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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 November 11, 2019

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

4. Feed Your Brain

Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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6. Write it Down

If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

7. Listen to Music

Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

8. Visual Concepts

In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

9. Teach Someone Else

Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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