What It's Like Living with Migraines


I've been away for a long time. And being away kills me. I love blogging and social media-ing (yeah, I know it's not a verb, but I just made it one!), so forcing myself to take a break from the online world slightly was a bit of a challenge. As horrible as it was, I needed to take a break--I had started getting migraines very frequently. Since 7th grade I've suffered from regular migraines; the type of migraines that cause me to lose my vision, speak weird, and feel completely unlike myself. When I get a migraine it shuts me down and there is really nothing I can do about it.

A lot of people get headaches, but a very small percentage of the population actually gets migraines. When I explain a migraine to someone, often times it is hard for them to understand. A migraine cannot be compared to a headache in any sense. It does not feel the same, it does not affect my body the in a similar manner, and it does not simply go away with time.

Having a migraine usually starts with a premonition--I get super motivated and have a burst of energy. This isn't the case for everyone, but it is definitely a trigger for me. I usually overlook this first trigger as a side effect of some really good coffee and continue riding the high of productivity.

The next stage could come on in one hour or even as late as 24 hours later. My vision goes bad. This symptom is pretty noticeable, and I typically throw on my glasses in an effort to combat it and not strain my eyes any further. This part of a migraine is different than an aura because it happens all over my vision. Nothing is 100% clear anymore, it's like someone dropped a foggy transparency sheet over my eyes.

Finally, the aura comes. An aura is often considered the final warning of a migraine before the days worth of throbbing pain will begin to set in. If you aren't familiar with what an aura is, it can be compared to shimmering lights, spots of dull vision, and wavy lines. An aura is terrifying--you can't see, you can't rub the spots away, and you can't tilt your head to avoid the light shinning directly into your eye. When an aura begins I know I am done for the day. Even if it's 9am, I have to be done. I can't see to get homework done, I definitely can't use a computer any more, and I have to leave work because I can no longer function.

I've pushed through an aura before. Trust me, it was not worth it. My head throbbed even harder because I spent an hour straining my eyes trying to see through the blur. The best medicine at this stage is to take a nap. A few years ago when I saw a doctor about my migraines, she gave me some medicine to combat the headaches and subdue the feeling of nausea that sometime came with not being able to see properly. The nausea medicine knocks me right out and allows my body to rest. I think that this is the best medicine and is what I try to do whenever I get a migraine.

Some migraines end there, and others last for days. They continue to occasionally mess with my vision. And worst of all, they continue to pound at my head all week. The worst migraine I ever got was Freshman Year of college. It lasted 9 days, made me throw up everything I ate for almost a week, and forced me to stay home when I needed to go to class. This migraine also came with speech problems.

Speech problems are very rare and even more terrifying than an aura. Imagine trying to say something, thinking that you're saying it correctly, but then having your hearing tell you that that is not at all what you are actually saying. I called my mom crying the day that I had speech problems. I was terrified. And she couldn't understand a word I was saying on the other end of the phone. We had thought I was having a stroke.

Migraines can be absolutely the most scary moment in anyone's life. They definitely are for me. So, I wanted to learn what was causing them and how to make them stop. That's why I've taken a break from blogging. I cut back on the time I was on the computer straining my eyes (which was really hard since I work in the tech industry). I also cut back on caffeine. I gave up coffee which has helped reduce the amount of energy bursts I have thus creating less migraine symptoms. And finally, I took on yoga to help keep my body calm and relaxed.

Good news is, after this month long break, I have not had a migraine at all! I feel really great and feel as though I can handle a migraine and it's symptoms if they begin to arise again. Migraines are a dreadful thing to live with, and I am so glad that I feel as though I have gotten mine under control.

Thank you all for allowing me to take this break! Danyell Bailey's blog is back for business!!