Beautifully Catastrophic

By Mia Maysack, PNN Columnist

Whatever I do, there is going to be detrimental repercussions to my health and I do it anyway. Because if I didn't, I may as well be dead. At least in the sense of the quality of life I'd be lacking.

I have a love for creative expression through dance. As a young girl swimming and diving were my passions, but after a freak accident in the water gave me bacterial meningitis and chronic migraine, I found another passion in the form of dancing.

Over the years, my ability to dance had lessened and getting a nerve disorder diagnosis was another wake-up call. But who's to know what the future holds. It’s wise to make good use of this gift while still able.

I am lucky to get a few solid moments of dancing and when I get to the point of breaking a sweat, heightened pain is just about guaranteed as a result.

What's a person to do, if they can’t do what they love? For me, the answer has been to pursue it at a lighter extent, a handful of times per month as opposed to every day as it was in the past.   

My movement has evolved into a demonstration of my ailments --- to acknowledge and release them, while providing outside space for them to breathe. We all have unique traits and possess individualized talents that I believe were given to us as gifts to provide back to the world. 

I submitted this creative dance video to the 4th Annual Migraine Moment Short Film contest. It’s dedicated to those mourning the loss of who they were or wanted to be before becoming a Pain Warrior.

Prior to the making of this video, there was a solid month of resilience training. After recording it, I crawled into bed and rocked myself in response to the excruciating pain induced by dancing.  

The pain was horrendous and lasted for days, but I felt gratitude to have had even just a few moments to do something that brings me joy. I worked hard for that extra Spoon to be able to continue on through discomfort. It’s empowering to reclaim a part of myself in the midst of what can feel like broken pieces.   

A lot of us have had to give up things we've enjoyed. That’s another realm of grief that ordinarily doesn't make it to the surface, because we're fixated on just getting by one moment at a time. That alone takes much of our energy. 

It's imperative that we not allow our ailments or conditions to become our identity. I no longer look at it as if I “make myself sick” by engaging in this release. I already am sick. And that's not my fault either.   

I've found when I take conscious time to engage in meaningful activities that aren't revolved around being sick that there’s an impactful sense of replenishment. 

Some of us have been dealing with our battles for longer than we even want to think about or have situations that are expected to be incurable or life-long. What if we shifted our focus on what we can do right now? 

A lot of odds may be stacked up against us but we need not underestimate the power within an adequate self-care approach and routine. Although we've fallen down 7 times, we must rise up 8 -- and as many more times it takes.

It's important to mourn our losses so we may then find the strength to move on from them. It provides the opportunity to re-invent ourselves, which in my experience has been necessary more times than I'm able to count.  

I've referred to my chronic conditions as a thief. These illnesses have taken away jobs, social engagements and the concept of commitment. It's devastating to pick up the broken pieces of a shattered life, especially when it happens repeatedly.  

Alas, the good news is that our mindset is entirely within our power. What can be done with this pain, how will it be productively used?

There will always be those that’ll suggest I shouldn’t ever wear headphones, blast loud music or engage in any sudden movements. But I’ll never give it up!!


Mia Maysack lives with chronic migraine, cluster headaches and fibromyalgia. Mia is the founder of Keepin’ Our Heads Up, a Facebook support group, and Peace & Love Enterprises, a wellness coaching practice focused on holistic health.

The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of Pain News Network.