Patient Blogs | Migraine
How a Chronic Condition Like Migraine Affects My Identity
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It sucks being a motivated person in a broken body. When you live with a chronic condition, there are so many things you want to do, but you don't know when the pain will set in, so you are afraid to push yourself too hard.

How does a chronic condition like migraine affect your identity?

I've tried to explain it to others by asking them if they've ever had an excruciating toothache. If they say, “yes” they've had a toothache, I say, “That toothache eventually healed, right?” They usually say, "Yes." I then say, “Well, imagine that toothache never stops hurting. It's there all the time you're awake, 7 days a week and for “X” number of years.”

When I see that they can relate on their face, I say, “Well, this is what I've been going through every day for the last “X” number of years.”

Empathy is at the root of it all. Telling someone to "stop worrying about it" doesn’t magically cure the condition. If only cures were that simple. Remember, just because someone appears fine doesn't mean they aren't battling excruciating pain on the inside.

Living with a chronic condition can take a toll mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially. Don’t compare yourself to others. Some people seem to be superhuman high achievers, and the places they've been to, and the things they've done can be intimidating, especially if you're looking at their life through an Instagram filter.

Remember, social media is not real life, and more often than not, people choose to share the good moments. You are not “behind” everyone else. Everyone gets where they are going in life at their own pace.

I'm getting up there in age, I'm single, and I don’t have kids. However, almost everyone in my network is married with young kids. So when I start feeling like I'm “behind” everyone, I have learned to remind myself that the grass isn't always greener on the other side. The grass is greener where you water it.

What I've learned? I envy that my married friends have someone to share burdens with because sometimes it's tough having to make difficult decisions alone. But you know what else I've learned? I've learned that my married friends envy my freedom and lack of sleep deprivation.  

Focus on yourself. Focus on doing tasks that intentionally build upon the day before. It doesn't have to be a big thing -- it can be small things like drinking more water, eating healthier, downloading that dating app you keep stalking, or even going for a walk.

While some actions may seem insignificant, over time, you'll see those achievements aren't tied down to the “end game” of being married, having a house, or landing that dream job. Because once you've “gotten there,” it requires continued nurturing and emotional stamina -- both personally and to those around you.

You are not defined by material things or a chronic condition. Take life one day at a time, and don't let anyone steal your joy. You got this!


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Photo Credit: Cavan Images via Getty Images

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Naki Carter

Naki Carter

Diagnosed since 2001

For nearly 20 years, Naki Carter has been living with migraine. Formerly an award-winning journalist, she is committed to ending the stigma around the invisible illness. Carter lives in South Florida near lots of family and friends, where she enjoys a daily dose of “vitamin sea.” Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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