We all know how hard it it can be to live with migraine, cluster headache, and other headache disorders. There’s never a shortage of reasons to complain. We can go on and on for days lamenting our sad state of affairs. Scapegoats and villains are plentiful, too. Let’s face it, life with a headache disorder can really suck. it’s all too easy to get lost in the negativity, drama, and finger-pointing, and even self-blame.
But what if we changed our focus? Instead of counting all our bad breaks, we could count our blessings. It might be difficult at first — all change is. Some might resist. Change can feel like a threat to our way of living. Some may accuse us of ignoring the very real problems surrounding headache disorders. Yet true thankfulness doesn’t ignore hardship; it celebrates overcoming it. I’ve never been one to shy away from uncomfortable truths about stigma, barriers to quality health care access, the burden of side effects, or the woeful lack of research funding. All of these (and more!) are true. So how is it that I can stay so positive and hopeful in the face of such obstacles? In part, it’s because I choose to focus on gratitude.
So let’s kick off this season of thanksgiving with a really big THANK YOU to someone near and dear to my migraine heart. There are not enough words to express my gratitude for her tireless efforts to improve the lives of patients. Teri Robert was in this fight long before most of us even knew we had migraine. It was from Teri that I first heard those precious words, “Migraine is a disease.” What an eye-opening relief it was to finally have validation! Decades of questions about my sanity were erased in moments when I realized that migraine did not have a psychological cause. I wasn’t imagining any of it. Her words kick-started my long journey toward effective, safe management of both migraine and cluster headache. Without her, I would have never learned how to take control of my own health care. When fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis struck years later, I use those same principles to seek help and develop healthy coping strategies. Over the years we have become colleagues and I am now proud to call her one of my dearest friends. We all owe her a debt of gratitude for improving the lives of everyone living with migraine and headache disorders.
If you haven’t met Teri or aren’t familiar with her work, please follow these links to learn more. You will be glad you did!
Each year on the 4th Thursday of November, US citizens celebrate a day of Thanksgiving. This tradition can be traced back to the the early days of colonization when a group of Pilgrims joined their Native American neighbors in a feast to celebrate and give thanks for their survival of a very harsh winter. Over 200 years later, that tradition has jumped into cyberspace and transformed into a social media tradition of thankful sharing each day in November. While traveling has set me back a few days, I’d like to join the tradition this year with a little twist. For the rest of November, please join me in giving thanks each day. I will be trying to post a brief “thank you” each day that will appear on Facebook or Twitter. Please, follow along and feel free to join in by sharing your own gratitude!