“You’re too sick.”

Over the past two months I’ve been experiencing a major migraine flare up. It’s funny (not really) how much worse the bad times feel to me now that I’m getting a fair amount of (almost) no migraine time.

I feel out of sync with my job, my personal life, my responsibilities as a writer and freelancer, and even my body. I’ve been experiencing depression, low energy, brain fog, major difficulties getting out of bed, and, of course, crippling pain. On more days than I’d like to admit, I’ve gotten home from work, fallen into bed, and not gotten out of bed until the next morning.

I’ve missed social commitments, literary events I really wanted to go to, and three days of work (not to mention the days I’ve been late). I’ve failed to deliver articles I promised to write, books I promised to edit, and that novel I swore I would finally start working on again this month.

All of this has triggered the fear that someone—my boss, my editors, my friends, my clients—is going to tell me I’m too sick to continue doing what I’m doing, whether it’s writing for The Rumpus, editing the blog at work, or hell, even doing my job at all. I love everything I’m doing, so hearing that would be devastating.

I’ve heard it before. A few years ago, before I started taking Prozac, someone at work (very strongly) suggested I fill out the FMLA paperwork “just in case.”

For someone with a chronic illness, having FMLA paperwork filled out and ready to go in case of an epic flare up isn’t really a bad idea, because that would be one less thing to do while you’re in searing pain. But when the suggestion is delivered with a frown and more as a command than an option, it comes across less as helpful advice and more as a declaration of, “I don’t believe you can do this.”

Maybe that’s just me reading too much into it, but I hate being told what I am and am not capable of. I know my body. I know my migraines. And for the record, I had always remained squarely within our company’s sick time policy.

Although nothing really came of that incident, I’ve been worried ever since that someone with authority over me will take away something that I enjoy and value because I’m “too sick.”

And worse, I worry that it will be true.

Unfortunately, I can’t control my migraines. Yes, I can take certain steps to minimize triggers and keep myself healthy, but I can’t do anything about major triggers like the weather and hormonal changes.

That leaves me at doing what I can do to the best of my ability, and trying—though it’s so hard—to recognize my limitations and adapt accordingly. And if someone does tell me I’m too sick to do something? Well, then I’ll have to seriously evaluate whether or not they’re right, and be brutally honest with myself.

How about you? What’s your biggest migraine-related fear or worry?


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