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9 Things Only People With Migraines Would Understand

9 Things Only People With Migraines Would Understand

Migraines drive me crazy. Like…insane. They’re simply debilitating. People who don’t get them think we are being babies or that we aren’t “tough enough to handle a headache.”

Most people who know me know I’m tough. I’ve done marathons and triathlons. I’ve been through several heart surgeries. None of them compared to the pain of my migraines, which I’ve dealt with all my life. Apparently, I’ve passed them on to my children. (Isn’t that nice of me?)

There’s no way one can truly understand the force of a migraine unless he or she actually experiences it. I hope, for your sake, you never do. For the rest of you, I wish you whatever it takes to keep you from cutting off your own head. Trust me. I’ve been there.

These are the things understood by sufferers of migraines everywhere:

1. Migraines are NOT just bad headaches.

A migraine is actually a collection of symptoms that make up a syndrome. And it’s more than “just” a headache. It’s a bunch of pain and sickness and sensitivities that all come together to ruin your life.

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2. The symptoms of migraines are different for everyone.

Symptoms include: Pain, throbbing, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, visual disturbances, sensitivities to light, sound, taste and smell, and trouble sleeping/waking. There are more, but these are the main symptoms. How many do you experience?

I get dizzy and sick. My son can’t deal with light. My daughter needs quiet time. These symptoms can be strong enough to interrupt school, work or sleep.

3. Symptoms can change.

So here is some awesome news: Your symptoms can morph over time. They may also progress over time. The good news is, studies show that you won’t always experience the same crappy feelings every time you have a migraine.

But seriously…how can they get worse? Go to hell, migraines.

4. Migraines are wicked enough to send you packing.

Packing for the ER, that is. Did you know that every 10 seconds a person checks in to an emergency department in the United States with a migraine or headache pain? That’s freaking ridiculous. If it hurts enough to send your ass to the ER, it’s probably not “just a headache.” You’ve either been knocked in the head with a baseball bat, or you have a migraine.

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I don’t know which is worse.

5. Migraines have made the list!

Migraines carry so much power, they’ve made the list of the top 20 of the world’s most disabling medical illnesses. That’s serious. People miss work every day because of migraines. It’s not a good idea to ask them to tough it out. What if you were a passenger on the plane of which the pilot was suffering a debilitating migraine? Or the waitress delivering your food, who promptly pukes on you as she lays the plate down on the table?

You think I’m joking. I’m not — it’s that bad.

6. And then there are the menstrual migraines.

As if PMS and periods don’t suck enough, many women suffer from menstrual migraines as well. These come on strong and last longer. They’re also more difficult to treat as they don’t respond as well to typical migraine medicines. Those days before our period, when our migraines hit, DO NOT talk about PMS. We’re likely to strangle you.

Of course, we can’t get out of bed or turn the lights on or stop vomiting, but we’ll vow to get you once we’re done with all this female stuff — so you better watch it.

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7. The drugs don’t help.

We’re not talking illegal drugs. They might help, for all I know.

There are over one hundred prescription and over-the-counter medications available for migraines. They work to prevent or treat symptoms. They work for half of us. Some sufferers need to take daily medication to prevent or lower the frequency of the migraines.

8. There are well-known triggers.

When we tell people we have migraines, there’s always that one person in the crowd who likes to spout off the triggers. For the record, I’m never giving up chocolate (apparently, a trigger.) Red wine can cause migraines. Switch to white. (I just made that part up. I have no idea if white wine is better for your headaches, but at least you don’t have to give it all up.) Skipping meals can cause migraines — so by all means, don’t diet. Feel free to eat and tell people, “My doctor prescribed it.” What? It’s true. On that note, I should mention intense physical exertion sometimes causes migraines. You’ll have to modify your exercise plan.

High altitude, motion (as in amusement park rides or boats), lack of sleep (party days are over), bright or flickering lights (no more raves for you) are all triggers.

Even emotional stress can be a catalyst for a migraine. So get some therapy.

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9. Migraines are equal-opportunity attackers.

You wouldn’t know it, but these people suffer(ed) from migraines:  Thomas Jefferson, Elvis, Anne Frank, Whoopi Goldberg, Vincent Van Gogh, Elizabeth Taylor, Terrell Davis and even Julius Caesar.

There’s nothing anyone can say or do to make migraines better. At least not at the time. They suck. What we need are prescriptions, dark rooms, barf buckets and lots of quiet time. Oh, and someone doting on us because we’re suffering unimaginable pain. Maybe some chocolate (without a lecture that it will only make the migraine worse.)

As long as you don’t say, “It’s just a headache,” no one will get hurt.

Featured photo credit: kizzzbeth via flickr.com

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Missy Mitchell

Author, Artist, Advocate

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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