A Bed of Clouds
Day #2 Blog Prompt: Today’s Challenge is based on the poem, “Bed of Clouds” which can be found at Family Friend Poems.
WAKE UP! You’re asleep on a bed of clouds. Clouds have no substance. They are only sponges for holding moisture. You think you are secure, but you are in danger of falling to the earth. You wonder why you keep falling, yet you keep climbing back up on that false bed of clouds.
One of the perils of a chronic illness is complacency. We can so easily get stuck in faulty thinking that prevents us from truly getting the relief we deserve. Now before you all start lobbing virtual rotten fruit and eggs, let me explain. I am NOT “patient blaming”. I discovered this little gem of truth while examining my own experience with migraine and cluster headaches. Consider this a cautionary tale based on the experience of an experienced migraine veteran.
So what do I mean by “faulty thinking”? Cognitive-behavioral therapists call them dysfunctional or automatic thoughts. We encourage people to track and challenge them to gain a more realistic view of their lives. By exploring the actual evidence both for and against each statement, you can discover the truth behind these emotionally-charged statements. Each automatic thought may have a ring of truth to it. After all, some people do accuse us of faking a migraine. Some of us do get fired and others spend years trying for disability benefits. Our friends leave us. Our family resents us. Life with migraine can be lonely and depressing.
It’s these very truths that make us so vulnerable to giving in to these thoughts as a matter of habit. We are lulled into a complacent “bed of clouds” thinking we have it all, know it all, and there’s nothing more to do. We must regularly challenge these automatic thoughts and discern the truth if we are to continue getting optimal results from our migraine treatments. Otherwise we risk spiraling down into defeat and eventually give up trying for better results. For those prone to depression, challenging automatic thoughts becomes even more essential.
Here are some migraine-specific examples of each kind of dysfunctional thought.
Yes, I’ve been guilty of every single one more than once. 🙂
“I want a cure. If that doctor can’t stop these migraines for good, I’m going to quit.”
“Doctors never help me.”
“That doctor recommended a therapist. He thinks I’m crazy and that I’m faking it.”
“This next migraine just might kill me.”
Chain reaction (a form of catastrophizing)
“If call in sick to work one more time because of a migraine, my boss will be so mad. I will probably get written up and eventually get fired. I could never get approved for Disability and we can’t survive on that small of a check anyway.”
“What if this drug does more damage? What if I go blind? What if I get kidney stones?”
“My boss just sighed with frustration. He must think I’m faking it.”
“I don’t have the right to complain if I don’t try that gluten-free diet.”
“I’ve tried and failed so many treatments!”
Jumping to conclusions
“My husband complains about how often I get migraines. He must really be mad at me.”
“Teri’s got it all together. Why can’t my life be like hers?”
Discounting the positives
“If only I’d been more careful, maybe I could have avoided a migraine this week.”
“I can’t afford get a migraine today. It will ruin everything!”
“I asked for this migraine. If only I’d checked for food triggers before I just dove at the pot-luck.”
“I feel so worthless. I can’t hold down a job or earn a living.”
“I know that Botox would work if only my doctor would agree to it.”
“Betty brags that her migraines are cured. I try so hard. Why can’t that be me?”
“If that doctor would just listen to me, I’d be better by now.”
“I’ve been avoiding triggers and taking my meds. I deserve a break from the pain.”
Can you hear yourself in one or more of these? Stop sleeping on a bed of clouds! Wake up and challenge your thinking. You might need to share your automatic thoughts with a trusted friend to get help finding the truth. When you see the truth clearly, unclouded by emotion, then you can make good lifestyle and treatment choices and maximize your chances of more migraine-free days.
The 2014 Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, is dedicated to Dreaming of a World without Migraine and Headache Disorders. The 2014 Migraine and Headache Awareness Month Blog Challenge is a project of FightingHeadacheDisorders.com.