A few months ago I began having near constant migraines. As someone who had never suffered from headaches or migraines before I was initially taken aback. As the days went on and the pain continued, my thoughts grew anxious, and I became frightened of the “what ifs.”
What if something is really wrong?
What if I have brain cancer?
What if I am dying?
I tried to control these thoughts, but it was difficult, at times impossible. I was scared and scared to admit just how truly scared I was. My fears felt irrational, and yet they were very real to me. At times I felt crazy, and I worried that sharing with someone else exactly what I was thinking would lead them to the same conclusion.
So I didn’t tell anyone the thoughts and fears my migraines triggered in me, not even my husband. In addition to feeling foolish for my thoughts, I also believed I should be strong enough to deal with my health on my own. I didn’t want to be perceived as weak, but it was exactly how I felt.
After nearly a week of migraines my anxiety bubbled over, and I ended up in the urgent care center with chest pain and trouble breathing. After several hours and multiple tests the doctors sent me home with a clean bill of health and the diagnosis of anxiety.
I could no longer hide how fearful I was of the migraines and finally said the words, “I am scared” to my husband.
My husband was kind and gentle, knowing from his own health scares how truly frightening it is to not be well. He didn’t dismiss my anxious thoughts; he affirmed me. He helped me see how unlikely the “what ifs” were and encouraged me to take some next steps necessary to meet with specialists who could begin to help me.
Sharing my fears had the exact opposite effect I expected. I didn’t feel more frightened but less. And I felt stronger, not weaker.
Being vulnerable with my husband about how I am really feeling has become a source of strength for me. When my thoughts grow out of control I can rely on him to remind me of what is true about my health. When my migraines are particularly bad I don’t have to push through and pretend to be OK, which actually only makes them worse.
By being open with my husband about my thoughts and fears, I no longer have to face them alone.