I, like several people I know, am subject to migraines. They go in phases, sometimes. In a bad phase, I'll get one every week, sometimes more. In a good phase, I'll get one once a month, though rarely less than that. Migraines are evil. They affect one's life in a myriad of ways and they are invisible. I look perfectly healthy, and it's just a headache, right? Except, it's not. If you've never had a migraine, you can't know how debilitating they are. They affect your vision, your digestion, your mental capabilities and your emotional well being. I can't drive when I have a bad migraine. It's not that I can't see, it's that I can't see properly. I no longer get migraines with aura, thank goodness. When I had those, I literally couldn't see.
I miss an unfortunate amount of work due to migraines. Thankfully, I currently have a job with sick leave, so I don't lose money when I miss work. But, I miss work. And I hate that this affects my job. Because it is an invisible illness and because a headache doesn't seem like that big of a deal, it makes me look bad when I leave work or miss work due to a migraine. It makes it look like I don't have much of a work ethic, when nothing could be further from the truth. Because of this, there are days when I manage to get to work and stay there despite a migraine, but it isn't easy and I don't get a lot done.
Migraines can be socially embarrassing as well. There's nothing like collapsing on your date's floor in tears of agony when one comes on like a bullet train. Nothing like having to ask to be allowed to stay the night because driving home isn't a good option, especially when you know you are trespassing on their good will. Today, I missed my SIL's performance, one she has been working on for months, because I had a migraine. It's terrible. I wanted to go, I wanted her to know I support her and am proud of her and I couldn't do it.
Here's something I don't think a lot of people know about migraines. They can induce a profound depression. I don't know if it has to do with blood flow in the brain or the being in intense pain for a protracted amount of time or the loss of control over life or what it is, but migraines send me (and many others) into depression. We know we miss things, we know we don't perform like we should, we know we make unfair demands on our friends and family. Those things hurt. I recall one time after a particularly bad bout, I fell asleep on the chaise in my room and woke to find my little daughter (she was 3 or 4 at the time) sitting on me reading a book. She had made me a little snack of salami and cheese and bread. And I cried. I cried because I should have been the one taking care of her and I failed. And not only did I fail, she had picked up the slack for me as she could and was taking care of me.
So, there you go. I'd say, show a little compassion for those that suffer, but most of my friends do, for which I am very grateful. But, compassion or not, I still feel awful for getting them, for making unfair demands on my friends and family and for missing things I oughtn't to be missing.