After 18 years of living chronic migraine, numerous hours in doctors’ offices and countless failed therapies, some may wonder how hope could ever be a part of my vocabulary now. To be honest, the younger version of myself would ask me the same question. For my younger self, hope was synonymous with my dreams. I dreamt that a doctor could be my super-hero. Someone who could prescribe a treatment that would take away all my pain just as quickly as it began. Someone who would give me back the life I once knew. As treatment after treatment failed to do this, my dreams began to fall away, and, along with them, my hope. Disappointment, despair and anger ultimately led me down the path of believing that my hope was gone.
However, that’s not the end of the story! Now, when I think about hope, it has taken on a whole different meaning. Like a faithful friend, hope had been with me every step of the way. It is not tangible like a dream that is fulfilled. Rather, it is the force deep down inside of us that keeps us going. It is the voice within that drives us to move forward. When treatments fall short of our dreams, hope gives us the courage to adjust and form more realistic goals. Hope is that something that gives us the strength to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin a new tomorrow. To put it another way, hope is the unwavering companion in our lives that stands beside us as we dare to dream new dreams for ourselves and for our migraine community. Let’s look at five reasons why we should hold onto hope:
HOPE Counteracts Fear & Gives Us the Courage to Face Tomorrow
Fear is an emotion we can all relate to at times along our journey. Fear is that unwelcome visitor that creeps into our world at times when things seem to be at their worst. For me, fear has come when my pain seems to have no end, or when a doctor has told me they have nothing left to help. Hope helps us resist the temptation to sit with this unwanted guest for a long time. It gives us the courage to get up and move forward again tomorrow. It reminds us of the toolbox we have built to help manage life with migraine. Hope gives us the strength to make new decisions and allows us to take some power back from this disease.
HOPE Keeps You Learning Even During Challenging Times
When life with migraine becomes challenging, those moments can be filled with negative emotions. Hope helps us through those trying times by pushing us to keep looking for answers. It encourages us to learn from articles and advocates’ blogs, from patient Facebook groups or a trusted healthcare provider. Keeping ourselves informed leads to a better understanding of treatment options, including risks and benefits. That information helps us have informed discussions with our doctors. Knowledge becomes an invaluable tool in our toolbox and a powerful conduit to recharge hope.
HOPE Keeps Us From Catastrophizing
When a migraine attack strikes that sends me seeking out a dark room, my brain can quickly spring into action to play the “what if” game. In fact, my brain could probably play this game all day if I let it! But that inner voice of hope can help not allow this overwhelming thinking takeover the day (or the night). Hope helps us steer our focus away from what MAY be and focus on the here and now. We do not have to handle a “lifetime” of pain at this moment. All we need is to manage this specific migraine attack. From medicines to coping strategies, hope gives us back some power as we realize that whatever happens in this moment we can handle it.
HOPE Builds the Migraine Community
When we need to take refuge from our migraine symptoms most of us tend to feel socially isolated. In those moments, hope whispers to us that we need to find others who understand what we are going through. Others who will help balance out the feeling of aloneness and hopelessness. The migraine community provides many ways to connect with others. This can be through a support group, either local or online, migraine blogs, Facebook groups, road races, patient education days, letter-writing campaigns, migraine surveys, Headache on the Hill, and Retreat Migraine to name a few. As we join with others our inner hope rejuvenates. At the same time, we are able to cultivate the migraine community’s hope as more voices come together. We start to speak stronger and louder about issues that are important to all of us on this journey. We start to make a real difference for the future.
HOPE Enables Us To Focus On New Options
Now more than ever, we have every reason to listen to that voice of hope because the migraine landscape has been radically changing over the past two years. New migraine medications and devices have come to market that are providing relief to many. In addition, many more migraine treatments are in the clinical pipeline, some of which are expected to be FDA approved within the next year or two. Hope also enables us to see the changes happening in medical education, as the disparity of qualified headache specialists is starting to be addressed. Hope allows us to look to the future; a future that is more promising and encouraging than ever!
We all have times when we get caught by the pitfalls that come with migraine disease. There is no shame in that! However, when we listen to hope, even in the darkest place, that allows a glimmer of light to come through. As a migraine community, we together stand hopeful that our tomorrows shine brighter than our yesterdays.