I had a migraine attack today morning, after a long time.
Migraine (from the Greek words hemi, meaning half, and kranion, meaning skull) is a debilitating condition characterized by moderate to severe headaches, and nausea. Approximately one-third of people who suffer from migraine headaches perceive an aura—unusual visual, olfactory, or other sensory experiences that are a sign that the migraine will soon occur.
I have a migraine with an aura. A multicolour wave dancing in front of my eyes is the warning I get when my migraine is about to start. I quickly consume a paracetamol, and then the headache is not that severe. In about an hour, I am back to normal.
This morning’s attack reminded me about an important lesson I learnt from my migraine attacks. These migraine attacks started while I was still a student in IIT. I suffered from Tuberculosis and sometime soon after that, these attacks started. Did the illness trigger it? May be, I am not sure. In fact, at that time I didn’t even know the name for the condition and I never told anyone about these bouts at that time.
As it happened, twice or thrice, I missed my lunch and had a migraine attack. So in my mind, I associated missing a meal as a trigger for these headaches. Those headaches were very severe. The aura, the temporary visual impairment, was really frightening. I wanted to avoid these at any cost, and hence I would never miss a meal on the regular time. This created a situation where I would drop anything in hand, an important assignment, a great lecture, any fun event. I would make a beeline for the mess and have my meal. This block made me lose out on things I would have enjoyed, but I dare not miss my meal.
Then came Himankan 82, when we took 240 students of IIT Mumbai to a high altitude trek in Kashmir Himalayas. In many ways, that was a landmark activity in my life. During the trek, I was responsible for setting up a camp at Liddarwat on the banks of river Lidder. That’s when I had an experience that freed me from this block.
We were on one bank of the river about 200 meters away. The camp was to be on the other bank of the river about a kilometre away. We had a ton of luggage to ferry across a bridge that didn’t exist. We had no porters or ponies. And we had just one day to do it.
We started work at 6 in the morning with just a cup of tea and a couple of biscuits. We worked for almost 12 hours. It was hard labour, carrying loads of upto 50 kgs on our backs. We had no time to stop for any meal. We stopped only when the camp was set!
And then I realized, I didn’t have migraine. In spite of working so hard, and not having a meal, I didn’t suffer from the headache or the aura. I realized that I had created that block for myself. There was really no connection between missing a meal and having the attack. It was all my creation. I thought there was a connection, and so I would not risk missing a meal.
That experience really freed me. I learnt a huge lesson. Now, any time I am tempted to put off something for any reason, I question the reasons. I try to find out if the reasons is really sound, or is it my own blocks, limitations, fears which are stopping me.