In addition to tension headaches and migraines, I have two other things wrong with me. I was diagnosed with asthma when I was six. I have PCOS as well, diagnosed when I was 14. The migraines were the last diagnosis I received. I don’t think you can look at me and tell me I have these conditions.
I’m also near sighted. This is something someone can see when I put on my glasses to drive or see the front of a room. PCOS has some physical manifestations. I have some extra body hair and painful cramps during shark week. The other three weeks of the month it’s invisible. Asthma is only a problem in the winter and manifests as a pretty horrific cough when the temperature drops.
Migraine is both visible and invisible. For those who are unfamiliar with me and my array of facial expressions, they will have trouble picking up on the subtle cues that give me away. It’s invisible because I make it invisible; I try to hide when I’m feeling unwell. It has also become my neutral facial expression. For those who do not know what my I-don’t-have-a-headache face looks like, there is no way to tell. Those pain free moments are so far and few in between not many people get to see it. For those who have seen the spectrum know. It’s visible to them. It’s written across my face as plain as day for those who know.
It’s invisible for those who are ignorant of my condition. It’s because it’s assumed that I don’t have a headache all the time, that I shouldn’t. Someone assumes that I am fine and look like this instead of I’m not fine all the time.
It’s not until after my head begins the assent to higher levels of pain, a 6 is when my face begins to express it’s discomfort. A 7 when my face begins to contort in pain. Anything beyond an 8 and I’m left in tears, crying and scrunched up in pain. It’s impossible to ignore then. But that’s when I find a safe place, return to bed and wait alone. No one ever sees an 8 or 9 or even a 10.