The COVID Diaries: Blame it on the Brain

The other day my family was zooming—and yes, I consider this a verb now, and somehow the topic of Milli Vanilli came up. For those who don’t remember them, or weren’t alive then, they were a brief one album wonder in the late ’80s/early ’90s whose fame came crashing down when it was discovered that they were lip-syncing. Until that point my family and friends were known to groove along to their music, or rather, blast it at full volume while dancing around the living room, but to this day it was my dad’s reaction to this news that still amuses me the most. He threatened to break the CD and swore he would never listen to them again! He did not break the CD, but I’m pretty sure we never played the album in our house again. Their most famous song—Blame it on the Rain, periodically still pops into my head and Weird Al’s version, Blame it on the Drain, was a classic in the ’90s—or least, it was for me.


Rob Pilatus and Fabrice Morvan, the German singers who were the face—but not the real voices of Milli Vanilli.

So, as I lay in bed last week, struck down by a brutal migraine—my first migraine of the Corona crisis, I lay there in my usual state of pain and boredom, waiting for the worst to past and kept hearing in my head, “blame it on the braaaaain, yah yah!” It’s odd, the things that keep me amused when I’m waiting for a migraine to end.

Then it struck me—waiting for a migraine to end is strangely like waiting for this Corona crisis to pass. There are a whole slew of things that make migraines difficult to go through, but one of the most frustrating is just not knowing how long it will last. Sometimes, if I’m very lucky, it will only last an afternoon. On occasion they’re just one day long. Most often, they’re about three days in total and worst case scenario—they last a week. This isn’t to say that I’m in acute pain for that entire time, but from the first tingle above my right eye, to the moment I realize my head is clear again, well, it can be a while. Sometimes I imagine my migraine self as a combination of a slightly drunk person who keeps knocking things over with a very hungover person who has a killer headache and can’t get out of bed. But the thing, is, it’s always the inability to do something, or really, anything at all, that gets to me the most.

I love having free time. It’s a joy for me to know that I have nothing planned for a whole weekend. Don’t get me wrong, I love having fun plans to look forward to, but free time doesn’t scare me or a lack of structure either But, when I’m frozen in bed, unable to turn the lights on because it physically hurts my eyes and brain, and unable to listen to anything because the sound makes me feel nauseated and there is literally nothing I can do, but lie there, waiting for my prescription medications to kick in and for time to pass, well—that is when I’m tested to the limit. It’s this bizarre state of being where time feels endless and yet you also somehow lose track of time.

In almost every conversation I have these days people mention how they have no idea what day it is, or even what time it is. Zeke and I find ourselves eating dinner hours later than we normally do, and then we’re sure it’s Tuesday for most of the day and turns out it’s Thursday and we have no idea how we got here.

We have no idea how long this will all go on. We don’t know when the social isolation will end. We don’t know when we will go back to work and school and our beloved activities and social lives. We don’t even know if we will be able to go back to regular life again, or what our new reality might look like. We just don’t know. We’re all lying in bed with virtual migraines, waiting for them to pass. For many of us, particularly here in B.C., we don’t even know someone personally who has been infected by COVID-19 so this state of being feels even more surreal—like some imaginary force is holding us captive. Of course I know it’s not imaginary, and my heart can’t even comprehend the suffering and pain that others are going through right now,  and that all the frontline workers are dealing with, but it also feels like a bizarre dream that just won’t end.

But, just like with my migraines—this too shall pass, as my mom always says. In yin yoga, you hold poses for much longer than in any other type of yoga, thus learning to accept the moment and to live there, or at least this is the goal. I remember one hilarious yin yoga teacher I had once teach me just how this worked. The class was in what we thought was a comfortable position, but after holding it for almost five minutes we all started to question the supposed ease of this pose.

“Okay, now move gently into child’s pose. It’s a relief, right? You’re feeling great now, aren’t you?”

Fast forward to five minutes later and we’re all shifting on our mats and trying to fight the urge to move into another position.

“Ah, I see you all. Now, all you can think about is the last position. Am I right? You’re dying for me to tell you to move back into it, aren’t you?”

All we really have is now. This moment. We can’t know the future, and we can’t live in the past. We have to find a way to be as comfortable as we can now. It’s one of the hardest things to do in life, especially for a naturally impatient soul like mine, but hey, if I can make it through a lifetime of migraines, and countless hours of “pain boredom” surely I can sit in the discomfort of now for a while. Or, at least I’ll try.

For now, enjoy this music video. I’m not gonna lie— I still get an adolescent sized dopamine surge of pleasure from it. It’s still oh-so-catchy. Girl, you know it’s true.


2 thoughts on “The COVID Diaries: Blame it on the Brain

  1. russfuoco says:

    Great observation about the similarities of migraines to the Covid19 uncertainty.
    We’d like to blame it on something–Bats, live animal markets, Air travel, lack of preparedness–some want to blame the Chinese Government, some want to blame the US military..,I like the comment I heard recently about staying home not being like a “prison” but more a “safe refuge”.
    All depends on how you view it. I’m sure ER Docs, nurses and Hosp. cleaning crew would love to be told to “stay home and keep your family safe!”

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