Oliver Mol
Oliver MolImage by: Oliver Mol
Oliver Mol
4 October 2022

Oliver's story: A 10-month migraine nearly ended my life

3 minutes read time

When I was 27, I suffered a 10-month migraine that nearly ended my life. To varying degrees, I had suffered from depression and anxiety since I was a child, but this was something else entirely. I had just published my first book, and the physical pain was all-consuming; I could not read or write or look at anything with a screen; no doctors could help me. 

One afternoon I contemplated taking my life. Even now I couldn’t tell you what saved me, although I suppose it had something to do with my family. 

Unable to live unassisted, I spent the following months rehabilitating with my parents in Brisbane. Eventually, I returned to Sydney; I was still in pain, but I needed a job. One evening, I searched 'No Experience, Full Time job, Sydney’. There was a job for a Train Guard. A phenomenal number of people applied, but somehow, I was accepted. I spent the next two years going around in circles, watching the lives of others while trying to understand my own. 

" In many ways, the railway saved my life "

In many ways, the railway saved my life: beyond the steady pay cheque, the trains afforded a space to return to my body, to slow down and breathe. I discovered the work of Dr John Sarno and Dr Howard Shubiner, as well as the Curable App, and the Tell Me About Your Pain podcast. Their work helped me cope with and understand my pain. In conjunction with visits to a psychotherapist, I grew to understand mind-body medicine, that your body is always talking to you, and that by sitting in difficult emotions and especially by reassuring and calming yourself it can be possible to rewire your neural pathways and send chronic pain away. It was a long process, learning to trust my body again, but after several months of this work I realised one morning that I was no longer in pain. The migraine had gone and the chronic pain had too. Of course, over the years there have been set backs, but the difference now is that I am no longer afraid. I have the tools to heal myself. I used to think I would live in eternal pain, but now I am more or less pain free.

These days, I am a writer once more. Recently I was fortunate enough to publish my second book Train Lord. It’s a memoir that documents my chronic pain journey and how I found a way back to myself despite it all. Chronic pain can be so isolating, and my hope with this book is to remind other people suffering that they are not alone, that stories are alchemy, that stories, and especially those stories we tell ourselves, have the power to heal. 

I would never in a million years want to experience that pain again (all the pain) but I am grateful to the experience because I now understand that the migraine was simply asking me to return to my body, and to learn how to love myself again.

If you, or someone you know, is feeling low, don’t hesitate to reach out for support using these local support resources.