Stress helps you get that term paper done on time, or that project completed before it’s due. Stress can also come about when facing deep-seated fears or anxieties.
Sometimes, you’re not sure why you’re stressed.
Migraine headaches are similarly complex, little understood by neurologists. Many people who get migraines do so because of subtle food allergies. These aren’t the “puff up like a blowfish and stop breathing” types of allergies. Instead, they can cause your brain to have a sort of electrical cascade failure hours, days or even weeks after ingesting the trigger food.
And just for the record, if you’ve ever had a “bad” headache and told someone you were having a migraine, please don’t. A migraine headache is a massive neurological event, and they often lead to lying in a dark room and throwing up for hours or days. If you have a bad headache, say you have a bad headache. Don’t say you have a migraine. M’kay?
I am one of a minority of men who gets migraine headaches. I don’t know why, I just do. I’ve managed to eliminate most of them from my life because I found what seems to be my one and only food trigger: Aspartame. If you’re drinking diet sodas or eating “zero-calorie” or “reduced sugar” foods, you’re likely consuming Aspartame.
I urge you to stop. It’s a poison.
But beyond the discovery of Aspartame as my primary trigger, I still get a migraine from time to time. I don’t know for certain why, but I suspect a culprit.
I tend to be very laid back – unless we get to talking about something I’m really passionate about like history or politics or Doctor Who – and this is on purpose. I made a choice in my college years to be as laid back as I could because I didn’t like how I felt when I was stressed out. Also, I didn’t know it at the time, but I got migraine headaches sometimes when I was stressed. The puzzle of my migraines is ever-evolving, and I didn’t even know what they were until about 1998. But I had my first when I was 19, and they’ve been with me ever since.
So, stress. You see, I have doubts about my worth and quality. This is a result of being bullied in junior high and high school. Bullied or, as I prefer to call it, “condemned to the pits of hell and tortured.” Potato, potahto, right?
Anyway, when I do something that challenges this self-worth, I’m much more prone to get a migraine. And that brings me to yesterday. I did something that challenged the Demon of Doubt that lives inside my head. I did something that may drive him out, or at least shrink the size of his apartment significantly. It may seem small to others, certainly to other writers, but it’s a really big deal for me. I did something I believed I would never be able to do.
I submitted my novel, Bloodsun Rising to an agent, and asked them to represent me.
I have put my work before a professional writer who doesn’t know me at all, and asked them if I was good enough to be published. I put my work out there because, for the first time in my life, I believe I have something unique to offer the world at large. I believe, dear Demon of Doubt, that I am worth something. I matter.
Odds are really good that I will be rejected. Most writers send out dozens if not hundreds of query letters before hearing a positive result. Some never get representation, never get published.
But I did it. I took that first, irrevocable step into the larger world of writing and publishing.
Two hours later, I was lying in a dark room with a migraine. As I write this, I’m still in pain, still feeling the after-effects of that headache.