My Red Glasses

I wear them everywhere, in fact I wear them so much it has become how friends of mine find me in a crowd. I wear them on my head and they serve a great function of keeping my hair out of my face or calming that one unruly curl that wants to go in its own direction. More than a fashion statement, my red sunglasses with sparkly hearts on the earpieces are a vital and necessary part of my migraine coping system.

What many who see me and many who know me well would never suspect is that my red glasses have a secret super-power.

They are my light shield.

Light is such a great thing, it helps us see by bouncing off of things in our path and gives us pleasure in revealing different hues of paint splotched on canvas in breathtaking works of art. But light is also my nemesis.

I have chronic migraine. There are very few days when I am completely symptom free, most of my hours are dominated by either prodrome symptoms or postdrome symptoms, with migraine attacks in the middle.

My triggers are many and varied, which makes it difficult to anticipate or avoid them. Here is a partial list:
flashing/strobing light
changes in barometric pressure
change in sleep patterns
food additives
food combinations
too much sugar
too much caffeine
not enough caffeine
Mondays…just kidding, but sometimes it is hard to pin down the cause.

The strategy is to avoid as many of these triggers as possible while still living a semblance of a normal life with a job, a spouse, and three beautiful children. I exercise to increase endorphin levels which helps lessen my symptoms. I try to sleep at regular times, but I also struggle with insomnia. I keep my schedule at a bare minimum whenever possible so that if something unexpected arises I will be able to absorb it without immediate breakdown. I avoid rich desserts and high-sugar foods, but I crave sweets hardcore when I am headed toward an attack. I keep my caffeine consumption at a steady level, and regularly go completely off of caffeine for periods of time in order to prevent a dependency on it to function.

Some triggers I simply cannot avoid. I live in northeast Kansas. We have weather systems that roll through regularly that send me to bed with fatigue, dizziness, and a complete inability to keep a thought in my head. I am a mom and a pastor, which means there are times that people need me that don’t fit nicely into my schedule. Sometimes I do too much. Especially on days when I feel good.

And sometimes I eat the pizza anyway, because life is short and what is one more migraine when I am going to have one later anyway?

But I digress. I was talking about my glasses. My red sunglasses that hold my hair so nicely and go with everything I wear, who possess a secret super-power. They cover my eyes when the sun is too bright on a cloudy day. They cover my eyes when someone installed a ceiling fan under a light and I have to stay in that space but want to avoid the instant nausea and dizziness. They cover my eyes when the light is the wrong frequency or has a short and blinks randomly. They are my shield against pain when I have a migraine but I have to function anyway.

Fun, cute, fierce, and one of the many coping mechanisms that make my life with chronic migraine just that much more bearable.

Coping where I can.


Being Real

I can’t tell you how many times I have been accused of “having it all together.”

“Ugh. If you only knew,” I think in response, while laughing it off.

But you don’t know, because I never told you.
I never told you I have chronic migraine.
I never told you I spend an average of 4 afternoons a week in a dark room hoping to rest enough to be able to participate in my evening ministry commitments.
I never told you I am terrified in new social situations, where I don’t know the people or the protocol.
I never told you that I need tons of affirmation before I really believe that what I just did was good enough.
I never told you that I stopped having babies because with three here and three miscarriages, I decided 6 pregnancies was enough and I didn’t want to risk more heartbreak.
I never told you that while I love my dad, his sexual addiction and life choices have wounded me so deeply that I am still discovering new places of pain.
I never told you that I get through the day by squeezing every drop of energy out of my reserve tank, and hope each night that I didn’t steal too much from tomorrow.

I also never told you these are the reasons I know that God is good, even in the hard things.
That “My grace is sufficient for you, because my power is made perfect in weakness,” holds special significance when all you feel is weakness.
That letting people help you blesses them.
That letting people in brings healing balm and comfort, even when it is scary.
That simply existing has value, that I am worthy of love even when I am capable of contributing nothing but breath.

And so are you.

When you see me, and my confident exterior, know that it covers so much.
When I sit with you and am quiet, it represents the deepest trust because I don’t have to be witty, or wise.

I don’t have it all together. I am guessing that you don’t either.
And that is ok.

Authenticity & self-acceptance.
How Refreshing