After nearly 2 years of no migraines at all, I’ve recently had a spate of them. Mild ones, compared to the full-day extravaganzas I used to get in my teens and early twenties, but still not much fun. Migraines, for those of you who aren’t familiar, are not just bad headaches. Saying a migraine is a bad headache is like saying a broken leg is a bad bruise.
They’re different for everyone, but for me they usually start with either visual ‘aura’ or gradually losing my sight, going numb down one side, then headache and sometimes nausea, followed by a couple of days of intense fatigue and difficulty concentrating. In the middle of a migraine I usually can’t speak, I can’t recall people’s faces (very weird) and I can’t spell. One of the ways I test whether I’m through the worst of it is whether I can spell “Spot” in my head.
So, clearly migraines are no fun. However, dealing with them since about the age of 12 has forced me to learn some very valuable lessons:
Health has to come first. Migraines are obviously a fairly extreme example, but if I sacrifice health in favour of anything else, whatever ‘anything else’ is rapidly becomes impossible for me to actually do.
If you can’t work, the world is unlikely to end. If I have a full day of work planned and I get a migraine in the morning, it’s tempting to get frustrated. However, stress just makes it worse and I can honestly say that nothing terrible has ever happened due to not being able to work/study during a migraine.
Get help early. There’s no point suffering in silence, whatever your circumstances. For me, I have a 10-15 minute window to take medication, explain what’s happening and ideally lie down in a dark room (or call my husband to rescue me from midtown Manhattan if that is where the migraine strikes. Waiting for him on a street corner, unable to see, was a great trust exercise!)
You can’t control everything. There’s a lot we can do to support our health, from eating well to practising yoga, but some things just happen to us for genetic or other reasons. It took me a long time to stop blaming myself for getting migraines.
Laughter really is medicine. Laughing or smiling actually alleviates pain somewhat during a migraine.
Migraines can be highly debilitating, and I’m grateful that mine are now infrequent and generally mild enough not to disrupt my life for more than a couple of days at a time. I’m also grateful that they’ve regularly reminded me to slow down and put my health first, which goes against all my Type A instincts!
Listening to our bodies, even when it feels like they’re trying to kill us, is incredibly important. Putting our health first, and building on that foundation, is the best way to set ourselves up for sustainable success, which is why all our work is built on a solid base of wellbeing. If you’re interested in working with us or just finding out a bit more, please give us a call on 07832 692 412.