Making Memories That Outlast Pain

June 3, 2019

Image Credit: Sarandy Westfall

My love of photography began when, as a 7 year-old, I won a little 35mm camera for selling the most Girl Scout cookies in my troop. I began collecting any camera I could find, from family heirlooms to garage sales, and taking photos of everything and everyone, including my poor cats. Making memories has always meant the most to me and, along with journaling, nothing captures a moment like a photo.

However, adjusting to life with chronic migraine has been an exhausting and demoralizing experience for many reasons — pain management, doctor visits, working full time, and not wanting to become a burden to friends and family. There haven’t been many memories I want to revisit but the worst part is that the memory-making opportunities and mental real estate has become increasingly limited.

Having spent the last year and a half in the pain and haze of constant pain, I’ve finally come to realize that just because I’m not “living” doesn’t mean that life isn’t passing me by. Memories are out there waiting to be made and it’s become clear to me that if I don’t go out there and capture the moment, the only memories I’ll have are the ones I’m trying to forget. Living has become the goal and with it my new personal mantra — if I’m going to have a migraine why not at least enjoy myself in the process?

“Understanding the challenges you face with your illness and planning a life despite them may be one of the healthiest decisions you will ever make.” — Lisa Lopen

Of course it’s not always possible to fully function, much less enjoy myself while suffering through a migraine. Having the knowledge that one night’s activity might send me into a week flare certainly helps me decide what is worth doing.

That said, the idea of making a positive memory, especially a photo, helps motivate me to make the best of it when I can. And for the days when I can’t leave my bed, I’ve always got a photo album of memories to remind me that this will pass and, eventually, I’ll be able to get out there and make more.

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