I never wanted to be an advocate for migraines, because nothing I tried worked. I know this sounds very negative, but it’s my truth.
I can’t tell you how many people said, “don’t be an accountant, you’re giving yourself migraines” or “its just a headache, get over it.”
I’ve tried everything from A – Z and when I say that I know that that really is impossible now a days with all the treatments currently available. But I did think I’d tried everything on many occasions.
No matter what I did nothing reduced my migraine attacks. And I tried things for 18 months, not just 3 months or once… I was stubborn, I was told I could cure my attacks, so I kept trying.
My migraine attacks started about 8 months after a car accident, so my first attempt to remedy the pain was to see a chiropractor, and osteopath… to help with structural alignment. I had this ongoing for many years. And when I say many, probably 20 years.
Then it was assumed it could be from the stress from my job, so I changed that. And then it was from my anger, so I went to anger workshops… so many workshops. And then it was my hormones and even though the specialists said adamantly it was not my hormones, I knew it was related.
My relationship could not withstand the upheaval, so it broke down. I was left alone. I had moved to a country on the other side of the world for love, something I said I’d never do, and now I was here with no friends, and no family. He got the friends in the divorce as they were mostly work friends.
And then I spiraled into depression – I don’t want to say for how many years – its embarrassing. But what it did do was this:
- I sought help through professional counselling and got a pain management strategy sorted out. I didn’t find effective abortive medications for 14 years…
- I started studying nutrition and energetical healing, and learned different forms of meditation.
- I changed what I ate, how I ate, what and how I thought. I even changed how I breathe.
- I found a passion in Chinese Medicine, acupuncture and using food as medicine.
So, as I had to learn to deal with setbacks, I learned new coping skills as well.
I had to learn to cope with my overwhelming emotions.
Had to? Chose to! I chose to get more control over what was happening to my body and at times that seems futile.
When I was studying TCM and energetic healing I was told that our bodies always come back to balance, it returns to homeostasis. I spent many years striving for that balance. Often to my detriment.
This is not the case with migraines. Our feedback loop can get stuck in pain and it keeps going.
In many ways I’ve had to unlearn what I’ve learned to deal with migraines. They are not all in our heads – they do start in the brain and they also effect numerous systems in our bodies. It is a complex and complicated disorder.
Flash forward 26 years… I am migraine free. I’ve not had a migraine for 3 years, except for the one time I had a friend stay and she put perfume on in my house.
That one exposure alone caused 18 migraines and took me 2 months to recover from.
Here are just a few tips to help you build emotional resilience, something I teach in my book and online course, so you can gain some control back over the attacks (where humanly possible!):
- Number one is always to get the right diagnosis from your doctor and then a headache specialist. Most physicians are not trained in migraine. You have to know what type of migraine you have so you can treat it.
- If you really don’t want to (or can’t) take medication, make sure you take time to develop an alternative pain management strategy. This is crucial. But, it’s definitely worth experimenting with medication, just so you can have the right ones at your fingertips should you change your mind.
- My very best piece of advice: learn to identify your early warning signs and symptoms. You can reduce the severity of your migraine significantly if you act early enough. Getting your timing right is an essential part of managing your migraines. Both my book and course cover this in depth.
- If you choose alternative therapies, make sure they know migraines too. And make sure they can test for what’s going on, not just treat from symptoms. There is too much room for error in my opinion! Like Erin, who’s credentials alone speak volumes, never mind that she’s a migraine sufferer herself. Or was!
- It’s OK to be scared. The pain, the uncertainty, the anxiety… it can feel so overwhelming and insurmountable. But getting your medication sorted, as well as creating your pain management strategy, and having ‘survival’ plans in place can help to ease the fear a lot.
It’s so easy to feel hatred towards the migraines and your body, and to be consumed by loathing about it all. But try and be kind and gentle with yourself. If you can, find somewhere in your body that doesn’t hurt and direct positive energy towards that instead of focusing on the pain.
Persevere. Things will get better. You’ll learn what to do, and how to help your body and learn new skills to cope with these attacks. Learn to what to do and when to act and your stress and anxiety will reduce dramatically.
If you want more, I wrote this book to help you! Migraine Management: How To Reduce Anxiety, Manage Pain and Prevent Attacks on Amazon.
Holly Hazen is an award-winning author, with her teachings available globally. Her long-standing career in the mental health arena includes nutrition, Chinese medicine, energetic healing, and a Master’s Degree in Counseling and Psychotherapy. She is also a seasoned migraine sufferer of 26 years. Learn more about Holly and her expert advice in her book Migraine Savvy and Migraine Pain Management e-Course
Great post! I really enjoyed reading your five tips! Thanks for sharing your story of perseverance.
This is such a great post. I love that you highlighted number 1 – get the right diagnosis!!! It is so important. Once we know what we are facing, we can really get to the right treatment! And, knowing your symptoms! No one knows us better than ourselves! Excellent advice!
Migraines are the worst! You’re right: It’s nothing negative, and just the truth when nothing works. This is a great post, and I thank you for sharing these tips.
Getting the diagnosis is so important. I suffer from migraines, but only very few times a year, thankfully. But for years I just thought it was normal, super bad headache every once in awhile. So glad I got the diagnosis
This is a great article with practical advice. I’ve only had migraines a few times, but they are terrible to deal with! Thank you for sharing!
I am blessed to not have to deal with headaches. But, I am my own issues like teeth clenching and whatnot!! Always something to deal with!
This section definitely struck me – “Persevere. Things will get better.” Yes! Things will be better if we put our hearts and passion on each things we do. Sometimes, it does not go our way but it will help us eventually.