Friday, June 10, 2016

Migraine, Bad Behavior, and Alzheimer Insights

I was walking home following an after dinner, mile-long stroll. The weather was hot and humid, and about a quarter mile from home I began to experience a migraine aura. My migraines are not incapacitating;  I don't suffer throbbing, intense pain.  But my perceptions go off-kilter, I sometimes feel nausea, and, about 30 minutes after the aura first appears, my head aches. The ideal response is to take ibuprofen immediately and then relax in a darkened room as the first symptoms appear, but this time I needed to walk a distance in heat and bright light that, in my migraine-induced perception, stretched interminably ahead. By the time I reached home I felt very sick indeed.

As I was in the grip of more severe than usual migraine symptoms, I lost all semblance of a Christian determination to walk in the love that covers a multitude of sins. It also became evident that I'd definitely been keeping a record of wrongs (and you'll remember, 1 Corinthians 13 says love does not do this). The least grievance I suffered from others unleashed a torrent of tearful, outraged words. 

It isn't that my loved ones were completely innocent of any missteps.  But, in pain and feeling vulnerable, I lost the ability to be wronged in a way that honors the Lord.

I was trying to explain to a friend what had happened to me, and heard myself say, "It was a little like having Alzheimer's."

Bingo!  My mother's bad behavior, explained.

My incredulity over Mom's anger toward me doesn't come from a conviction of my own virtue.  I know I often emit an aura of pained longsuffering rather than loving empathy, and wouldn't that be difficult to bear?  It's just that Mom gets so spitefully, vindictively angry about any wrong I commit, large or small.  This is so inconsistent with the love she used to have for me that I can't understand it. 

She acts very much like I acted toward my loved ones today.

The latest research says that migraines actually cause changes in the brain.  During a migraine one's perceptions are canted, and a term has been coined, "Migraine Brain." Things that go wrong in the brain can cause us to respond inaccurately, inappropriately, and yes, sinfully toward others.

It's hard to be the one who has to depend on the abilities of others to love and forgive.  Today I was that person, the one who flung hurtful words that found their marks in the precious hearts of those within range of my vindictive anger and spiteful words.  It's unnerving that a physical ill can cause my commitment to loving as I've been loved and forgiving as I've been forgiven to go out the window, but it has given me insight into my mother's behaviors.

Lord, forgive me, and help others forgive me. I forgive my mother.  Thank You for Your covering mercy and grace even when we sin, and thank You for healing the wounds we receive and inflict.

As I was recovering this afternoon, I came upon a painting of Christ sitting next to a girl who has her hands clutched in front of her and her head bowed. He has a compassionate look on His face, and His hand is stretched out toward her. This ministered to my heart; the Lord knows, He understands, He has compassion even when our wretched behavior has alienated those from whom we long for acceptance and nurture. He does not turn His back on us. He hasn't turned away from my mother.  And He won't turn away from you or me.


The painting that touched my heart was called The Master's Touch, by Greg Olsen.  You can see it here.  If you visit this page, be sure to read the poem Olsen wrote to go with this painting. It makes an analogy between a student who would like to drop out when responsibilities overwhelm and how all of us would like to drop out of life when our burdens become heavy. It offers sweet solace for weary caregivers who would definitely like to drop out!


  1. Where would we be without Jesus!? Only the Holy Spirit can teach us the kind of deep lessons that you learned and shared in this writing. I can find myself wrestling with a problem and the Lord can bring a Scripture to remembrance and suddenly I see things from a different perspective. He is a good, good Father!

  2. I occasionally get migraine auras, and they really are unsettling. They normally last about 30 minutes, followed by a headache. Not nice!

    1. I am sorry for your migraine suffering, but am always somewhat comforted when others share they also have these symptoms. Thanks for taking your time to comment.