Cover Photo: Illustration of a woman standing in front of shelves lined with journals
Illustration by Shanee Benjamin for Catapult

The Headache Diaries

The diary was how I organized a life suddenly thrown into chaos. This is what the human mind does; it looks for a narrative, for meaning.

This is Pain in the Brain, a column by Melissa Hung on life with a chronic headache.

But over time, the notebooks have gotten larger, the entries longer, my handwriting sloppier. The strange has become my normal. I’ve accepted that this uninvited houseguest might take up residence in my body for the rest of my life.

Melissa Hung is a writer and journalist. Her essays and reported stories have appeared in NPR, Vogue, Longreads, Pacific Standard, and Body Language (Catapult 2022). She is the founding editor of Hyphen magazine. She grew up in Texas, the eldest child of immigrants. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @melissahungtx and at