Tuesday, March 4, 2008
In a New York Times group blog, Jeff Tweedy, of Wilco, has an account of his lifelong experience with migraines. He describes growing up with depression and panic attacks that, he feels, produced anxiety so strong that migraines developed. As a result, he also became addicted to pain medications.
A lot of people equate migraines and strong headaches. That's just wrong, migraines are often totally debilitating. Tweedy recalls performing shows with a vomit bucket just off stage. He used it between every song. During the making of "A Ghost is Born" his migraines were so intense he was only able to work a couple hours a day. Their recording was actually affected; some songs were kept minimalist only because Tweedy was unable to withstand long sessions.
I've known a few family members who suffer from migraines, and it's amazing how most of the time, nothing helps. Like Tweedy points out, even when addicted to narcotics, his migraines were just as intense. He only got better with management of the stress and anxiety context associated with having migraines. That's easier said than done - he needed antidepressants - and migraines, like many mysterious pain disorders, never seen to go away.
This is so strange to me. I'm around a lot of scientists that try to understand how the nervous system mediates the interaction between an individual's environment and its behavior. The idea is to help treat people's problems, like addiction, depression, etc. A lot of great work is done. Read a personal account like Jeff Tweedy's, however, and it's hard to see where progress is being made.
It's good that people in his position can talk about this kind of problem though. Let it out Jeff Tweedy, let it out.