Migraines have created a ‘Bob Wiley’ level of anxiety

Who is Bob Wiley you ask?

What About Bob was my cult movie.  My friends and I in our early 20’s must have watched that over 30 times, usually very late at night.  So when I think of mental health, I think of Bob Wiley.

Migraines have made me into a version of Bob Wiley at times.  The anxiety of wondering when a migraine is going to come, can be ridiculously hindering.  I mentioned in my original post that the high majority of my migraines come on after exiting a car, usually late afternoon or evening.  Being the mom of three great kids ages 8-14, it is safe to say I have a very nominal adults without kids social life.  So, when I do get to go at the very least, to dinner, it’s in the evening, and since I live in the country, I don’t walk to dinner, I drive, so that’s pretty good ammunition for a migraine .

I’d like to take a guess that the amount of times my husband and I have gone out to dinner by ourselves over the past ten years is around 25 times.  When I asked him how many times he thought we went out by ourselves over the last ten years, he said 8.  We’ll split it down the middle and go with ’17’.  We average 1.7 times a year going out by ourselves.  As you can see, we totally take that whole ‘make a date with your spouse once a week’ thing seriously.  No, all kidding aside, it just doesn’t happen too often.  We are both very lucky to have such flexibility in our schedules that we are able to hang out and go to lunch, or do fun stuff like kayaking during the day sometimes when the kids are at school.  Of our ’17’ dinners out though, I can recall many where I was sipping my wine looking across the table at my husband through my migraine kaleidoscope eyes.  I mean good dinners out too!  I love my food, and feeling a little numb and not able to fully see and enjoy my flaming cheese and fresh pitas, or my bruschetta, not cool migraine fairy, not cool.

Once migraines became a part of my life, and showed how they can intrude on normal everyday events to rare outings as adult with no kids, I became anxious.  Anxious of when were they going to come?  I tried to track down what I’ve eaten, what I’ve drank, hormones, sleep patterns, there has never been a consistent antecedent to my migraines.  Hence, the anxiety.  I mean, if I knew putting away three pieces of pepperoni pizza and a couple of glasses of wine were a trigger, at least I’d weigh in if it were worth it!!  But not knowing when one was coming made me nervous each time I got out of the car to go somewhere.  I can recall so many times walking up to a restaurant thinking ‘Oh man, you’ve got to be kidding me’ as I had hoped to elude one.

I look back on my cult movie What About Bob days,  and I do not recall any anxiety.  Normal worry, stress, those things, yes, but anxiety, no.

Now, I can recognize myself in some of Bob Wiley in the clip below from the movie (thankfully not all of the clip!)  Warning:  if you have young people ears around, there is some swearing at the end of the clip.

So, what now?  When I wake in the middle of the night, or first thing in the morning, I usually have a sense of worry.  This is what I refer to as my anxiety.  It has gotten significantly worse at times, lasting through the day, or a heightened overall sense of uncomfort or worry, and also at times, it has gone away.  So unlike worry when you’re knowing what you’re worrying about.  That’s easy.  This type, I have to chase down.  Try to catch it and figure out if it’s really even something real that should be ‘taking up space in my head’.  (A saying from a family member I heard over the summer and really loved.)

Something that’s helped me when I wake in the night is to make a list if there are things I’m worried about that I need to do the next day.  Another thing, and this is random, I picture a ream of white copy paper.  Kinda fanned out, and I picture myself putting my hand on it, feeling how smooth and cool it is, and how entirely blank it is.  I use this when I really can’t get back to sleep, and I don’t know why.  It gives me a good excuse to focus on really not thinking about anything.  White paper is boring.  Perfect to fall back asleep to.

Something that helps me when I wake up in the morning with that dull ache of worry is laughter.  I woke up a few weeks ago at my ungodly hour of working out on a Thursday, that sense of worry looming for no known reason.  My husband made a crack about one of our many cats and how this cat had been ‘licking his cud’ all night and kept him up.  I cracked up.  Our cats and animals are constant humor around here.  The laughter, because it was real (hey, fake may even help), alleviated the anxiety tremendously and immediately.

The other thing that helps me in this lovely strange battle is working out.  Mind you, I, like everyone else in the world would rather sit down over working out any day.  But, going through the motions of working out, especially when you don’t feel like it (let’s face it, there’s never a time where I think ‘hey, the gym sounds fun!’) turns into a routine that feels weird if you aren’t doing it.  My anxiety decreases to the point of almost zero after each and every workout.  That’s my medicine.  Last Monday, Labor Day, I was in a funk.  It took until the afternoon to finally admit to myself, I needed some exercise.  Went for a big bike ride, came back.  Normal self.

I have a feeling this anxiety crap will always be lingering, saying ‘good morning’ as I wake up some days, saying ‘let’s stay up’ when I wake up in the middle of the night.  But, as I continue to find things that work to put my migraines at bay, in combination with find things that help make the dull ache of worry dissipate, I think I’ll continue to sail on through life doing ok!

I sure hope my friends from my What About Bob cult enjoyed laughing at these clips as much as I did!

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