Migraine Expressions (a review)

I’m going to tip my hand right at the beginning here.  I humbly admit, Migraine Expressions was far more amazing than I ever expected.  Wow.

Migraine Expressions

A quick introduction: Migraine Expressions: A Creative Journey through Life with Migraine was put together by Betsy Baxter Blondin, herself a migraineur.  It’s a compilation of art, poetry and prose from migraineurs around the world.  It’s a beautiful high-quality hard-cover full-colour volume – one that you might keep on your coffee table (if you weren’t afraid it might scare the kids).

Every picture, article, poem – they’re all different.  Some very different.  I kept thinking to myself,"Wow, if everyone could just read that one!" or "Brilliant!" or "That’s fascinating – a perfect description".  But then I realized I was saying this on almost every page, so I’m at a loss to just recommend a few to you.

There are some interesting themes running through the book.  In the pictures, many times I noticed the theme of a prison.  A person with migraine is a prisoner – looking out through the bars at the sky, longing to get out, but trapped.  Another common theme was that of a champion – having fought another battle, emerging triumphant.

So no, it’s not all negative.  Yes, you’ll read about horror and demons and agony and despair.  But I also saw the migrainuer sense of humour as a thread in the tapestry.  And, surprisingly, many people had a lot to say about gratitude.

The pictures will give you a deep look into the lives of migraineurs.  On the title page, A. Heather Davulclu’s haunting and agonizing Eye of the Storm.  The piercing pain of Mark J. Koontz’ Migraine.  The mysterious features in Through My Eyes by Mysti L. Guymon.  The violence of Melissa Bartosh’s Chronic Migraine, No Key.  The pointed animation of Travis Edson’s Sharp Pains.  The contrasting torment of Julian Honoré’s Trepan.  The deceptively calm Self-Portrait by Krystal Frauendienst.  And the blazing hope of Cedric Colond’s Heavenly Light.

The articles and poetry are equally ingenious.  For example, The First Time by Amethyst Hawkins, about an 11 year old girl being struck by the unknown symptoms of migraine disease.  Lynann Butkiewicz’ The Harrowing Climb, on the repeated journies of sickness.  And I still can’t get over the unbelievably descriptive fish symbolism in The Fish that Swim in My Head by Holly Harden.

I’ll give you a taste of the written words with a few quotes.  So many of these articles are so brilliant – this will give you a taste while you wait for your copy to arrive in the mail.  😉  Migraine Expressions is available at World Metro Press here, or you may be able to pick it up new or used at amazon.com.

… I used to get very sad thinking about my children growing up with a mother who had monthly migraines.  What would they remember, I wondered: a sad, tired woman lying on the couch?  Were they frightened?  Were they resentful? …

from A Student of Migraines by Sharon Davis

… Don’t be fooled by the face you see.  For it is a mask that hides the pain, such incomprehensible pain.  Shrieks of agony ring out, eyes bleed.  Tears make an ocean of bloody pain an sadness that just won’t stop.  There is no end to the drugs, side effects, lost life and lost dreams…

from The Mask by Melissa Bartosh

… Plenty of my days are perfectly described by the dense, dark gray overhead.  I’ve become grateful for the variations in my headache clouds.  They give me hope that headaches won’t destroy my joy.  Even if I have a headache every day of the rest of my life, the subtle changes within a day make me appreciate every moment I have. …

from Hope from Desperation by Kerrie Smyres


Wishing, Waiting
Once again we wait
For the waves to relinquish
The winds to wane
The tide to recede
So we can walk on the shore
Wade in the water,
and wallow in treasure

from Song-less Morning by Kelly Jo Blondin

… The fish aren’t large, reckless and writhing above the surface of the fluid in which they swim; they aren’t pink-cheeked trout, spotted and sleek.  They aren’t the grotesque imposition of sturgeon.  The fish in my head skitter and swarm, all together now, like neon tetras: magnetized, of one mind.  They spring from the deep into the aqueous humor of my eyes, a fleeting school of grunion, a run of smelt.  And when the lights appear, flashing and blue against the purple sky lining my forehead, I brace myself.  These are lights of distress. …

from The Fish that Swim in My Head by Holly Harden.

Reading this book will help you understand your own journey, or maybe someone else’s, in a way you never have before.

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