March #Migraine Blog Round Up

March was a slightly busier month than February (at least here at The Migraine Chronicles), but I have to admit – more happened than I had the chance to write about. Hopefully, April will see that begin to change. In the meantime, here are some great posts you may have missed:

My Posts

Other Favorites

That’s it for this month. Happy reading!

Did I miss something you found particularly helpful? Share it here.

Talking about #Migraine: Why (and When) It’s Hard

I’ve found it difficult to write this month. Each new idea arrives too unformed to share immediately, too vague to understand.

Some days, it is easy to write and talk about migraine. Days like the afternoon a week ago when my father-in-law asked me over a beer to discuss the Alice-in-Wonderland-syndrome hallucinations that accompany my auras. On days like that, I have no trouble recounting my experiences, no matter how incredible they might seem to someone who doesn’t have migraine disease.

Other days, though, like last Saturday when my husband wanted to chat about the potential causes of migraine, it’s not so easy. On those days, the hard days, I feel too raw to write and talk, too emotionally spent to walk someone without the illness through the experience of having it. This can hurt the people, like my husband, who just want to understand what I’m going through and help if and where they can. Intellectually, I know this, but that doesn’t make the hard days any easier.

Over the past few days, I’ve tried to figure out why some days (and months) are harder than others. Why on some days the words – either oral or written – pour forth and why on others they don’t. What I’ve learned is there isn’t one reason or even a handful of reasons. There are a multitude that may or may not apply at any given time, including:

  • whether we’re having a migraine; (I find it exceptionally difficult to form complete, well formed sentences in the midst of a migraine attack. Migraine also makes me irritable and emotionally sensitive, which can mean certain conversations are more difficult to have in the midst of an attack.)
  • whether we’re recovering from a migraine; (The migraine hangover is notorious for stealing my ability to put effort into a conversation.)
  • whether we’re feeling emotionally secure; (It’s hard to open up about things that we feel might make us look bad/lazy/stupid/”crazy” if we’re feeling insecure about ourselves.)
  • whether we’re tired; (Sleep deprivation turns even notable geniuses into blathering idiots.)
  • whether we’re stressed; (Stress does a number on our mental capabilities. It also saps our energy.)
  • whether we’re feeling understood; (If we’re feeling misunderstood, we’re already operating from a place of defensiveness and insecurity, which makes effective communication nearly impossible.)

The truth is, creativity and self-expression are, like migraine itself, often cyclical. Our ability to express ourselves is tied, like our physical health, to any number of things. The best we can do is accept this reality and ask those around us to hold off on the questions until we feel like talking.

How about you? What makes it easy or difficult for you to talk about migraine?

Returning Fertility, Returning #Migraines

My son is almost 10 months old, and though I am still nursing him about every two hours, my monthly cycles have finally returned. For many women, this would simply mean returning fertility. For me, it means both this and the return of a particular kind of migraine: menstrual migraine.

The vast majority of my migraine attacks are not triggered by my menstrual cycle nor are they affected by hormones (other than cortisol). Some of my attacks are, however, and this was especially true this past week. For almost six straight days, a low-grade migraine kept me and my cramps company from the time I woke up until the time I finally nodded off to sleep.

Thankfully, my menstrual migraines are never as intense as my regular migraines, but their long stay can make them difficult to take. And, because I am still nursing, my methods for dealing with such a long migraine attack are limited. This time, I settled in with a heating pad on my abdomen, an ice pack on my head, and a bottle of ibuprofen to my left. It wasn’t the best treatment I could have tried, but it was the only one I had at my disposal.

I’m hoping my body and brain were simply unfamiliar with the flood of hormones associated with my cycle, and that they forgot how to handle them. I’m hoping that next month will be a little easier to take, with less cramping and fewer days of migraine pain. I’m hoping that eventually my brain will remember how to handle the ebb and flow of my feminine hormones and let me off the hook entirely. We’ll see.

 

Finding Happiness with Migraines

Living with migraine disease isn’t only about dealing with pain, nausea, fatigue, and other physical symptoms. It’s also about handling the accompanying emotional and mental challenges.

In my new e-book, Finding Happiness with Migraines: A Do-It-Yourself Guide, I offer tips on how to create a daily life filled with joy, appreciation, and confidence – even in the midst of a migraine. Readers will learn:

  • Which yoga poses can help with a migraine attack;
  • Why you should throw away your daily migraine journal;
  • How do-it-yourself therapy can create positive change;
  • Techniques to connect with your body and intuition; and
  • How to fight the fear, isolation, and anger that so often accompany the disease.

I’m excited to finally have the opportunity to share the wisdom and insights I’ve gleaned from six years of chronic, often “intractable” migraine. I hope you find it worthwhile! The book is available on both Kindle and Nook, or as a PDF. Find out more here: http://www.absolutelovepublishing.com/Happiness_with_Migraines.html.

 

Overcoming Setbacks: Migraine Awareness Month #4

Living with migraines can be disheartening. Too often, the disease ruins our plans and makes us feel like we can’t accomplish our goals. On those days, it can be difficult to pick ourselves up out of the puddle of doubt we’ve landed in and forge ahead. But, it can be done.

If my experiences living with migraine disease have taught me anything, it’s this: I am stronger than I thought I was. And, so are you.

Living through the pain, nausea, vertigo, fatigue, uncertainty, and light and noise sensitivity of migraine isn’t easy. It takes bravery to make it through each day and an often unappreciated optimism to continue setting goals for ourselves even when we don’t always achieve them. These are characteristics we all share, and yet few of us routinely see ourselves as courageous, adventurous, and full of hope. But, we are. And, acknowledging that we are is one way we can overcome the setbacks migraine throws at us.

When I’m feeling particularly down or discouraged about my ability to make my life into what I want it to be, I remind myself of this: I’m still here; I’m still fighting. Migraine, despite everything, hasn’t beaten me. And, that is something to get excited about.

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June 2013, Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, is dedicated to Unmasking the Mystery of Chronic Headache Disorders. The 2013 Migraine and Headache Awareness Month Blog Challenge is a project of FightingHeadacheDisorders.com.

 

Migraine Superheros: Migraine Awareness Month #2

As is so often the case these days, I’m running a day behind.

I had planned to post a blog every day this month in honor of Migraine Awareness Month and the Migraine and Headache Awareness Month Blog Challenge. Unfortunately, June 1st turned into June 2nd without my having even logged onto the Internet, let alone posted a migraine blog. This time, however, I have a very good reason for missing my deadline: I was finishing my e-book Finding Happiness with Migraines, A Do It Yourself Guide, which will be released sometime next week!

I’ll be posting additional details about the book in the upcoming days. For now, I turn to the MHAM blog challenge of the day:

If I were to chose just one person to be my Migraine Superhero, it would have to be my husband. Though he doesn’t truly understand what a migraine feels like, he always understands when I need to take a break because of a bad one. On those occasions, he helps me get into bed, turns out the lights, instructs our ten-year-old to “let Mama rest,” and takes care of the baby. He cooks dinner, reads to the kids, and brings me whatever I need to get comfortable.

In our busy, busy household, where neither I nor my husband ever has a second of downtime, his actions are nothing short of miraculous.

He also never resents me for my illness nor shames me for feeling badly. He doesn’t try to make me feel guilty, and he always lets me know how much he loves me and appreciates me. I wish every migraineur a “superhero” as warm, loving, and kind as mine.

 

June 2013, Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, is dedicated to Unmasking the Mystery of Chronic Headache Disorders. The 2013 Migraine and Headache Awareness Month Blog Challenge is a project of FightingHeadacheDisorders.com.

The Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge 2012: Quotation Inspiration

This is my first writing prompt for the WEGO Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge. The first post was technically due yesterday, but as some of my readers may have realized, I’ve been rather absent these last six to eight weeks. So, I’m jumping in with Prompt #2 as my Prompt #1. (And, as has been the case so often of late, using one of my very limited “get out of post free” cards for yesterday.)

Today’s prompt asked us to write about a quote that inspires us. Mine is from Charles Darwin: “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

This always feels exceptionally relevant to me. I have written before about feeling less than able to accomplish my goals and dreams because of my migraines. When I get to feeling down and thinking about all of the things I cannot do, it is easy to forget that there are so many things I can do – especially if I figure out how to adapt in order to accomplish more of what I want to accomplish.

When I first became very ill, back in 2008, I was worried I would have to quit my full-time, high-pressure position as a Controller for a group of health clinics. Most days, I could barely stand to get out of bed. How, I thought, was I supposed to work 8 to 10 hours a day at the office?

The answer: I adapted.

I switched offices so that I could be far away from everyone else, and I began shutting my office door, in order to keep out any noise. I brought in a small lamp for my desk, and turned off my overhead lights. I also spoke to my boss, informed her of my situation, and began taking work home with me, so that if I really couldn’t get out of bed the next day, I could work from home. Eventually, I began working two to three days from home, where I could lay down while I worked. It wasn’t easy, and it did have its drawbacks, but it was better than it could have been.

Over time, I realized that the high-pressure world of accounting and finance management wasn’t where I wanted to be. And, with my ever-increasing migraines, it wasn’t what was best for me either. I had always been a writer, and had even worked as a part-time freelancer for about five years, so finally I decided to make the break and go full-time. I knew I would have control over my hours, my working environment, and the projects I accepted. The pay would be less – especially at first – and would also be sporadic, but it would give me what I needed and seemed to have so little of – control over my life.

It has now been almost three-and-a-half years since I made the switch, and I couldn’t be happier with the situation. There are trade-offs, of course, (feeling isolated, for instance) but overall I’m very happy with my decision. Not only do I have more power over my health, I also am able to do what I love every single day. By adapting in the face of tough odds, I feel I actually improved the quality of my life, despite the toll the disease has taken.

For those of you out there who are struggling with migraines or any other chronic illness, I encourage you to review your own situation for places where you may be able to introduce some change to bring about an improved quality of life. Change is always hard, and a little scary, at first, but it really does work. I wish you all the best.

Grief and the Search for Whatever Lies Beyond

Through three and a half months of the migraine that just will not go away the hardest thing for me to face is that I’m depressed.

Hard to believe that that’s what I have the hardest time handling in the face of ten different medications, numerous side effects, IVs, injections, blood tests, an MRI, specialists, and of course – the chronic (now – official) intractable pain. 

It’s not so strange though: in the depths of migraine madness I can no longer seem to reconcile the image of who I am with the person I’ve lately become. The person I remember is chipper. Outgoing. Optimistic. She laughs. The person staring back at me, tries.

It’s hard to do or be any of those things when every morning is accompanied by a relentless, pulsating nightmare of confusion, nausea, and pain.

I’m exhausted. And angry. Frustrated about the many – simple – things I’ve had to give up to the monster in my head for the sake of a peace I still haven’t found. Music. Lights. Singing. Yoga. Red wine. Beer. More than one margarita at a time. Running on Saturday mornings around the Lake with my SO. Chocolate. These are things I loved. 

But most of all, I feel guilty. 

Guilty because my disease could be so much worse than it is, and I should feel grateful that I’m not faced with one of hundreds of ailments that people all around the world struggle honorably with daily.

Guilty because I can’t pull myself up and shake myself off and be the chipper, bubbly personality every day that I (and those who love me) know, love, and depend on. 

For those who know, however, It’s difficult to function in the usual manner in a state of constant, severe pain. It’s not so easy to “manage” when all energies feel drained by mid-day.

What do you do when you can’t get out of your head because your head won’t stop screaming?