#MeToo and Migraines

I recently participated in a survey about pain and painful memories for research purposes. Although I have known about painful memories as a trigger for migraines, the survey had me in a state of mindfulness where I actually allowed myself to draw the connections between my memories and my migraines.

I read the book The Body Keeps the Score (can be found here) a year or so ago and remember thinking, “wow, my migraines could be associated with my own experiences of childhood trauma and sexual assault.” However, I dismissed it as an actual “trigger” at the time because it didn’t feel real enough. It is often the problem with living with an invisible disease that because I can’t always explain or predict when a migraine will happen; I tend to rank my triggers more tangible like “light and sound” over “stress and trauma” as more contributing factors to an episode which is not true.

The #metoo movement helped bring light to a struggle I was going through.  Sometimes memories are so painful that bringing them up actually cause pain and could trigger a migraine–but #metoo allows me to tell other that I am a victim without me having to tell  my whole story.  The simplicity of the hashtag has helped me come to terms with some of  my more “ambiguous” reasons as to why I don’t feel well.  There is the medical research to back me in how my body responds to stress, yet the medical research could not help me explain it in a way to others without having to provide my narrative. Some women (and men) have been able to provide their #metoo story in detail, and that is ok–their story to tell; however, I am not there yet.

I’ll close with a personal example from this week. My alma mater was having a party and I knew someone might there that for lack of better phrasing is on my “#metoo list.” Arguing why he would be there isn’t the point, but unfortunately this person is still around . I had other plan options that night so I wasn’t going to be upset if I didn’t go; however, I felt that I was being pressured and many friends and acquaintances were urging me to go. I knew by going that I would only be put in situation where my body would be in alert, pacing if that person shows or not, just in a constant state of anxiety which would ultimately bring on a whopper migraine. It was a great feeling to not have to explain the domino effect of pain it would cause for me to go and I simply told a close friend that I had a #metoo situation with someone who might have been invited.

I hope this movement spreads to other areas–it is exhausting explaining to where it seems like you are justifying to people that there is something wrong or that you are in pain.



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