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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 September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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