Anyone who has suffered from chronic migraines knows the feeling of not being able to think, just wanting to sleep and turn off the pain. For me, the headaches started in high school and continued into my early married years. They were sporadic but intense. I couldn’t tolerate light or noise. Sometimes I missed school and work. Then they were over in the morning, like a nightmare that passes but threatens to return.
I wasn’t aware of any proven medical cure for migraines (and still don’t know of one), but I wanted more than just pain management. So I chose a different path to healing. For those used to considering the mental component of their healthcare—whether through daily meditation or simply striving to practice gratitude or kindness in their day—my approach won’t seem foreign.
It occurred to me to think of the headaches as a bully and that I could face the bully before it attacked.
My daily practice of studying the Scriptures and a book by Mary Baker Eddy called Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures had shown me how a thoughtful, spiritual approach to life’s challenges can bring about reliable and positive results. I had learned that I didn’t have to accept pain or fear as an inevitable part of my life. This statement from Scripture gave me courage and hope: “God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
At one point when I was a mom with young kids, I realized I could no longer afford to lose any more days to these episodes. My prayers had helped me find relief and sometimes even quick turnarounds—but that wasn’t enough anymore. I wanted to see a complete end to these crippling headaches.
A recent Boston Globe article addressed the question, Can Migraines Be Prevented Without Drugs? Steven Krause, director of rehabilitation programs at the Cleveland Clinic’s Neurological Center for Pain, suggested deep breathing, better sleeping habits, and regular meals. But then he said, “Paradoxically, the more fearful you are of getting a headache, the more likely you are to have one.” This hypothesis resonates with my own experience.
I recognized that fear of these episodes was often lurking in my thoughts on normal days and that if I simply shoved the fear aside without confronting it, it waited for me. It occurred to me to think of the headaches as a bully and that I could face the bully before it attacked. My prayers were like a flashlight that revealed each step of what I needed to do to gain confidence and courage.
I began to see the fear as an impostor. It claimed that it could knock me down, but there was something growing in me—a spiritual strength—that was standing up for my right to painless, productive days. I didn’t have to be a helpless victim. I could fight back.
What happened next? I gradually became more confident and the fear began to fade. The headaches became less frequent and less intense. I recall standing in my kitchen one day feeling the familiar nagging pain trying to invade my day and then just as quickly it fizzled away. I felt so peaceful. I knew then that the migraines were over. The spiritual and mental work I had done to defend myself against this bully had brought it down to size: a big zero.
That was over a decade ago and I haven’t had a migraine since. This success has given me courage in other areas of my life to stand up to things that feel big and out of control, that threaten my peace of mind or health.
I hope my story gives you hope to face something big in your life, too. Your thoughts are so important. They’re powerful and effective. The best version of you is fearless, strong, confident, and whole.