June is Migraine and Headache Awareness Month and this year’s theme is “Inspiring Hope”. One of the questions asked for the blog challenge was who helps you hold on to hope? There isn't just one singular person that has helped me hold on to hope. It has been a collective effort by my closest friends and family members. I have been extremely fortunate throughout my migraine journey when it comes to support. My parents were always keeping me hopeful as I struggled with debilitating migraines as a young child. Treatment options were very few and mostly unsuccessful in preventing and aborting migraine. Staying hopeful when doctors cannot offer up an explanation for your pain or workable medications is extremely difficult. My mother and father would always encourage me to not focus on the negativity and to always believe in the possibility of remission and an eventual cure. They remain steadfast in this belief and remain in my corner to this day.
When I met my husband, I was still dealing with migraine in a big way. Although I was still only episodic, I did have to constantly deal with many triggers and frequent headaches brought on by environmental and synthetic factors. We were both teenagers and he certainly didn't have to stick around with someone whose body was so easily thrown off course by the smallest trigger. Yet, he did and instead of feeling sorry for me or resentment toward me, he embraced me and my disease and tried everything in his power to keep that hope candle burning. Eighteen years later, he has seen me become medication resistant and progress from episodic to chronic. He has held my hand and my spirit when treatments failed and I became hopeless. He picked up the torch and carried me through two suicide attempts, out of the darkness and back into the light. He refuses to let me give up and fills me with a resolve to continue the good fight.
My brightest beacons of hope are my three children. My proudest achievement in life is the birth of my beautiful babies. They have kept me going and provide me with the motivation to keep pursuing new avenues and channels that will bring less pain into my life. I always knew that I wanted to be a mother. Being a parent with multiple chronic pain conditions was never something I ever thought was going to be in my future. Parenting while in pain 5-6 days of the week is the hardest and sometimes most impossible task ever put upon any human being. It was extraordinarily difficult when they were much younger. Babies and toddlers cannot comprehend that mommy is in pain and can barely stand up straight due to how her head is on the verge of exploding. They need you and there is nothing you can do about it except grin and bear it and pray that God will get you through it. Now that they are all teenagers, I can feel a little less guilty about being bed-ridden because they can do more for themselves at their age. It doesn't alleviate how bad I feel as a disabled parent, but I do find joy and hope in the fact that they do not resent me for it and would do anything to help make my day easier.
And then, there are my invaluable friendships with other chronic pain patients and advocates. The mutual support given between us is one of, if not the most, important components in my circle of hope. Knowing people that have the same or similar diseases and illnesses makes all the difference in feeling included and understood rather than secluded, misunderstood and judged. There is a safe haven in having people you can message online, text or call that offer up empathy and compassion and understanding.
As I have said before, I am very fortunate and blessed to have such an extensive network of hopeful and helpful people in my life. I could not possibly see myself doing this alone and it hurts my heart knowing that there are people like me who are mistreated, abused and blamed for having a disabling chronic pain disease, illness or condition. No one deserves to endure emotional, verbal, mental or physical abuse, especially when there is a chronic pain issue. We do not like feeling helpless or useless in our limitations or being made to feel guilty for something we didn't ask for or can completely control. My faith has been my sustenance for all of the unexplainable and difficult times. Putting my faith in something greater than I forces me to let go of what I cannot control and focus on the things in which I can. For anyone who may read this who finds him or herself feeling low or in the need of some hope, I offer up this prayer...