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A War is Waging, and I’m on the Losing Side

Most days I can find something to compare the pain to. Most days I can find comfort in something.

Not today.

I went to bed early last night, as I felt a migraine coming on. I took my medication and was fast asleep. Until 3AM when my head was absolutely throbbing. I lay there hoping it was just a nightmare and that my alarm would go off at 5:30 and I’d be fine. I had to be fine. I had a midterm at 8AM and Spring Break starts tomorrow.

I was far from fine. I got up. I brewed coffee. I put on concealer. And then in realizing how much pain I was in and recognizing that there was no hope in going to class – even if I ubered I probably wouldn’t be able to read my exam. So I stood in front of my mirror and cried. And I don’t cry, because God knows that makes my migraines worse. But I cried. Because this war is getting harder to fight. Migraine is winning.

So I gave in today, not on my own choice, but because a good friend insisted that I go back to bed and hope for the best. Because mental health is supposed to come first. Without mental health how could I be a student?

I took my meds, adjusted the oils in my diffuser, and emailed the professors for the classes I would miss today and my advisor for the meeting I would miss.

Half my grade. I sacrificed half of my grade today. Not knowing if I’d truly be able to gain that grade back. Yes of course I have accommodations, but I feel as if I have exhausted them. I haven’t. But from my perspective, I have. In what world do you constantly get to make up your life? In what world, does life wait for you to be feeling adequate to proceed? Not this world. I feel like I’m in some protected bubble. What happens when I’m not longer a student, because I graduate or just have to drop out? What happens when I don’t have an accommodations office willing to look out for my needs? Is HR going to step up? Companies only have to provide “accommodations within reason” and what if I need more?

It’s been hours… My professors all understand. My exam is waiting to be taken tomorrow. My internet went out again – so here’s another battle I’ve been fighting – and they wanted to come out today to service it. How about no. So they’ll be here tomorrow and they’ll have to be out of here by the time I need to leave and take my exam. And if tomorrow I’m in just as much pain, I don’t think I can push it off. I have to go. I guess failing an attempted exam would be better than failing because I never took it. Even if I fail because I can’t concentrate or see. At least I can pat myself on the shoulder for trying right? Even if it comes at the expense of sacrificing my health even more, right?

I’m exhausted. I’ve managed to eat enough to sustain myself so far today, but I can’t seem to move far away from my couch, or want to. But I can’t seem to fall asleep or get any rest. There’s just so much pain. It’s pushing out of every corner of my skull. It’s pushing in on my eyes. I don’t think taking more meds would do any good, considering they didn’t work in the first place. My essential oils have proven pretty useless. My icepack is painful when I press it to my skull. Today is lost. It won’t be lost for the short period around 5 when I have to go pick up my grocery order from Walmart (its too late to cancel that). But it is lost. My massage therapy appointment is lost. They were nice enough to reschedule it for me without penalty this time – but they reminded me that next time I need a 24 hour notice. Imagine if I had a 24 hour notice. I understand. I really do. But I don’t have that 24 hour notice luxury.

I want to fight. I want to have a life. But I don’t know who’s life I’m fighting for because it certainly isn’t mine. I don’t even remember a life without this war.

I don’t know how I consistently push for my education. I don’t know how I consistently go to work. To be honest, I don’t know how I’ve made it as long as I have.

I look back and try to think of good times, but I can’t anymore.

Sophomore year of HS I went on vacation to the Dominican Republic. I was left to fend for myself battling a migraine and ended up in a dining facility after hours, sitting on the kitchen floor, eating freshly fried plantains that a cleaning person was nice enough to prepare for me because I probably looked like I was going to die if I didn’t eat something.

I got fired on my last day of my first job for not being able to come in because I had to go to the hospital instead. It took a long time to connect that series of incidents to migraine, but looking back, its hard to call it anything else.

I had a panic attack in the middle of a high school football game because of sensory overload. It took all my courage to attend another game after that, afraid I would disappoint my friends like I had that night.

I’ve never given a final presentation or participated in a formal-pin up critique where I could actually see what I was presenting or make real eye contact with the audience. No one knew, except maybe my professors, whom I’d informed, so I could go first to avoid getting sicker.

I went on what should have been a spectacular camping trip with lots of hiking and waterfall exploring, and ended up in the ER because of migraine.

I don’t go out to eat much anymore. If I do, it’s got to be a quiet restaurant – forget any place that has happy hour or a bar or a packed parking lot. If I order a concert ticket, I get insurance in case I have to cancel. I don’t try to make new friends, they don’t understand why I always have to cancel my plans. I don’t even consider attending sporting events. I can barely even grocery shop – thank god for online ordering and easy pick up services.

I’m losing this war that I never signed up to fight.

-A

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