Patient Blogs | Migraine
Dear Migraine....
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Dear Migraine,

You felt like a familiar friend at first. You were a regular visitor to the women in my family. By the time you leaned across my threshold, I was expecting you. It was finally my time. I almost welcomed you – with open, yet timid arms.

What I knew is that when you visited, the women would retreat behind closed doors – creaking and closing softly. You never visited the men – at least not in my world. They would come home with other hurts.

But the women, my mother, my aunties, would retire to a dark room – quiet and cold. “I have a headache,”they would say. They would disappear and we would all be quiet for some time. When they reappeared, I’d see warm smiles and even toothy grins. I’d see relief. I’d smell rebirth. Some would hum. They went in crumpled and broken and returned anew. What magic happened when they left?

Whatever happened behind that door, I wanted to be a part of it. It didn’t happen to those of us who wore pigtails, wrote book reports on summers, and chased fireflies. Would it mean that I was a woman? Would my breasts come in and my back sway? Would I wear red lipstick too? You were my heritage, I thought. You would make me a woman. I would wear diamonds and mash potatoes. I would sass husbands and wipe baby noses. I would have migraines, too – one day.

When you first visited me, I was in my mid-teens. I tried to be grateful. You were already so familiar to the people I loved. Your arrival felt like love passed down.

Before I could embrace you, you sent me to my knees. You broke my back. You hindered my breath and by the time you hurled remnants of a turkey sandwich, plain chips, and sweet tea from my lips I wanted no more of you. Is this what abusers do? You showed up kindly and softly many times but would change shape and size.

You’d leave and I’d be hopeful. But then you would come again.

For years, we battled and danced – like the most beautiful martial arts. You emerged from the shadows, dressed in black. Unannounced. I posed to fight you, but then we embraced. I steadied my stance to take aim, but you would just circle around me. Our arms intertwined. Our breath together. Sway, tap, lean. Sway, tap, lean. Each pierce from your sword taught me how to defend myself. Each restraint strengthened my bones and my muscles. If I wasn’t steady in mind, you would overcome me. Sometimes you would let me win. Were you my enemy or my teacher?

I am a woman now – like my mother and aunties. They were strong – when you were around and when you were not. Now, I retire to a dark room – quiet and cold. “I have a headache,” I say. I disappear and all are quiet for some time. When I reappear, I offer a warm smile and a toothy grin. I am relieved.

Closed doors. Quiet rooms. Emerge. Rebirth. The women who raised me had migraines and now I do too.


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Photo Credit: Mikolette / iStock via Getty Images Plus

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Michele Jordan

Michele Jordan

Diagnosed since 1992

Michele Jordan, a Los Angeles-based freelance writer, was diagnosed with migraine in 1992. Her writing background includes magazine and online journalism, grant writing, and now screenwriting. She is passionate about both physical and mental health and is the author of the book, Thanking Your Way to Joy: Daily Gratitude Journal. When not writing, Michele enjoys traveling with her husband, trying new, healthy recipes, and cuddling beagles. Her latest passion includes exploring and discussing issues around equity in housing, health care, and the justice system.

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