Every few weeks, for a few hours or a few days, my life is interrupted by migraines. This has been the narrative for my whole life. I have learned to persevere and never let my migraines define me or control my dreams.
Recently my deep sleep was shattered, yet again, by the familiar pressure and blinding pain and I did what I have been conditioned to do: just make it to the bathroom closet and find my medication. The next few hours were another familiar journey of attempted meditation to crawl through the pain until the medicine’s numbing gift could kick in. Queue the heady combination of the “migraine hangover”, the dulling side effects of the medication. Exhaustion, interrupted word recall, difficulty multi-tasking, all pushing against my brain in a depressed (not depressing) state. It was a Thursday. I had a full day of scheduled patient appointments and the running of a busy orthodontic practice ahead of me. My only thought was to put one foot in front of the other. I breathed in the slowness and embraced it. I surrendered to the realization that on that day I wasn’t going to make any earth-shattering discoveries or create new business algorithms. I decided that on that day I was going to do only one single thing at a time and be present just for what I needed to be. No less, but definitely, no more.
What resulted was one of the most beautiful, calm, gifts of a day that I have felt in a long time. My brain did not allow multiple narratives or conversations. Despite my lifting fog, I could only clearly concentrate on the immediate. Each person I interacted with got my full attention and everything else was nonexistent. It was beautiful.
I had three important realizations on that day. Each one a gift.
#1) I am really good at multi-tasking but the high I get from slashing boxes off my To-Do list is a fleeting jab of Dopamine and does not compare to the fulfillment I get from focusing and being present in one moment at a time.
#2) Even when a day can seem like a loss or my instinct is to “just make it through” there is always an opportunity for learning, for appreciating, for receiving insight and for feeling alive.
#3) My heart sings when I am kind and forgiving to myself and honor the needs of my body. There are no awards for beating myself into the ground and there are no awards for creating unrealistic goals but the rewards of self-care and positive self-talk are long lasting.