Dear Om Community,
As a migrainuer, I am quite aware of time. My guess is that most migrainuers are. Time spent with pain…. Time spent without pain. Sometimes I forget what life was like before the pain.
I find it ironic that we, as humans, are shaped by the sum of our experiences—yet all we have is this exact moment. When pain is your predominant experience, simply existing can become exhausting. Even though this is a reality for so many of us, it can be a difficult concept to fully grasp unless you have experienced it, or live with someone who does.
Before I continue, I want to clarify that I am grateful for my migraines. So much of my life would be different without them. They have given me a different way of viewing life, motivated me to go on a journey of self inventory and discovery, allowed me to connect with people all over the world that I never would have known otherwise, and last but not least, they have given me the power of experience.
I grew up with headaches. “Sinus headaches,” headaches from stress, but when I got to college, my headaches became more frequent. A few Advil and cups of coffee later, I was almost as good as new. Then something changed. All the Advil and cups of coffee in the world could not touch the pain.
Let’s take a trip back in time…
It was my third year of college, I had just transferred to a different school, and everything was brand new! A couple months later, one of my roommates, Kara, invited me to the Plant City Strawberry Festival in Florida. Of course I had to go. We left Friday, both of us ready to stuff our faces full of strawberries.
And the fun begins!
The headache started that Friday afternoon. I did my regimen of Advil and a Starbucks, but to no avail (I even ended up spilling the coffee all over some clothes at Banana Republic because of my migraine). I wasn’t worried, though. Tough headaches need sleep, so I went to bed and expected to wake up the next day refreshed and headache free.
I felt worse than the day before. But you can’t keep me away from food, so I went to the festival despite my physical state. Probably not the best idea, in hindsight. I was popping Advil like candy. We saw a concert at the festival and I thought I was going to pass out from the pain, but I held my resolve and kept going. By the end of the day, I was zombie Sarah. Kara and her family went to dinner, and I slept. I thought for sure I would be better by Sunday.
The whole car ride back to school was a blur. All I could do was put my head in my pillow and wait. That night, the music therapy society that I was a member of for school was hosting a fundraiser, and I was supposed to help. I knew I wouldn’t make it. Singing and serving food at a fundraiser sounded like a depiction of hell at that moment. I had no idea that I was having my first migraine.
When I told the society’s president why I could not attend, her response was “Are you contagious? Just a headache then?” –I was furious. I tried to explain my situation to her, but she did not have her listening ears on. Along with my first migraine came the quick realization that many people did not understand the pain I was referencing when I said the word “headache.”
After that, my headaches lasted for months at a time, ebbing and flowing like waves. School became difficult. Living became difficult.
When I was diagnosed with migraines, I felt a wave of relief! Finally!
My migraines became manageable for a while with the help of my neurologist and triptans. But over the years, my stress began to accumulate, work became increasingly demanding, and life kept moving.
And then, I met Greg--fiancé and love of my life.
We took a trip to Europe last August where Greg proposed. It was magical…Except for having a migraine almost every day. These chronic migraines started before we left for Europe, but increased in severity and frequency during and after the trip. I had to cut back at work. I began doing yoga all the time to try and negate the continuous stress on my body. Greg became tired and worried (without letting me know). I became exhausted and confused. My migraines slowly took over our lives.
Then Greg and I had an idea that changed our lives.
We quickly saw that there is a gap in our society. So many people experience a life altering amount of migraines, but society as a whole still does not understand—it’s not just a headache.
We hope to fill this gap with Om.
Migraines are isolating by nature, and without the incredible support of Greg, my family, and my friends, I don’t know where I would be today. I understand that I am incredibly blessed to have a wealth of support. But even for those of us fortunate enough to have the support of the people around us, living with migraines is not easy. I can only imagine how difficult it would be to stay strong without my network of support.
Through months of self reflection, I have realized that I need to show myself the love I hope to show others. In taking care of myself, listening to my instincts, knowing my limits, I am able to strive toward my best self.
I encourage you to do the same. The way we love ourselves is the way we will love the people around us.
I finally realized that I am one person, but also a part of humanity. When I die, humanity will continue to exist without me, but it will change. Humanity is vast, but is composed of individuals like you and me. When we come together as a community, we become larger than ourselves, which is a beautiful thing.
By helping and loving myself, I am helping and loving a piece of humanity. And when I am able to love myself, I am able to love humanity freely.
We are stronger together.
“I acknowledge the power and beauty within you and myself.”
Sarah, Om Founder