Staying Positive While Living with Migraine
By Erica Carrasco, Achy Smile Blogger
Have you ever broken down in tears mourning the loss of who you used to be? I have, many times, and I still do.
Migraine is a disease, not an excuse to get out of social activities or doing the dishes. Migraine is a disease that robs me from spending time with my family and enjoying the sun. But I’ve started to see migraine in a different light. Yes, I despise migraine, but I also realize that without migraine, I wouldn’t have met my migraine family all over the world through social media. I wouldn’t have been able to teach my children true empathy. I know they will go out into this world soon and be caring, helpful adults. Migraine has taught me how to slow down and take care of my body. These are all positive things in the midst of negativity.
Positivity is a state of mind. When I’m faced with depressing thoughts, I have to pull myself out of the darkness and create my own light. So many people, my family included, have tried to be positive forces these last few years. But when you are in pain and depressed because of migraine, you don’t want to hear positivity from other people. At least I didn’t. I resented their happiness and felt like they’d never understand. While I remained respectful of their advice, I inwardly rejected their offerings of positive reinforcement. Today, I welcome their love and happiness, but it took me a while to get here. After going through counseling for depression and anxiety related to migraine, I realized that is all they can do to help me. They can’t cure migraine. They can’t stop my pain. They are helpless against migraine, but they can offer me support and love. I can now finally accept what they can give.
I found real positivity through reading articles online about remaining positive with chronic pain. I started seeing a mental health counselor who gave me a different perspective of living with chronic migraine and other comorbid diseases. After a few sessions, I had a light bulb moment. I realized that my happiness is in my hands. I could either allow the depression to rule my life and in turn my family’s life or I could smile and find what makes my heart happy.
Writing has always made me happy, and reading is my favorite hobby. Sharing my feelings and what works for me has given me a new purpose. I found out that by sharing my story and being completely open and honest about the bad days, I am helping other people with migraine. They can relate to me and, in turn, I felt less alone. We help each other find some peace. Even just a little bit goes a long way.
I was naturally a very positive person before chronic migraine. I was a “glass half full” kind of gal. After years of chronic migraine and losing several jobs, I started seeing the “glass half empty.” My mental health declined, and I needed help to find positivity again.
I am so grateful for all the help I have today. I have my family and a team of doctors that includes a neurologist, migraine specialist, primary care physician and mental health therapist. I know some of you don’t have loving and respectful people surrounding you. I’ve read so many stories online of the lack of support and the depression that it creates. Counseling to help you overcome and find positivity might be the best thing you could ever do. Sending you positive vibes and if you ever feel so down and you can’t find your way out, know you are not alone.
Erica Carrasco is a migraine blogger from Midland, Texas, now living in Fayetteville, North Carolina. She helps her husband, Stephen, raise their two teens, Marissa and Noah, through a life with chronic pain and neurological symptoms. Their daughter, who also lives with migraine disease, is a junior in high school learning how to thrive with Erica at her side. In her blog, Erica also talks about missing her career as a Cyber Security Consultant with the United States Department of Defense. Erica lost three jobs in this career field because of migraine and now is learning how to let go and find a new purpose through migraine advocacy. Just recently, Erica shared the stage with prominent women in the health industry and talked about her life with migraine at BlogHer, a SheKnows Media annual blogger conference. With a candid and open dialogue, Erica is a Speak Your Migraine Network advocate and shines a light on a life with migraine with her husband by traveling across the United States telling their story. Together they discuss what their family life is like and how important advocacy is to the migraine community.