My name is Maddie Goldsborough, and I have chronic migraine. I’m an eighteen-year-old senior at Germantown Friends School, and hopefully, a soon to be freshman at Scripps College. I have had chronic migraine since I was 13. I chose Scripps, in part, because it’s in Southern California, a part of the US that has some of the lowest barometric pressure variations. My migraine spikes are mostly triggered by pressure changes. Migraine is a lifelong invisible disease. I see my chronic pain as awful, but also as a strength. I am so much more motivated to achieve my goals because I’m in discomfort either way, so I focus on trying to do what makes me happy. It’s such a helpful thing to focus my energy on living my life the way I want to instead of dwelling on my situation. I live passionately and love deeply, and I consider myself lucky to be in a place to do so, even if it’s partly motivated by my pain.
In terms of school, I advocate for myself every day. Moving to online classes has been a challenge because spending time on screens makes my head worse, but I’ve gotten through it and I’m almost done! I’m so excited to graduate, but I’ve found myself mourning the loss of the celebrations I was looking forward to all year. My piano recital and music composition presentation will both be online. Although I’m glad they’re still able to happen, I would have clearly rather had them in person so I could share music the way I love to. I also sing in my school’s a cappella group and have been arranging short pieces of music for us during quarantine. It’s really rewarding to hear my work performed so quickly after I write it, and to have a video to send around to people.
Right now, I’m mostly trying to keep myself from letting my grief get in the way and stop me from functioning. It’s a really upsetting time and because pain is an emotion and I have it all the time, I’ve found that my other emotions are often heightened. It’s both a blessing and a curse. It can be distracting, but it can also mean I appreciate my life in a completely different way than before I had this disease. If you just got diagnosed with migraine and you’re feeling overwhelmed, reach out to people who also have this disease. In my case, I found close friends through the Miles for Migraine teen camps. Friends who understand exactly what you mean when you say you’re “out of spoons” or had a terrible brain fog day are so important. As always, sending many spoons!
by Maddie Goldsborough
Miles for Migraine Youth