What a Headache — Life With Migraines

In the month of May, I spent 23 days with migraines.

The ugly truth about the above statement — migraines equals extreme pain, blurry days, a miserable attitude and, at times, depression. For the past 5 years, I have been on the hunt for relief. I’ve tried a million different prescription medications (yuck) that made me feel just as bad, if not worse, than the migraine itself. I’ve kept an open mind, trying preventive tips and manageable magic tricks with little success. But, this isn’t a pity party — this is my journey, and one day I know I will learn control my chronic migraines.

I’m not a doctor, and in no way, shape, or form should you take my advice without first consulting a professional. Migraines are complicated, and each sufferer is very different. For me, migraines are chronic rather than episodic, which means I typically have 15 or more per month. They begin with a tingling aura. Next comes sharp pain, pressure, exhaustion, nausea. Which then leads to laying in a dark room until it ends. So, what do I do about it? How do I make it through my days? What keeps me smiling?

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First and foremost, I journal about them. I write about each migraine as I experience it. What I ate that day, what I smelled, how much sleep I got the night before, what the weather is like, how my stress levels are. Writing about my migraines has not only helped me cope, but also lets me learn a lot about myself, and how I can possibly have a little bit of control in the matter. When I first started journaling, it seemed that everything was causing a migraine. But with each day that I continued, I developed a better relationship and understanding of what my “triggers” are. If you suffer from migraines, my best advice is to try your hardest to learn the most you can about yourself and your body.

I take each day at a time. Balance is something that I strive to attain, day by day; for instance,  staying active and eating cleanly minimizes my stress levels and keeps confidence high.

Sometimes it’s hard to admit that you have been avoiding the big picture, the plan, the possibilities. I’m exhausted, burned out, overwhelmed by my current doctor and the endless prescriptions. Now that I have recently agreed to look at my big picture, it seems only right that I expand my healing circle to include holistic doctors  Take a look at your big picture, and what do you see? Define your lifestyle. How are you encouraging your overall wellness?

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I stay hopeful. This is easier said than done. But, if I know that I am doing the absolute most that I can, it will all come full circle. I will continue to seek for answers, and try my best to stay positive.

+What successes have you had when finding treatment for your migraines? Any tips on getting through the days? Let me know in the comments!

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Comments

  1. I have to be careful eating egg or cow milk I dont know if Im allergic to that but im avoiding eat those and I see I relief. I have to check if I have sinusitits the first thing that happen before that chronic migraine is nasal congestion. Only two pills do a great work is Fioricet and orudis. A warm bath. Sleep in comfortable bed and pillow . A massage and guitar songs.

  2. Have you tried seeing an Osteopath? My family doc always tells people with migraines and headaches to start there. It’s often blockages an the base of the Cranium that trigger the migraines.

  3. Hi, i don’t usually leave comments, but i think this time maybe i can hel you with my experience.
    I never had migraines in my life until last year. In 4 months i had like, i don’t know, 30 maybe? For me it was only the aura, without the headache, but it was an aura that least for 30 minutes and didn’t let me see well. I really panic, because this was a thing that blocked me. And i was affraid.
    At that time i was in a point of my life were i wanted to leave my lifetime job (lawyer) and try to study and work of what i always loved (and never could see), drawing and illustration.
    So, when the migraines started i knew that i had to make a change in my life, so i quit my job (hopefully my husband suport me on this change) and follow my dream ja. It was reaaally dificult for me, but i did it. The worst thing that could happen it would be to go back and be again a lawyer.
    What i learned in all this process: the migraines appeares because y was really really stressed, (if i go back in time i was having fisical sympthones for the last 2 years) , and for a long time i was not being able to “see” what i really wanted in my life.
    The migranies are totally realted to stress, it’s something chemical in your brain that generated them and when the body acomodate them it goes away. For me it helped me a lot doing excercise, like walking 30 minutes per day, eating every 3 hours and therapy, where i learn to make relaxaiton exercises, begin to learn about myself and learn something that for me was the most important thing: when you stop fighting the migraines, and accept them, and they stop being in your thoughts all the time, then they slowly strat to go.
    I don’t know if it can help you, but i hope so, that’s my experience and i haven’t had migranies in a year, but i’m not affraid of having them, and if anytime they come back again i will try to be ok, because i know that as they come, they go.
    I think trying to make excercises and eating well and meditate (i’m meditating with an app thats called headspace, because i’m anxious and i can’t make it alone) helps you low your stress levels, and equilibrate that part that chemically it’s desregulated. And then, really accept them and stop fighting them.
    Well i hope it can help you, someday they will be less and maybe one day they go forever.
    Ps: sorry if my english it’s not the best!
    Ps2: before i found out all of this things, i went to a doctor and make all the studies, and when he told me that there where only migraines (he didn’t gave me any drougs) i started to work in therapy because i knew it was a symphton of anxiety.
    Cheers,
    Laura

  4. I’m so sorry you are going through this! It’s awful. I have been dealing with migraines since I was 10 and after years and years of trying different medications, I can finally say that I know enough about my body to not use medication anymore. If I try taking any kinds of medications nowadays, they actually make me more nauseous.

    I think you are absolutely right when you say to know yourself and your body when trying to cure migraines. Know your triggers and avoid them as much as possible. What has helped me the most is to drink lots and lots of water! and avoid caffeine. Especially if I know that I will be in a stressful situation. When I do feel one coming on, I try to walk away from the situation, drink water, and do breathing exercises (alternate nostril breathing really helps). But then again, everyone different triggers, which is why migraines are so difficult.

  5. I suffer from chronic migraines too. They began right after my son was yanked from my uterus during our cesarean, as a throbbing thunder clap headache. Fast forward 6 months of daily non stop facial, neck, skull, and hypersensitivity to all stimuli, and I finally tried my neurologists prescription of daily amitriptyline (a tricyclic antidepressant also used for migraines and chronic pain). Within days they stopped, I tried getting off of it a year later and had to restart because the migraines came back. So daily amitriptyline to prevent the migraine and sumatriptan to cut the edge off one if they slip by my first defense.

    I have also tried many other alternative therapies to no consistent avail. Incidentally my Dad suffers from debilitating migraines as well, so it is definitely a hereditary problem in my family.

    Hope that helped, if not for the medicine then at least to know you’re not alone or crazy :).

  6. Hi Madisyn! I have an essential oil blend that I’d love to gift you to try- let me know if you’re interested :)

  7. I use to suffer from fairly constant migraines two back when I was in high school. It was odd. I had never really gotten a migraine before and then I suddenly started experiencing them frequently. Then one day… they stopped … and I haven’t had one since. I get rather uncomfortable headaches every now and then but I would in no way classify them as migraines having had many of those before myself… The crazy thing is I don’t know why they started or why they stopped so I have no idea how to make sure they don’t come back.

    I know how much they suck and how not only does it ruin the day you get the migraine, but your head just isn’t good for the next day either (I always found I couldn’t bend over the next day or move my head to fast otherwise it would feel extremely uncomfortable) so I hope you find a cure or a successful managing routine soon. xx.

    Amy
    thenoiseinwonderland.blogspot.com.au

  8. I had crazy migraines in high school that made me miss several days of class per month. I went to see a neurologist (after seeing other doctors) who prescripted me a long-term treatment for 6 months. It’s the only thing that worked for me, though my stress and anxiety took different forms after that I had to work on.

  9. Hi,
    I suffer from migraines too and they suck! What usually helps me is an icepack on my forehead or the back of my neck. I’ve also had a lot of success with taking magnesium tablets daily.

  10. I too suffer chronic migraine …. i also have chronic fibromyalgia and chronic fatique…30 years now with these complaints…i take imigran and panadeine forte….i take magnesium tablets but just this week i have begun using organic magnesium oil ….i rub it into my neck and shoulders throughout the day and evening …also just before i go to bed and as soon as i wake in the morning. ..also if i wake during the night. …it’s early days yet but i have now gone 4 days without a migraine and although i am still taking panadeine forte for sickness and pain this to has decreased. ..i also have osteo in my hip joint and the magnesium oil seems to be relieving that somewhat as well. ….

  11. Hello,

    I suffered from migraines and still do at times…but I figured out what was causing them for me was gluten. Not sure if you have tried to cut it out.. just thought I would share.

  12. Do you realise that we are all women who suffer of migraines? I know many women with migraine problems but not one man… it just made me wonder… what about our hormone system that is so much more complicated?
    My migraines are periodic, depending on my monthly cycle. Not sleeping well or enough is a trigger for sure and stress at work (no surprise)! I take sumatriptan for 8 years… Sometimes I feel it is just not a normal life and an unbearable condition. For me exercise helps, but it has to be aerobic or anaerobic, running or spinning. Failure of the veins to adequately circulate the blood can be an important element too. Get this checked by your doctor. Take care. Mimi

  13. Along with all these beautiful and strong gals, I too suffer from chronic migraines! I really appreciate this post because it makes me feel so connected to everyone who shares the same suffering disease while those close to me can’t quite understand what it is we really go through. I started getting them when I was ten years old as a form of hereditary genes passed on from my grandmother. This gene is most frequently expressed in women, although I have met a few males who have experienced chronic migraines as well.
    It’s also great reading about all of different remedies that people try, so thank you heaps!
    I guess I just want to list some of my biggest triggers and maybe someone will benefit by reading and can reduce the risk of getting one in the slightest way. Stress, caffeine, chocolate, intense light like sun glare, lack of sleep, and foods containing MSG (monosodium glutamate, a neurotransmitter which in high doses results in migraines) are some of the biggest triggers for me. I found that by cutting out caffeine and chocolate, I had the best results and could go a few weeks without getting a headache. Hopefully this can be useful information! I also like to rub lavender essential oil on my temples in really low concentrations helps me relax when I’m having an episode.

  14. Thanks for sharing this article. I have suffered from migraines for about 9 years. I didnt know what was the cause or the root of it until about 4 years ago. I realized that self care really plays a huge part in preventing them. I have to make sure I eat healthy meals regularly, get enough sleep, getting massages one a month to every other month, STRETCHING and drink tons of water. Also, living in LA, I am constantly in traffic which does not help.

    When I neglect self-care…even for one day… I get a knot in between my shoulder blades that sends pain to the back of the top of my neck where it meets the skull and then to my jaw and finally a throbbing pain to my sinus area. I have a foam roller that I use to work out the kinks, then I put my hands and feet in warm water essential oils and an ice pack on my neck. Also, pepto for the nausea.

    Hope this is helpful to someone.

  15. Hi, topamax helped me get things under control when they were taking over my life. I eventually tapered off and gluten free diet really helps keep them at bay. Once a month, but I can deal with that. When I tried a kerogenic diet they went away completely. Definitely something to look into if you want to avoid medication.

  16. I’ve had extremely severe episodic migraines since I was 18 months old, usually 3-4 times a year. I almost always end up going to the emergency room to get fluids and my pain under control. Migraines can be so exhausting no matter how extreme they are!! Over the years, I’ve found that my main triggers are stress, MSG and other preservatives in food, and blue light from electronics. I kept a journal of all of my daily habits just like you and with a little bit of time and patience you start to understand your body and how to better take care of it. I am currently looking into a gluten free diet to see if I can lessen the frequency even more!

    It’s interesting to hear other people’s experiences and triggers. No wonder doctors are so baffled when it comes to these headaches, they’re so complex! Hopefully someone finds my experience helpful. I know I’ve found everyone else’s to be very insightful!

    Best wishes

  17. I’m 16 years old and I’ve had a constant headache for almost 11 months now. I go to bed and wake up with one, very often waking up in the middle of the night when the pain is almost excruciating. I also average on having about 2 migraines per week. I have tried many prescriptions and sometimes they’re able to help with the pain a little but alter the rest of my well being. for migraines I would recommend downloading the app “migraine buddy” because it helps track the occurrences of your migraines as well as your symptoms/varying treatment methods along with your sleep pattern. I have also been seeing a psychologist because of the depression that comes along with this seemingly never ending pain. All I can say is to reach to others for help and find peace in any way possible. Make sure every controllable aspect about you is healthy.

  18. My first migraine struck when I was nine and on a cross country ski school field trip. I remember being scared that I was going blind and having to take shelter in the ski lodge on a bench :(. However, I didn’t began suffering from chronic migraines until I was 11. I would get them every morning in school at the same time. My symptoms were: at onset aura and light sensitivity, followed by a deep throbbing pain in one eye, and eventually nausea, chills, and vomiting every 30 minutes or so. My symptoms would last for about 6-7 hours and then subside.
    When I went to the doctor I was told that migraines have a ton of triggers and my trigger could be anything from certain foods to hormones to weather. I was given a list of common trigger foods and told to keep a food diary to try and weed-out possible culprits. I was also told to take extra strength Tylenol at the onset to try and prevent symptom progression. Nothing seemed to help. Then one day, just as suddenly as they started, my chronic migraines stopped.
    I would still suffer the occasional migraine, maybe about 2-3 a year. When I would start to get a migraine I tried to treat or reduce the severity by taking ground ginger shots or feverfew capsules….no help. I did however began to notice a pattern. I would get a migraine if I ate certain Chinese foods. I got a particularly bad bout of migraines back-to-back after consuming a bowl of edamame and General Tso tofu. For me, certain soy products were the trigger. I now avoid most soy products, but am able to eat refined soybean products, such as: soybean oil, soy flour, soy lecithin. I have not had a migraine since March of 2014, and that one was again due to soy. A friend offered me a shot of sake, which at the time I didn’t know was unfiltered and fermented on soybeans!!! It was bad news.
    Migraines are awful. When I read this blog entry I felt compelled to respond in hopes that it could help even just one person connect the dots in their own situation. A special place in my heart goes out to all those suffering from migraines. You are not alone (as made evident by all these postings) and there is hope. You are all in my thoughts and prayers.

  19. BOTOX! Not kidding you! It’s the best thing I’ve used in all my 68 years! Every 3 months; yes, it hurts, but not like a migraine! Covered by insurance. This is a miracle!

  20. I’ve only ever experienced a migraine once but they truly are horrible. You are an amazing woman — to be able to live with that while keeping a positive attitude. What an inspiration! Thank you so much for sharing, Madisyn. :)

  21. Hi.
    Botox is fda approved to treat chronic migraine headaches and it works amazingly!!!!! Go to their website and read about it. It’s mostly neurologists that treat. Don’t stay stuck with your primary care doc that just keeps prescribing you pills.

  22. So interesting all these comments. I am 72 and have had headaches/migraines since I was 9, after having been struck by a car and having a concussion. Have tried all the drugs and alternative treatments, but never received much relief. The triptans were great for awhile but lost strength over time. A few years ago I went off them and decided to really step out on a limb and follow the psilocybin procedure as outlined on the Clusterbusters ‘ site. There is one place in Holland, Mycologics bv, which ships magic truffles, a legal source of psilocybin in Holland, worldwide. They are very reliable and honest. I experimented with a few strains and got some relief. The last strain I tried was Duchii. At a 5 mg. dose made into a tea, I received long lasting results with no headaches for months and then a gradual return to mild headaches and now POW, they are back full time and full strength. For almost two weeks I have had daily 24/7 pain from level 5-10. I just ordered another batch of truffles which I make into a tea and freeze in small containers. If anyone would like more info from me please feel free to e-mail. Good luck and blessings to all,

  23. Following a car accident & mild traumatic brain injury 18 months ago, I now have chronic daily migraines. I’ve found the biggest things to help to be…eating clean (mostly plant based & organic), solid nights sleep 8-10 hours ideally, staying hydrated, taking care of my body & especially my neck (gentle exercise, stretching, massage, acupuncture & craniosacral sacral therapy), minimizing screen time & blue light, minimizing stress, minimizing prescription medications, & most importantly taking daily CBD oil (non psychotropic medical marijuana with neuro protective qualities) these all helped me go from months straight of daily migraines at a level 9-10 to having manageable migraines about 15-20 days a month, bad ones the remaining days. im so sorry to see how many others suffer with this too, but it’s nice everyone is Sharing so we don’t feel so alone & can hopefully learn from one another.

  24. As someone who has suffered since I was 12 with horrible migraines I totally feel you – both of my parents are doctors so I’ve tried everything. But a few years ago I found something that WORKS – it might sound kinda scary but I get the Botox injection treatment and I’ve gone from a migraine every day to one or two bad ones in a month!!! It’s completely changed my life and I would highly recommend looking into it.

  25. My sister-in-law started taking Inositol and that worked for her! Jarrow is a reputable company that makes them in both powder and tablet form. Worth a try! (And no, I don’t work for them, but I do sell supplements at our local natural food store, so I have some experience with their product).

  26. Hi I too suffer from chronic migraines for five years now… I’ve tried medicine prescribed by the doctor but that just made me worse… I have found that when I have a migraine coming (when the throbbing starts) if I take a hot Epsom salt bath with either lavender or mint scent it really helps releave the pressure starting to build up and it prevents the nausea for me at least!

  27. My family & I all suffer from chronic migraines as well. The only thing that has been helping me a little bit is the change in my diet & exercising more frequently. I feel over time i have just accepted the fact I can have a migraine at any time. I cant do certain activities for a long period of time for example, ride roller coasters, or be in extremely hot weather. Gotta roll with the punches.

    http://www.exposurebydarion.com

  28. Hi! I have been fighting migraines for a while now and have yet to find the perfect solution but I have had some improvement. I have found that minimizing my stress is the biggest factor (easier said than done). I also found that my biggest triggers are estrogen (I no longer use birth control), chocolate, caffeine, and cheese. My first neurologist recommended the book Heal Your Headache. It was very helpful and educating when I first read it 2 years ago. I plan on reading it again soon. Migraines are different for everyone and best of luck at finding the solution to yours!

  29. I also suffer from migraines that are debilitating. Sometimes few and far between and other times they come and last for weeks. I became afraid, “will I get a migraine today?” Or “how long will this one last?” They start with aura, then a sharp lightning strike pains through my head, a prickly sensation throughout the scalp, and a sensation that sounds are much too loud. I went to a neurologist when they became constant like this and she told me to take 400 riboflavin, 400 magnesium and COQ10. I was also directed to take daily walks in fresh air (for blood flow and stress relief), sleep on a schedule so it’s the same every day, eat small amounts frequently throughout the day, and drink at least 64oz of WATER a day, not including juices or soups into my quota. It has helped immensely.

  30. Read the book Heal Your Headache by Dr. David Buccholz. I had migraines every other day for a year, read it, and they stopped once I started his program! He lays out 3 steps: 1. Quit “quick fix” medications (triptans) 2. Elimination diet 3. Add a preventive medication if needed. #1 basically helps you eliminate rebound headaches, which is what most of my migraines were…caused by medication overuse. Once you start the diet, which eliminates every single food that’s a trigger, your headaches come under control. He makes everything very easy to understand, and gives explicit instructions to follow. Check out the Amazon.com reviews if you need any inspiration! Nearly every single reviewer (650) said it changed their life when they thought their migraines were hopeless.

  31. I’m at my wits end! At 64, I have been having migraines since I was 50. I’ve tried everything including Botox and have been on an ancestral diet for 4 months. I have a migraine right now and I’m on vacation!! My headaches start on my left shoulder blade, neck, base of head and then expand for 3-4 days. I starve it, feed it, apply cold compress, showers, pray, meditate, listen to soft music… Not taking Triptans because I just take 5 over a 3 day period and the migraine subsides and just comes back until the 3 days are over!! I’ve eliminated so many foods, I don’t know what to do. I’m having trouble with what foods bother me because if I have a little of something, no problem, then I have it again, I have a problem!! Is it what I ate or something else I ate?? Any help would be appreciated!!

  32. “living with migraines is like having a 1000 bombs inside of you and you

    never know when one will go off; living with cluster migraines is

    like having 10000 bombs inside of you and you never know when one

    will go off and create a chain reaction”

    pgh 08-30-16

  33. If its comes to migraine then you should take precaution treatment from experience doctor’s. They will suggest you best medicine to get relief from migraine pain.

  34. i started geting migraine aura at 55 and they have gone from once every few months to about 3 a week but hardly any headache to speak of. i have tried every elimination known to man and cannot figure it out. i take co enzyme and magnesium and other so-called goodies but it doesn’t make any difference. they come when they come. i can be totally stressed and not get one and be in the middle of mindfulness meditation and it happens. always ends after 20-30 minutes. i am not looney tunes but there could be an alien or psychic dimension to this condition especially with the aura and also living in such a ‘smart’ world can impact on the body’s electrical system. worth a thought guys. good to know there are others experiencing this and one of the upsides to our tech age is we can connect

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