I’ve suffered from migraines for most of my life. They seemed to be random and frequent at first, but as the years went by I noticed patterns to them, that there were certain things that are likely to trigger them. I suspect that every long-term sufferer has their own such list. I keep careful track of what I was doing prior to each migraine to spot trends and avoid risky activity. It’s worked very well. I’ve been able to reduce my attacks to a bare minimum — usually twice a year, once at the end of summer and once at the end of winter.
Migraines are a pure, I-beg-you-to-kill-me-now hell that I go to great pains to avoid provoking. So why do I sometimes feel such nostalgia for them?
A couple of years back, I posted a link to the image above and said:
I just came off of a 36 hour migraine trip. It’s not completely gone yet, but tonight I’ll sleep normally, I can tell. I call them migraine “trips” because that’s what they are. Psychedelic, consciousness-altering experiences strongly resembling the effects of peyote in important ways. Migraines, however, also include pure physical and perceptual torture in various interesting forms.
Once the storm passes, I am at peace. A calm so profound that I only very rarely experience it any other way. I enjoy this part tremendously. It almost makes up for the parts where I wish I would die.
My major triggers include drinking beer or wine, waking up at a very different time than usual, my inner ear getting very cold, certain kinds of music, and orgasm (but only when a partner is involved. Masturbation isn’t risky; Eris is a cruel mistress.) Fortunately, none of these are sure-fire. A wrong wake-up time gives about a 75% chance of an attack. If I have a beer, it’s only about 50%. If I come, the chance is about 5% and so most times I’ll risk it.
Everyone’s migraine experiences seem to vary. My mother, for example, can drink wine but can’t eat freshly baked bread. Her migraines also happen without any headache at all. You might be tempted to call her lucky on that, and I suppose she is, but really the headache is not the worst part. If it were, then handling migraines would be a whole lot easier.
Migraines are not headaches. For one thing, they can kill you. A severe headache usually comes with them, but not always. Personally, I can never pick out which symptom I hate the most. Is it the nausea and vomiting? (Vomiting in the middle of a migraine doubles your fun!) The hot and cold flashes? The incessant sweating? The inability to tolerate even the slightest amount of sound or light? The visual effects and hallucinations? The fact that the tiniest physical movement, even my own pulse, hurts? The synaesthesia? The inability to sleep? The fact that I get stupid? Not just a little stupid, but short-bus, can’t-count-my-thumbs stupid. I think the thing I hate the most is that time slows to a near standstill. When I have an attack, you’ll find me in a closet, under a desk, or anywhere that’s small, dark, and muffled. I’ll be counting the years until I am released from the clutches of the waking nightmare.
Migraines are downright psychedelic, but not in a pleasant way. Interestingly enough, psychedelic drugs can be an effective treatment for them.
They are nothing anybody would ever want, so why do I feel nostalgic? It’s all in my quote. It’s the recovery period. As hellish as the actual attack is, the recovery nearly makes up for it. The peace and calm that washes over and soothes me is almost like a physical substance. It’s like being in the womb. Oneness. Paradise. Euphoria. I’ve had mystical, sexual, and drug experiences that have approximated it, but nothing that equals it. It’s as if all the good and pleasant experiences that I had been deprived of during the attack were saved up and given to me all at once, with interest.