This post was very hard for me to write and share as I normally don’t get too personal here on Beauty Baking Bella. I have wanted to share this post for a long time and now, for some reason or another, I feel it is now right for me to share my experience with living with chronic migraines.
WHERE MY STORY STARTS
I have been a migraine sufferer since I was a little girl, I remember having migraine headaches when I was in Primary School. Doctors would always send me for blood tests and scans and the results would come back normal. I have always been a healthy weight, been active and eat relatively well but I still suffered terrible with the pain. As I got older, I developed self-care techniques I would use to avoid migraines and when they did suddenly hit, I have a routine of how to cope.
COPING WITH MIGRAINES
Coping with migraines is a very difficult task. They can come on very suddenly and no one knows exactly what triggers them. Previously when I got a migraine, I would always turn to paracetamol to help ease the pain. I was taking them like I was eating smarties and over the years they became ineffective to the pain. I would take myself off to my bedroom, which I would make sure was pitch black, dive under the covers of my bed, stick my eye mask on and try to sleep it off! These migraines would usually last anywhere from a few hours to a few days and it started to affect my way of life.
Talking to someone about suffering with migraines can be very difficult, it is a disease you can not physically see and for that reason, I have felt people have been very dismissive about it. All the times I couldn’t make it to my lectures at University or had to have sick days from work, ringing into my employer was difficult as I was always made to feel bad, with their attitude always being, ‘well it’s just a headache drink some water, pop some paracetamol and man up!’ If only this was the cure but unfortunately it is not as simple as that! I would have 3-4 migraines a week so situations like this became very stressful!
SYMPTOMS OF MIGRAINES
The symptoms I get before or during a migraine include –
- sensitivity to the light
- neck and head pain
- pain and congestion in my nose and between my eyes
- heaviness in my neck and shoulders
- tingling in my hands and feet (I drop things all the time!)
- nausea and vomiting
- lack of energy and lethargic
- whole body aches
SEEKING MEDICAL HELP
After my second pregnancy, I started to suffer with a chronic pain in between my eyes and my nose was always congested, I would feel exhausted even after a good nights sleep and my whole body would ache. My then doctor originally started treating me for allergies but the medication and nasal sprays we ineffective. I was then prescribed antibiotics, every 4-6 weeks for nearly a year and initially after taking the course of antibiotics I would feel a lot better, but as the months went on, again, this type of medication didn’t help.
KEEPING TRACK OF MY HEALTH
During this time I would keep a food diary to monitor what foods may be triggering these migraines, I am still not 100% sure but cutting out milk, potatoes and gluten products has helped the regularity of these migraines.
I always exercise, every week I go to the gym, I go to pilates class twice a week as well as practice yoga and meditation at home. These physical activities have helped a lot in terms of elevating my stress levels and keeping me calm and positive.
I then went to see a different doctor and he knew right away after listing my symptoms that I was suffering from chronic Migraines and a illness called Fibromyalgia. My body was constantly aching, I was always feeling sick, I kept losing my appetite and it was affecting my thoughts and my moods. He told me to stop taking paracetamol as it had made the migraines become chronic so I have since stopped buying and using them when it comes to pain relief.
WHICH MEDICATION AND TREATMENTS HELP ME
This is when he prescribed me Amitriptyline, I take a couple of these at night before I go to bed This medication helps to relax my mind and gives my body a positive sense of well-being, relieving anxiety and tension which I believe is one of the true causes of my migraines – stress! This medications helps me to sleep better, which in turn increases my energy levels and allows my body to not ache as much the next day. Amitriptyline is a form of anti-depressant but I don’t use it for that reason. Initially, I was very worried to start taking these as I remember when I was in my teenage years on anti-depressant for server depression the side effects I had, but after discussing these concerns with my doctor he was very support and insistent that this medication alone was what my body needed to function normally again and he was right! They started to kick in after just one week and my migraines have dramatically decreased to a few times a month, which is a massive improvement from the usual 3 a week.
As there is no cure for migraines, I do still get them, usually if I am very stressed and tense or if I have eaten something that hasn’t agreed with me. That is where Sumatriptan comes in, I take one of these tablets on the onset of a developing migraine and take another one 2 hours later, these bad boys save me! Before, I used to take paracetamol, which would only take the edge off, but this medication actually gets rid of the pain within a couple of hours so I am able to continue on with my day or have a great nights sleep. If the migraine develops too quickly for the medications to kick in, I also take a couple of Co-codamol tablets for pain relief. Migraine sufferers will all have different symptoms that accompany their migraines, whether it’s nausea, vomiting or aura like flashing lights and zig zag lines in your vision. I always have nausea and in some cases vomiting so after taking my medication I also have an anti-sickness tablet that I pop in the inside of my mouth between my upper gum and my lip. This helps so much and prevents vomiting if the migraine has brought on nausea.
My go-to medications/ treatment to help me cope with migraines –
- Cooling Headache & Migraine Pads
- Sleep Eye-Mask
- A dark bedroom, my bed and lots of water and rest
WHY ARE MIGRAINES NOT RECOGNISED AS A DISABILTY
Migraines are a topic that is still not widely spoken about or appreciated as a disability. Personally, living with chronic migraines affects my daily life, which can cause me to cancel plans last minute, it makes looking after my children difficult and unfortunately I have no support so the stress that is brought on by the migraine worries me a lot if I am on my own with the children.
I have friends and family that just don’t understand how unwell I can get and sometimes they don’t always show the support I need. The fact I have to cancel plans or don’t respond to their phone calls and texts straight away or even in the same day annoys them and can lead me to become more stressed when they not understand my struggle.
I hope by sharing this post and the ways I try and cope with this chronic disease will help someone else who suffers also or just to help raise awareness that migraines can stop a person from living a normal life. I believe as a migraine suffer, it should be recognised as a form of disability as we have no control when they occur. One of the reasons I believe this, is it can help people like myself to provide better support in the work place and for all doctors to be more undertstanding an appreciative of how this pain can affect the whole body. Like I said before, I was misdiagnosed many times and this made it worse.
TAKING EACH DAY AS IT COMES
I live my life being mindful of what I eat, regular exercise and daily meditation to keep my body happy, healthy and pain free. During those bad days, which I unfortunately still have, I remain positive as I know that combined with the prescription medication and my healthy and happy lifestyle I can take each day as it comes and try to continue on with my day to day living. My husband is my rock and is so supportive, when I have my bad days I know I can count on him to make sure I take all my meds and sends me off to rest when he gets in from a long day at work and gets the kids all sorted for bed, tidies the house and takes the weight off my shoulders. We get by and for that I am grateful for his strength and support!
If you are interested in changing or improving your lifestyle for a happy and healthier you check out my tips here.
CONNECTING WITH OTHER SUFFERERS
If you are a chronic migraine sufferer or have fibromyalgia and want to talk then please feel free to message me any time on my socials or email me. I would love to talk to someone else who suffers like me. Any other tips to help get me through my day to day life would be very much appreciated. I don’t currently use any support groups or charities but if anyone recommends any for my condition please let me know in the comments below.
*I am not a doctor and have been recommended these medications from my GP, if you need medical advice see your GP