On the last day of Mental Health Awareness Month, I'd like to highlight the importance of mental health in conjunction with chronic pain/ illness/migraine.
I can say that having found the migraine community shortly after this young woman's death, I was profoundly and deeply affected by Melissa's story.
Having progressed to daily chronic myself a relatively short time before, I was struggling to deal with the pain, the stigma, and still searching for answers that at the time didn't exist or weren't widely known.
I approached the 3 year mark of my daily chronic migraine existence with trepidation because of Melissa's story, wondering what might be the day I gave up hope...and although I passed it with some relief that I hadn't harmed myself, I WAS haunted by the "It could have been me" thoughts, as I did have frequent thoughts of suicide and even a plan on a few occasions.
I'm glad to say I got help for the crushing depression I felt then; although it's by no means a cure, it does help me cope exponentially better.
Many of us are still lost there, though.
During a livestream Q&A I did on Chronic Illness on The Mighty, I touched on the story of Melissa's loss and how it affected me although I'd never had the chance to know her, and included her in my reasons that I feel so strongly about stressing the importance and relation to mental health and chronic pain/illness.
She still is a large reason that I do this.
My others are the my own experiences, my family, and the countless others who are in the trenches fighting this battle at any given time.
Yes, migraine can kill. It kills through depression, though loss of hope, and through suicide.
Yet it still isn't seen as the monstrous disease that it is.
I want to help change that. For Melissa and for every one of us.
"The migraine community is deeply shaken by this young woman’s suicide. Those who knew her are crushed by the loss of a vibrant, warm-hearted, loving person who was only 22. And I believe that those who didn’t are haunted by the niggling thought, “It could have been me.” Even the chronic migraineurs who haven’t seriously considered suicide know the feeling of not wanting to live like this anymore. It is not that we want to die, but that the daily struggle of chronic migraine feels like it is too much to bear and the light at the end of the tunnel often seems nonexistent."
(Quote from The Daily Headache)
Photo from BrainWreck Rebels Melissa Dryer Foundation