Up until very recently I felt that my migraines were just something for me to overcome a couple of times a month and I just ‘had to deal with them’. However, this doesn’t seem fair, often they debilitate me; I miss work, social gatherings and dare I say it, life.
I want to share my experience with you in the hope that it resonates, this is something that I have been dealing with for most of my adult life and migraines can be very misunderstood.
The Migraine Experience
Imagine a pounding techno beat, it’s pulsating and manic, the lights strobe around you and you’ve never felt… so awful in your life. It’s like a day and night at Berghain… except it’s happening in your head and is anything but euphoric.
When I have a migraine I can go days without going outside, not able to open the curtains or look at a screen. I fester in my own juices. I go from hot to cold repeatedly, having to lie in exactly the right position so that the pain point on my forehead touches the part of the pillow that gives me slight pain relief.
A cold flannel drapes dramatically across my forehead and a hot bean pillow is piled around my neck. I look and smell like I have been on the set of The Exorcist. I ride the waves of nausea and nibble on a plain bread roll and try to sip some full fat coke.
Imagination is my friend so I dream of a drill going through the part of my skull where the pain is, I grimace excitedly at the possibility of decapitation and I curse everyone who is not going through what I am at that exact moment.
Sometimes the pain has been so bad I have just stood in front of my husband weeping because I had no idea what else to do.
Sadly it’s not just ‘the during part’ that affects you, but some people get pre migraine symptoms – aura and others get postdrome – I get the latter which makes me feel like I’ve been on the pop for three nights with no sleep.
These are my worst days of migraines but I wanted to give you an immersive experience so you can feel sympathy, thank you.
What is migraine?
For those of you who have never had a migraine, if you tell me it’s a ‘bad headache’* I will murder you, it’s far, far more.
The Migraine Trust says that “migraine is the most common and disabling neurological disorder in the UK. It affects 1 in 7 people, and is more prevalent than diabetes, epilepsy and asthma combined. There are 190,000 migraine attacks a day in the UK”.
Here’s the kicker: Migraine affects three-times as many women as men, with this higher rate being most likely hormonally-driven.
Yet another fabulous win for women’s health #sarcasm.
Unfortunately migraines are triggered by many things, some are completely out of our control including:
- Food – lack of/additives/cheese/alcohol
- Change in routine inc. weekend migraines
- Screen time
- Teeth grinding
- Anything fun (have added for dramatic effect)
You can find out lots more by visiting The Migraine Trust’s superb website.
Migraines are a mental health issue
Apart from the physical effects of migraine, the emotional effects can be equally as bad. It’s very easy to feel alone in your pain and in my case, to be fearful of experiencing migraine.
My brain likes to conjure up images of everyone else having fun, living their life to the fullest whilst I writhe in bed like a mad Victorian with distemper. The FOMO is real.
Also because you can’t see migraine it sometimes feels that people just don’t understand, if my arm was hanging out of it’s socket you’d be sympathetic I am sure.
I have been in bed with migraines on holidays, hot summer days, New Years Eve, weekends, bank holidays, during parties, gigs and cinema trips.
What not to say with someone who suffers with migraine
- *”It’s just a headache” (see above #murder)
- “Just use it as an excuse” – um, no you insensitive fool
- “Oh, I thought you just said you had a migraine because you didn’t want to come” – um, no you insensitive fool part 2
How you can support someone with migraine
- Check in with them. Knowing people care is lovely.
- Find out more about migraine
- Empathy my friends, empathy
If you too suffer with my migraines you have my total empathy, sympathy and support. Know that you are not alone and I’m always here for a chat.
Here are some resources that help me:
The Migraine Life – insta