By: Brandy Garcia

My children, husband, and I have been living with chronic migraine for over 10 years. I am the one diagnosed with chronic migraine, but my disease affects everyone in my home. I always knew my pain affected my daily life, what I did not know was how much it impacted my husband and children. Sometimes my pain is so severe that I cannot even think about another human nevermind recognize what it is doing to them. Witnessing my husband suffer from a migraine turned my view of the disease around. It was not until this moment that I was able to comprehend how my migraine disease affects my family.

When the reality of the pandemic set in our family stress and anxiety skyrocketed. I went months without being able to receive preventative medications. I became increasingly tired and irritable. Most days, I was in bed with pain. Looking forward I saw no signs of relief; I saw nothing but pain in my future. Because I was in such a negative space, I missed so many important things that were happening around me. Recently I was able to get preventive care, which has helped me have more pain-free days. When my pain began to decrease, I noticed my husband complaining of head pain and light sensitivity. I immediately began looking for ways to help alleviate his pain. Turning off lights, ice packs, hydration, and minimizing sound are all things that help me during an attack. When I became the caretaker, I realized how much my chronic pain affects my entire family. I also formed a new appreciation for my husband and all that he does for me.

I can count on one hand how many times I have cared for my husband’s head pain. It is impossible to count how many times he has cared for my pain. The things I did for one or two days are the things he does every day. He never questions my pain, nor does he deny it. He makes sure I have all the things I need to make it through an attack. From hugs to medication and everything in between. He does not shy away from helping me or caring for our three young children. They have sat on the couch next to me in the dark switching out my ice packs too many times. Without my family’s love and understanding, I do not know if I would make it through the attacks. I needed my pain to subside to be able to see anything but myself. I was stuck in a negative mindset and I could not see a way out of the pain, anxiety, or depression. I am grateful for the pain-free days that allowed me to experience my disease from another point of view.

For so many years I assumed the pain only affected my physical and mental state. I can now see that being a caretaker is taxing and has mental implications of its own. This new view of my family has filled my heart with love and my mind with positivity. Knowing that I am not suffering from pain alone has allowed me to have compassion and appreciation for my family. Changing my mindset about my pain and acknowledging the support I have has lifted my spirits tremendously. My family has now become part of my treatment plan, their love and support are needed to help me through the hard days.

Brandy Garcia has lived with chronic migraine for over 10 years, but she doesn’t let that stop her. While raising three children, Brandy is pursuing a degree in psychology and writing poetry. She became a U.S. Pain ambassador to help others who have lived in pain, like her. She believes that people in pain can live a fulfilled and joyful life.