaxation or freeze mode from the over-stimulation from the pain.
           Yellow means that my nervous system is highly activated, either in Fight-of-Flight mode because of the pain levels, or else in happiness, such as laughter, excitement, etc.
          Green comes last. Green is the color that your nervous system needs to be in order to have interpersonal communication/relationships. I personally find it very difficult to stay in Green for any extended length of time,  as the pain of my migraines will poke their head into my mood, and I revert to a less pleasant mind state.
For right now, I think I'm yellow. I'm thinking a lot, analyzing what words I'm going to put down, and generally activated. But that's ok.

Now, I'm sure you're wondering how these three numbers and the color relate to healthy venting about my migraines. The answer is that I'm not venting, I'm stating. I've found that, for me, if I start truly venting without being aware of what I'm doing, I can actually trigger more pain than I had been in, which is kinda counterproductive. 

However, if, every day, I just state a fact about how I'm feeling physically, emotionally, and mentally, it's a way of letting myself say exactly how bad it is without going overboard and getting too depressed about the pain and my limitations. Instead, it's just letting a little steam off, such that the pressure builds much less rapidly.


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