Using Anger to Fight MigraineLast Updated:
In addition to unrelenting, excruciating pain, chronic migraines bring out a lot of emotions…worry, anxiety, fear, terror, disappointment, sadness, depression, embarrassment, humiliation, shame, irritation, annoyance…but nothing has more potential than anger.
Anger has energy behind it. It drives us to take action. Sometimes it drives us to lash out at doctors, insurance companies, bosses, co-workers, friends, family, and even perfect strangers. Even darker is anger’s ability to drive us to turn inward in self-reproach, self-blame, and self-sabotage. It is a primal emotion that can short-circuit our ability to think rationally and lose control of ourselves.
Would you be surprised to know that there is absolutely nothing wrong with anger? It is no more evil than any other powerful weapon. That weapon just sits there, completely benign, until someone points it at a target and pulls the trigger. Whether by careless, undisciplined reflex or by conscious, deliberate action its destructive potential can be unleashed. It takes some practice to ensure that its payload is delivered to precisely the right target at the correct time (and avoid hitting innocent bystanders)
So how can a migraineur effectively use anger in the fight against Migraines? It starts with identifying the original target of our anger. I don’t know what that might be for you, but for me it’s the disease itself. Migraine has robbed me of so many good things…friendships, jobs, money, dignity…the list could go on for a very long time. At times, I’ve experienced a sort of “Stockholm syndrome” in which I identify with and protect Migraine. During these times I have unconsciously sabotaged the very things that could fight (and possibly) destroy it. I am angry that Migraine put me in that position. It has really “messed with my head”, getting me to think all kinds of untrue things about myself and others. In dark times, it will say to me, “You’re never going to get any better. You might as well give up now.” It is my mortal enemy. It has tortured me both physically and emotionally. It has driven away loved ones. It has engaged in a campaign of misinformation and psychological warfare to turn potential allies into enemies.
As I describe its crimes, I am reminded that I am in a war. Anger is my weapon and my back-up generator. It fuels my strength when Migraine syphons off my energy reserves. I have to be smarter, faster, stronger than it. The most dangerous person in the world is one with nothing to lose. When it comes to Migraines, that’s me. If I surrender, it will destroy my life. It already consumes much of my time, energy, resources, and finances whether I fight or surrender. I prefer to fight.
The problem is that sometimes I’ve forgotten who the enemy is. I mistake “friendly forces” for “enemies” and lob bombs at the wrong targets. Perhaps you’ve made the same mistake a time or two? It’s easy to do. Migraine plays tricks on us, makes us “see” things that aren’t really there. An effective warfare strategy is to fool your enemy into destroying it’s own forces. Migraine is very skilled at this tactic. It’s also skilled at brainwashing innocent people into believing false information about it. They can become casualties of our attacks if we are not careful. We can mistake them for enemies when they are really victims of Migraine’s crimes as well.
But we have some pretty impressive strategies, too. Lucky for us Migraine can’t read, write, speak, or see. We can launch our own counter-intelligence to destroy its propaganda. We can covertly reach out to potential allies who have their own powerful weapons. Remember, this is our “homeland”. Migraine is the invader. We know “the lay of the land” and our very survival depends on success. We’ve lost too many valuable soldiers already. Don’t be one of them. Stay angry and keep it trained on the right target. Don’t fire until you see the “whites of its eyes”.