Miss Migraine: Self-imposed stress

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The Adventures of Miss Migraine is an ongoing column about my life with chronic migraine.

Hello there! How have you been?

Me? I’ve been teaching more and more (and more), writing my butt off, applying to a PhD program, and trying to balance everything without giving myself a stress-induced migraine every day.

I’ve only been partially successful on the balance bit, and mostly unsuccessful in the migraine arena. In fact, I have a migraine right now.

And a lot of the stress from struggling to find that balance and do the things that are important to me is self-imposed.

My boss at my one “real” job isn’t breathing down my neck. He has faith in my work and, as far as I know, is happy with my performance. I have my classes for the spring term all lined up. I submitted my application to Pitt’s English Lit PhD program last night. I’m still writing, albeit at a slower pace than I was in November. But I’m putting in the time and the effort, and I’m seeing the results of that.

These are all great things. But I have that voice in my head telling me that it’s not enough. That I need to do more. I am my own worst critic, and my own worst stressor.

My current mix of meds are working better than anything has in the past, but they aren’t perfect and they never will be. Even with that, it’s important to keep my stress levels as low as possible, because it’s a major migraine trigger. And more migraines generally equals more stress and less productivity.

I need to regularly assess my commitments and responsibilities and adjust them as necessary to get rid of anything that drains my emotional and mental gas tank. It’s been awhile since my last assessment, and I’m feeling the negative effects of it. 2019 is almost upon us, and I have big plans for it!

That means I’m long overdue for a self-care assessment. For each thing in my life, I like to ask the following questions:

  1. Why is this thing stressing me out? Is it an actual stressor or am I making it out to be worse than it is?
  2. Either way, is this something that’s important to me? Does it align with my values and goals?

If the answer to the second question is “No,” I need to cut it so I can spend more time doing the things that ARE important to me.

If it’s an actual stressor—like money—then I know I need to come up with a plan to address it or take care of it. If it’s something I’m freaking out about for no reason, I know I need to take a step back and breath deeply for a few minutes to remind myself that I’m not dealing with life and death here. And maybe read a comic book or two.

What about you? Do you do stress yourself out? How do you handle it?

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2 Responses

  1. Infiniteknott twitter says:

    I am super impressed by all you are accomplishing w migraine. It is cool you have taken on teaching so successfully. You have tremendous perseverance .

    • Kelly Lynn Thomas says:

      Thank you! It helps that my partner does most of the house work, and also that I’m in a pretty good place with migraine right now. I honestly don’t feel that successful at teaching yet, primarily because I don’t yet have a stable teaching job. All my courses are contingent on enrollment, which means if I don’t get enough students, the course doesn’t run and I don’t get paid! So long term I am hoping for that stability, and just trying to become the best teacher I possibly can in the meantime.

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