My migraine episodes beg for quiet solitude. Isolated in a dark room, the clock ticks away the minutes or hours as I wait for rescue medication to kick in. These are the moments I feel most alone in the world.
For the first 3 1/2 decades of my life, each episode brought with it the hopeless feeling of the world moving on without me. An illusion clouding the fact that millions of people out there suffered with me. I just didn’t know their names.
I was in my late 30s when I found Laura. She was my co-worker and the first friend I had who shared my illness.
She didn’t have to tell me when a migraine episode was invading her life. I could see the physical change to her face as she walked down the hall. I could hear the impact of the attack on her body through the wounded tone of her otherwise cheerful voice.
She didn’t have to ask for my support. I was prepared to help her even if that meant nothing more than leaving her to the solitary completion of her chosen treatment plan.
At a time when you need to be alone, it’s good to know you have an ally standing just outside the darkness. Someone who knows to quiet the noise and dim the lights and divert the chaos headed your way.
If Laura opened my eyes to the power of connecting to fellow migraine sufferers, social media opened the door. As a member of a migraine group on Facebook, I have support at my fingertips anytime, day or night.
Sharing information about triggers, symptoms, and treatments is helpful, but sharing life with a chronic illness is even more important. It’s not just you and it’s not just me. Whether we’re a continent apart or across town from each other, we’re in it together.
For every story posted to social media about anguish, mistreatment, and misunderstanding, there are numerous replies of encouragement. For each cry of loneliness echoed within the group, there are people reaching out with virtual hugs. Friends and life and hope are out there.
We share more than tears and struggles. We share the triumph of successful treatments and headache-free days. We roll our eyes together at ridiculous suggestions from people without migraines who mean well but don’t get it. We laugh at the silly things we do or say amid a migraine fog.
Connections come in all shapes and sizes. Whether it’s a single co-worker, an in-person support group, or a virtual network inside your favorite social media platform, connecting with other migraine warriors adds a new level to your quality of life.
Connections are an outlet, a resource, and an empowering means of strength when you feel most alone. Connections bring hope for a happier and healthier life. And perhaps best of all, connections are the opportunity to pay that hope forward.
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