I get migraines. They come in cycles, and I can go for a failry long spell without any, but once they start up it seems to last for a few months. Sometimes I can function as bit and sometimes like this week I am completely incapacitated and driven to the edge of madness by a relentless pain and strange set of experiences that verge on the hallucinogenic.
I've worked out that they are often stress-related. Well, they are actually the product of the internalization process that goes on after I have been in tense situations and have had to defend myself or have been spoken to in ways that hurt much more than I let on. I do a really good job of beating myself up and don't need much outside help and occasionally, and usually after a sustained period of feeling a little embattled, I have an internal collapse and then...
Oliver Sacks has a remarkable book on the subject. To read the book is to see oneself in glorious technicolour, page after page of stuff that is so on the money. He writes of 'an abnormal firing of neurons in brainstem nuclei on the basis of some intrinsic excess of sensitivity' and terms the essential features surrounding the myriad symptoms of migraine as disorders of arousal.
Stress-reduction, which is an oft-addressed part of migraine conversations, is a challenging thing. I do yoga which can be helpful, and I try to be mindful and pay attention when things start to get to me, but somehow I can never quite pinpoint the tipping point.
Ultimately for me, it comes down to finding ways not to take things so hard internally, and I think this also probably means facing up to the fact that I have put myself, or at least found myself, in environments where most of the people that I work with are conservationists and status quo-minded and my move is always forward, which almost always destined to lead to some kind of tension eventually. Not that I think one can live life without frustration or tension but I have some serious thinking to do about where I plant myself in life and the kinds of environments I work in.
Of course, none of that matters once the bloody thing has kicked in, its just 24-48 hours of fucking torture-strange body sensations, sleeplessness, hallucinations, vomiting, crying--a roller-coaster ride to nowhere.
I'm on the other side of it today, I feel like I've been hit by a truck but I'm relieved that it is over, and can enjoy the sunshine.