When Life Is Not a Box of Chocolates: A Migraine Story

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
(2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

Once again, it’s confession time here on RTR… It has been some time since I’ve written a migraine post – in part because I have been struggling through a period of loathing migraine.

In some seasons, I embrace this part of my life as a gift – a useful pruning, a thorn in my flesh to keep me from becoming arrogant. A tool in the hands of the Potter as He shapes me.

In other seasons… well, let’s just say I can be a vine who talks back, clutching the discarded branches in resentful hands and questioning the Vinedresser’s skillful trimming. Such is the heart prone to wander…

There were a few weeks in which the severity (if not the frequency) was somewhat reduced. Yet one of the most vexing things about dealing with a chronic “invisible” illness is the residual symptoms. Even on days where the headache is mild, there is an ever-present fatigue. Some days it, like the headache, is pretty ignorable. Other days, I can barely function.

Last night, a mild migraine-like headache decided to roar into full throttle around 2 am. Because I am limited in the types of medication I can take, I had hoped to sleep it off but ended up fumbling for one medication around 2:15 and searching for another an hour later.

The crummy thing about migraine is the confusion which hallmarks each attack. I do not always know when the line between “ignore” and “take medicine” has been crossed. And this bleeds over into all sorts of other areas – like my hip problem which I ignored for over a decade before it, too, kept me awake nights.

But I am not here to complain. I’m really not. Today, after a pretty rough night and cancellations of highly-anticipated activities, I have been able to recover. In the past two days, I’ve slept a ridiculous amount even with last night’s interruption. And now after a nap and on the hangover (or postdrome) side of my latest migraine adventure, I feel wrung out and limp.

It is easy to feel useless when dealing with any chronic disease. It is so simple to look at all the great and wonderful things others do with their lives – homeschool moms who balance educating their kids with a career, ladies my age who have opened a business of their own, published authors, successful women. Supermoms who can raise their kids with one hand and serve at church while working full-time with the other.

It can be easy to compare…and to despair.

Another temptation is to watch my man come home exhausted after another 80 or more hour work week and feel it is my fault. If I could only bring home an income. If I could write a book worth publishing or if I had just finished college, maybe he wouldn’t feel such pressure to provide for us. For me.

But even in the aftermath of a pretty nasty neurological storm, I am thankful for my God. I am reminded my value is not in any worldly success – not even in what I do for the Lord. My value is in Him. 

He is my reward and my impetus for continuing. He and He alone comforts me – but He does not comfort me so I can feel cherished and complacent in my war against a stupid and frustrating illness.

No, He comforts me so I can comfort others.

So today, child of God, if there is any reason you feel despondent, alone, useless, or afraid, know you are not alone. Even if you do not know God, even if you have rejected His Son, Yeshua, or even mocked the very idea of His existence, there is hope.

No matter what, you are still not alone, and your rejection of Him does not guarantee His rejection of you. In God’s bewildering grace, there is always a chance for repentance. There is always a chance to turn to Him.

And He longs for you to come to Him. If you will surrender to Him, He will comfort you. And He will bring purpose to your affliction and give you an eternal hope so you may endure this life even if it grows more unendurable by the day.

Even still, I do not worship Him today because of the comfort He gives nor the hope I have, but because He is worthy. Even when I have nothing of worth to offer Him.



20 thoughts on “When Life Is Not a Box of Chocolates: A Migraine Story

  1. Amen. Powerful words. It’s really hard to praise the Lord when you aren’t feeling good. It’s hard to do anything when you aren’t feeling good. I had a few episodes with migraines.I remember needing a dark room, the nausea, unbearable fatigue. Just all round frustrating.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It is. Chronic migraine is a different animal entirely. There are so many mild-to-moderate pain days, cognitive issues, etc. that I can easily lapse into discouragement or self-pity. But our Lord is always faithful to remind me that even this can be used for His glory… or not. I just have to cooperate! 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Heather, I praise the Lord that through another episode through this wilderness, He has given you comfort and hope to share with others. It is preciously a blessing to me when I read your heart and your spirit that rests in Him. Blessings for a new day.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Gosh, Heather. Thank you so much for this post. This was me this week. Woke at 2 am 2 nights ago and then another one this morning. My migraines are mostly injury induced so when they become more frequent, I know I’m needing some massage therapy, but regardless of the reason for the onslaught, the end result is the same – needing lots of sleep and feeling pretty useless at least for a day or two. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your post because it’s easy to question my need for rest and ask myself “what’s wrong with you?” And I feel bad that my husband has to work so many hours because I can barely eek out a part-time job right now. (That’s a step up from many previous years!) But he also doesn’t “get” what’s wrong with me and can’t understand why I won’t just work full-time to take some pressure off him. That’s hard to handle. I’m so grateful for God being my guide and the one who tells me the truth of my worth – that it has nothing to do with what I can accomplish in a day or how many hours I can work (or not). And each day I can still do something to encourage someone else, work a little on my books and live in whatever He calls me to. Great reminder. Thanks again, and I’m praying for you!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Laura! I hate to hear you have migraines, too. Ugh! I know what you mean about questioning your need for rest for sure. I am fortunate that my husband understands, but about 14 years ago, we both had a pretty big wake-up call in exactly how much I tend to ignore things until they are really bad. I had viral meningitis but didn’t go to the hospital for 3 days. I am a little more aware of my own condition now, and my husband literally thought I was dying so he’s really good about understanding my need for rest. Better than I am, actually! I feel very fortunate for that. Thank you for the prayer and I’ll pray for your migraines, too! ❤


      1. Oh, ugh, so sorry! I hate the wake-up ones the worst, I think. So funny – I actually stumbled across migraineagain a couple of weeks ago doing my ongoing research. My specialist appointment is finally approaching, but mainly I’m FINALLY getting OK with telling people, “Sorry, but I’ve got to go to bed!” That one’s always been hard for me for some reason… But adequate sleep sure helps!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m so sorry to hear that. I had a rough headache week too. I’ve started taking Hyland’s Migraine pills and they have worked for me about half the time. Most of the time, my headaches are due to neck and shoulder injury, so sometimes I can keep them at bay in various ways. Thanks for the site! I’ll check it out. Hope you have a better week!

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Thanks, Laura! I think the weather is killing me, too. I’ve tried just about every remedy imaginable and no matter what, I just have clusters of bad weeks. I may try the Hyland’s though. If I’ve tried them, I can’t remember. The best educated guess anyone’s ever given me is that I sustained nerve damage from viral meningitis back in 2003. That’s when I started having daily problems.
        This week is starting out better. Hope yours is, too!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Heather, can’t tell you how much I appreciate your encouragement in the midst of this unique struggle of chronic migraines. I wish I could be there to give you a FREE upper back and neck massage. I do this some for my teachers at work and it’s amazing how much it helps.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Heather, I have several friends who suffer from chronic debilitating migraines and I just ache for all of you. This post brought tears because I can relate to when you wrote of other “super-moms” schooling and active, doing this or that and here we are……but it’s God perfect plan for me and you. Fatigue is a battle in and of itself. Most days I feel like a useless individual but I do believe that is the Evil One’s attack, feeding those thoughts to me. God is using our infirmities to give hope and praise Him in our storms which holds a greater impact than if we were perfectly whole. Xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I absolutely agree, Vivian! Our enemy wants to discourage us from giving God praise and glory. It can be so, so hard when dealing with long-term injury or illnesses. Have you ever read Bill Sweeney’s blog, Unshakable Hope? He truly inspires and amazes me. He has ALS and yet still finds ways to give God honor and glory.


      1. No, I haven’t but I’m on it now!! Thank you for letting me know! You have given me such good deep thoughts to ponder today and I’m so grateful. Thank you!🤗

        Liked by 1 person

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