Coping Skills · General chronic conditions · Migraine

On Being “Functional”

On Tuesday morning, I woke up and got up to go to the washroom. I was still in a daze from my sleep, but I felt off and not right.

Once I had gotten to the bathroom, I had woken up enough to realise why I felt funny. I was getting a big migraine.

My big migraines are not simply severe headaches, but I start off by getting tingly lips and legs, then very quickly lose the ability to speak and my balance goes. Sometimes my right leg also goes numb and doesn’t work, which means (especially with my lack of balance) that I can’t walk.

By the time I managed to get to the bedroom, I was struggling to walk and get words out. I could feel the headache blooming.

Since then, I have had a persistent migraine headache, as I often do afterwards for several days.

Life with a persistent headache, not to mention my chronic nausea and pain, means that I am often simply functional.

What does that mean?

Some days, I’m not functional, which means that I am just not able to do basic things like shower, or get out of bed.

Other days, I’m more than functional, so I can thrive! I can paint, go out for walks, clean, bake, socialise, and do things above and beyond the basics of existing.

Many days, I’m simply functional. I can get out of bed, but I can’t leave the flat. I can make myself some toast, but I can’t bake anything for fun. I can go on social media and (slowly) type out responses to people, but I don’t have it in me to socialise with anyone in person. I can watch TV, or read, but I don’t have the energy to go for a walk or paint.

I’m functional. I can carry out basic tasks, but I just can’t do much more than that.

And I won’t lie, it can be frustrating. It can be difficult to know that there are so many days where you are just not able to do more than the most basic of things. You are stuck in a limbo.

When I have my worst, non-functional days, I am not as annoyed with my body because I am either too tired to care, or have accepted that I am too ill to worry about getting out of bed.

On the days when I am simply functional, I want to do more, but I am stuck with the reality that I can’t. And some days, that is a hard reality to deal with.

But, I am ever the optimist, and whilst I believe in acknowledging negative emotions and talking about them (see above!), I also personally don’t want to dwell on them. So, I am choosing to try and see my functional days in a different light. Instead of hoping I could do more, I am going to try and remind myself of all the things I can do on those days instead.

And perhaps functional can be a positive word after all!

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14 thoughts on “On Being “Functional”

  1. Erin I think you do an amazing and inspiring job of managing your pain and discomfort with such a great attitude. On those functional days, just rest and let your body ride the wave until the next ‘feel’ good day and know that everyone is supporting you and in your ‘corner’ as you keep fighting your battle. x x x x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Erin, this is a brilliant explanation. I live in the “functional” realm everyday. What a great way of explaining the difference between functional & thrive. I must admit despite my positive outlook on life I really would like to have a few “thrive” days every now & again but you are right…functional can be a positive thing, especially when you’ve had a season of being “non-functional”. Love this post xx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great article. I too get migraines from time to time. Mostly severe headaches that go away quickly after medication and rest. Typically these don’t las more than half a day.
    I love your optimism during these experiences. Sometimes that’s all we have.

    Liked by 1 person

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