Psychology Module

Headaches and Self-Care

Psychology Module
Psychology Module, by geralt

Dear Son,

Yesterday I was down with a migraine most of the day.  I get them from time to time, and I know that there is a genetic component to them, as Oma gets them, and so do her sisters.  It is possible that when you get into your early twenties that you will be a prime candidate for migraine headaches, too.

Migraines are caused by blood pressure, vision problems, allergies, or caffeine addiction.  I’ve experienced them from all four causes.  If I forget to have coffee, if I eat the wrong chocolate, if I let myself get too stressed, or if I read too long without my glasses -brain meltdown!

When I do get them, I lose my entire day to pain.  If I don’t want to make it worse, I need to lay quietly in the basement in the dark for several hours, meditating or listening to soft music.  Anything else makes me feel like I have spikes through my eyes and an icicle driven through my skull – at best case scenario.  Cold sweats and vomiting are pretty likely, too.  Sometimes they last for days.

I used to work through migraines.  I thought it made me weak to let “a little headache” get between me and getting my work done.  And that made me a damned fool!  When you work through migraines, it stresses you more, and they migraine lasts longer.  And while you force yourself to work through them you are doing subtle nerve damage to yourself and adjusting your neurochemisty.  The migraine is a message from your body telling you that you need to stop and rest for awhile.  If you push through them, your body learns that it needs to send the message harder the next time, and so it lowers your pain threshold, making the migraines – and all pain – worse in the future.  You train your body to experience more and worse pain with each migraine you ignore.

Because I used to work through them, my average migraine would go on for five days, and my pain tolerance used to be so low that I couldn’t even bear loud noises.  I’d get one on average once every two weeks.  Tat meant about ten days out of every month I was barely functional, and pushing myself to work through a haze that made my work crappy, and made me miserable to be around.

Now that I listen to my body and rest through them, things are different.  My migraines last one maybe two days, an I get them maybe once every two or three months.  Usually after I have been careless with my caffeine intake (drinking too little coffee or too much).  I usually make up the lost work the next day, and it is good work, because I am relaxed.

In other words, I take the time to take care of myself, and it makes a huge difference.  And whether we are talking about migraines, illnesses, allergies, injuries, or anything else, I want that to be a lesson I pass on to you.  Take the time out to treat yourself right, rather than trying to macho your way through things.  You will be healthier, happier, and more productive for it.

With a clear head,

Dad

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