(Pictured L-R: Dana, Courtney, Elizabeth and Amanda)
I was a bit apprehensive going into RetreatMigraine. Previous to the retreat, I had only been around a few people like me–people with chronic migraine. I wanted to meet more people my age. I’m not sure what for beyond empathizing with each other and realizing that there are people like me–something that I think we all yearn for–but that’s what I was wanting.
My angel mom, whom the retreat duly dubbed as my “caretaker,” came with me to the retreat. She was my safety blanket in a sea of people I mostly didn’t know–in a community of people that already seemed like they belonged. I felt like an outsider, joining a party that I wasn’t really invited to. Many people have been online friends for years because of their advocacy work.
During the first presentation, however, I knew I belonged. Jaime Sanders spoke about her battle with migraines and suicide. When I found Dr. Henry in mid-2015, I was suicidal. While there are differences in Jaime’s story and mine, I was overcome with emotion. I was sad, but I was also proud. We both survived. We’re still surviving.
RetreatMigraine taught me that healing is not linear. Acceptance of a chronic, possibly lifelong disease is not linear. I learned that I can and should be accommodated. I learned that I need (and want) to be a better advocate. I learned that there is so much more to learn.
I think most of all, I was reminded that I have a really great team in my corner. I am privileged to have parents that continually support me financially, emotionally, spiritually and everything-ally. I have a doctor–Dr. Henry–who is hopeful, kind and driven to find a way to help me. I am indebted to the Danielle Byron Henry Migraine Foundation and the Henry family for every sacrifice they have made in honor of those with migraine disease.