The bright sun takes on a menacing light; piercing my eyes and conspiring with shadows in an effort to disrupt the delicate neurological processes.

There is a paranoid constricting of the self; that which is safe ever shrinking and that which is perceived to be potentially threatening ever widening. It is the state of being in which absurd rituals are born; cracking the neck to fend of the possibility of migraine, not sleeping past ten, only eating unprocessed foods, tuning affects and emotions to a numb middle . . . elation and depression may be triggers.

In this state one learns to walk through life hesitantly; always bracing for the next step, planning an escape route in case that wretched beast chooses to rear its ugly head yet again.

A sense of freedom is lost, because at any given moment I may be on the precipice of another day in hell.

“I’m going to pray for you” she says as I writhe in pain. “Pray silently” I ask. “I don’t want to hear the words.” They only add to the weight, the burden; each word pressing down, threatening to take from me the last ounce of determination I have to go on living.

Hours in the hospital; nurses, doctors, nurse, doctor, “what do you usually take?” My words slur . . . I’m semi-delirious and my tongue feels numb and swollen.

“What do you usually take?”

“What’s your pain level?”


“Out of ten.”


Complex questions with no room for one word answers. Questions repeated, repeatedly answered, repeated again. Why are they doing this to me? Hours pass “what is your pain level now?” “Still a ten.” “Well, there’s not much else we can do” (read you are completely and utterly alone).

I used to have an idea for a novel in which people lived in constant fear of a mythical giant flying birdlike creature that could at any moment come soaring down and attack a person’s face with its razor sharp beak. At times it takes me awhile to recognize my own subconscious metaphors . . . they are often quite profound . . . and obvious.

We were once sent to insane asylums where we would walk around banging our heads against walls; moaning, writhing on the floor, screaming when exposed to light, hiding from noises . . . we saw visions, geometrical patterns, and even had hysterical blindness. We were not understood and so labeled, insane.

Today we are not locked up, yet we are given suspicious looks and tones when our lives shut down for a mere headache. Doctors seem to often wonder if we are pill seekers . . . after all, who else would be that excited about narcotics?

When I was sixteen I had another story idea in which a certain group of migraine sufferers begin to realize that beyond the pain, the blindness, the nausea, the weight was an expansive reality beyond our imaginations. Once the neurological storm was entered to its fullest we would discover a deeper reality to experience . . . the migraine would thus become not our curse, but our gift.

Dostoevsky, who suffered from epilepsy (a closely related syndrome), wrote of those moments before an epileptic fit as being so mystical, so blissful that he would gladly trade the entirety of his life for just one of them. I envy Dostoevsky’s bliss, yet like that 16 year old fantasy, still hold on to the belief that such exotic forms of suffering bring with them a deepening of the self and an opening to a reality that is . . . unique.