Time under water

You think of these migraines as something outside yourself.

When you wake from that afternoon hibernation, you think to yourself: “Is it gone yet?” No, it hasn’t gone yet. It rides you like guilt, bearing you down. It throbs and writhes just beneath the skin of your scalp, leaning against your eyeballs with all its elbows. It makes you weep when you accidentally look out of the window into the bright sunlight. It’s a monster, announcing itself early in the morning with that faint ache around the eyes, that nausea on an empty stomach, that thirst that you feel too late and now cannot be quenched in time to stop it.

When it eventually hits you, you will lose the day. You can’t hope to beat it; you just have to survive. Survival means what survival has always meant; curled into the fetal position in warmth and darkness, reliving any memories that can take you away from that place, from that pain. The migraine turns you into a monster: the vampire, seeking the darkness, sleeping during the day; the zombie, shuffling around the house when you become desperate for food. It wants nothing more than to make you a monster like itself.

When it’s especially bad, you pray that you might die (and sometimes you even mean it), but always you survive. Your mind keeps working all the way through, running away at its pace until finally you fall asleep, but that sleep is not refreshing. You wake up with ashes in your mouth, feeling as if your skull has been hollowed out. You are light on your feet finally, after that zombie shuffle you had before, but only because your brain still reels from the impact.

It doesn’t kill you, but it doesn’t make you stronger either; it only reminds you that you are at the mercy of the monster. It wants nothing; it’s just a reflection of the brain misfiring, somehow, somewhere. The monster is your own mind, and the only lesson it has to teach is that you are at its mercy. You’ll forget that lesson, of course. You always forget that lesson, until the next time, when you wake up with that faint ache around your eyes; and the monster, eating the precious day straight from your table.

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