Marta | Toronto, ON
“I started having migraines when I was five years old, growing up in Poland. I remember missing school, lying at home in bed with the lights off. Sick, weak, vomiting. I was so angry with myself for being sick. I didn’t want the attention. I didn’t want to be taken care of. My younger brother had kidney failure and I always wanted to be the healthy one, the strong one, so that my parents wouldn’t have to deal with having two sick children.
And so, as I got older, I learned to hide my migraines. I pushed myself so hard. I wouldn’t seek preventative treatment, I just took painkillers and dabbled in alternative medicine looking for a ‘cure.’ I really lived in a very unhealthy way. I was pretending to be a normal, healthy person who doesn’t experience pain. It was a constant battle to maintain this outward appearance of invulnerability.
“I had a very dynamic career in communications, I got married in 2007, and then, in 2008, I was forced to leave my job because my migraines were so debilitating.”
And I was so ambitious. I had a plan on what I wanted to do in my life and I didn't want anything to stand in my way, especially headaches. But the migraines got worse and became chronic just as I was starting to have real success in my life. I had a very dynamic career in communications, I got married in 2007, and then, in 2008, I was forced to leave my job because my migraines were so debilitating.
My life and even my marriage became defined by my disability. Every decision we made – how we lived, where we lived, what we did – was based on my limitations. The dynamic in my family changed as well. Somewhere along the way, my younger brother became like an older brother to me, as though he knew that it was his turn to be the strong and healthy one. To help me.
And, finally, I was ready to be helped. I connected with two truly amazing doctors here in Toronto, I got on a clinical trial, I went to a three-week migraine treatment program in Ohio, and I actually started to experience headache-free days. I learned to let go of some of my anger and accept that I’m a person living with migraine disease. There was a time when even the word ‘acceptance’ made me angry. It was a long journey to get here, but it’s incredible to be hopeful again, to not be scared of the future, and to have dreams again.”