I am 33 years old and have suffered from migraines since I was quite young, but chronically for over a decade. For a good portion of that decade I have dealt with chronic pain by creating a facade of well-being to convince myself and others I could cope while at the same time taking out everything from my life that was not absolutely necessary to my survival. [Tweet this.] I gave up my academic studies and my career of choice, convincing myself less pain would compensate for less passion. Perhaps it did, but unfortunately, treatment for chronic migraines is never a long term solution. It involves trying out numerous medications that never seem to last very long (if they work at all) and juggling medications to help with active migraines so that I do not hit a rebound headache. For a long time I existed like this, and I survived.

One thing no one says is that migraines kill. You may not have a stroke, or seizure or heart attack, but with enough years of daily migraines, you will become quite indifferent to your own survival – if not actively trying to end it. No one mentions that we have a far greater chance of killing ourselves rather than having a stroke. [Tweet this.] Or that we would adamantly wish for a timely stroke just so we do not have to endure one more day. I got to this point myself after taking numerous short term leaves of absence from work, which did little except make my work situation far worse and increase my level of guilt for not being able to sustain full-time work. Unfortunately, pain is not sufficient reason to call in sick or to go on long term disability, or at least that is how we are treated. Finally I decided calling in dead ought to do it. Someone might think that this is terrifying to contemplate such a thing. What was far more terrifying was surviving the attempt and realizing that absolutely nothing changes. It was like I, as the patient with uncontrolled pain, had absolutely no vote in my treatment or my ability to work.

How I was treated in the workplace (which ranged from threats of demotion to being fired if I called in sick to being forced to come in with a full blown status migraine), that treatment frustrates me and makes me furious. Yet I can do nothing about it. Therefore upon my return to work, I have to tow the party line. What enrages me though is the complete disinterest in the ER or with my doctor, such that I was simply expected to deal with such continual pain without any assistance or consideration for the strong mental and emotional price for enduring it. I fear if chronic migraine patients are at such a risk for suicide we might want to reconsider how we are treating them because obviously something is failing each and every one of us. It is not about ‘coping’ with pain, it is about pain management and our very survival.