Mar
072016

The Migraine Cave: Where I’ve Been Lately

I’ve been getting some lovely emails from folks asking, “Kate, where’d you go? Why has your blog gone dark?”

So here I am to explain my absence and let you know what I’m up to next.

As some of you may have guessed, I’ve been having an especially rough time with my migraines. In the last half of last year, I had an eight-week continuous one, which was as unpleasant as it sounds. Hospital visits. Lots of needles. Very little fun. For months after that, they were still happening daily.

I’ve been slowly phasing in my return to the world (self-care LIKE A BOSS) and I’m finally in a place where I feel ready to share what’s been happening to the world at large.

I’m coming to terms with the fact that, while I hope I never have another eight-week one, my migraines are just a cycle that I manage. Every time I have a bad bout with my migraines, I learn new tools to manage them. This time around, I learned how important it is for me to keep a strict schedule of Botox treatments (there’s me with the empty bottle post-treatment last week).

migraine glamBecause my migraine pain has been so constant, I’ve been extremely sensitive to light. I’ve had to seriously limit my time on the computer and on my phone because the screen light can aggravate the pain after a bit.

My sensitivity to light has lessened now, but I had to declare bankruptcy on my email and social media communication for a few months. While that was frustrating, it made room for lots of journaling, snail mail, and offline conversations. I totally get the value of taking a social media fast, despite mine being less choice-filled.

Even though this experience has been super challenging at times, I’m OK. I’ve been getting great care and I’m in surprisingly great spirits. Some days, the pain has been really distressing; other days, it’s more manageable.

Most days, I’m actually quite joyful. Joy has been my most persistent feeling. It’s been my buddy. The joy is all wrapped up in gratitude too.

I’m grateful for my awesomely supportive friendship network. I’m grateful for my empathetic and outside-the-box-thinking neurologist. I’m grateful for grocery delivery, a freezer full of ice packs, and that my cat has decided the lap sits are his new favorite thing (so cozy for this New York winter).

Now that I’m emerging out of the migraine cave, I’m enjoying being more social on a small scale. Long phone calls. Friends over for tea. Leaving my apartment (and documenting my little adventures on Instagram).

Interacting more with the world has made me realize that many of us don’t know how to talk about pain – emotional or physical. When a loved one is experiencing pain, we often don’t know what to say or how to respond. Sometimes we say the wrong things, like offering unsolicited advice about treatment or saying ‘I understand’ when we’re not sure we really do.

I’m lucky that most of the people around me have a superpower: empathy. They know how to be emotionally present and engaged with me, without trying to fix or change me. They know how to be gently curious about my feelings and experience, without interrogating me about what’s been happening. It’s made all the difference in mediating how isolating this health sabbatical has been.

empathy is everythingAnd unlike Spiderman’s superpowers, empathy is one most of us can learn.

So here’s what I’m working on next.

Spending so much time alone with my thoughts has solidified a lot of things for me. It’s made me clear on just how much I want to help people communicate in the ways that lead to the connection they really crave.

There’s a reason #SquadGoals and #RelationshipGoals are meme-worthy. They speak to much of what we want out of life: community and connection.

Behind the scenes, I’m doing a lot more writing on empathic communication and strategies for making all relationships (not just romantic ones) more full of connection.

I’m also working on rolling out several Tea & Empathy workshops in the Spring and Summer (in the Northern Hemisphere). I am obsessed with these Tea & Empathy parties because of the feedback I get. After every party, people gush about how heard, understood, and less alone they feel. And boy, do I want more of those feelings in the world.

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen photos from these events in the past. Now, I’m scaling them up. If you’re on my email list (sign up at the top), you’ll hear about these events first.

Can’t wait to have more tea and more empathy with you.

Warmly,
Kate

P.S. I was interviewed by the ah-mazing Tiffany Han on her podcast, Raise Your Hand and Say “Yes!” We talked about pleasure, curiosity, and how to find what delights you. The interview got released in the middle of my eight-week migraine, so I wasn’t able to share it. So here it is for your listening pleasure.

SHARE:
© Copyright 2015 Kate McCombs. All Rights Reserved.
Design by Rebecca Pollock + Development by Brandi Bernoskie