10 things I want people to know about people who suffer from migraines.
Seriously. A migraine is not just a headache. It is not just a bad headache. It is a disease. If you suffer, as I do, with chronic migraines, it is disability. The list of things that go along with having them is extensive. Here are the top ten for me, and I really want people to understand it. Not feel bad for me, I don’t want that. I just want understanding.
The Pain – Seems kinds of obvious. A migraine headache, according to my neurologist, can be debilitating or slightly annoying. When one suffers with migraines, each headache they get is considered either a migraine or a pre/post headache. I suffer through around 15 a month. Do all of them require prescription medication? No. At least 8 a month do though. Eight. If you have never had a bad headache, or a migraine it is hard to imagine, but try if you will to imagine 8 days out of 30 with a sever headache and almost as many with a slightly less annoying one.
Fatigue – oh my gosh. The never ending fatigue is enough to drive you crazy. If you aren’t tired because one is coming, you are tired because one is going. Or you are tired because your medicine makes you tired. Or you are tired because you were up with a migraine. See? You get tired of saying…I am tired. I am not depressed, or sad, or angry…I am happy, but I am tired. All. The. Time. Tired
Memory problems – serious ones. Why did I come into the room? What was I working on? What word…what is word…? Where did I place that thing? How old am I? Left on red is a thing right? It comes and goes but it is pretty bad. The other day I couldn’t remember why I went into my kitchen, sure fine a lot of people do that. So what did I do? I started cleaning one of the cabinets – Point is I get side tracked very easily. Which leads me to…
Concentration issues – Typical work day. Report, report, looking at report, oh I wonder if amazon has a thing, checks amazon, NO REPORT, report, oh I forgot to something…NO REPORT, report, I think I will check my email, NO REPORT!!! And so on and so on…all day long.
Trouble finding words – This is a big one for me. I am constantly trying to remember words and it is awful. Or saying them wrong. I once was talking to my husband about Christmas and said “We should get Grate a photo-book. What I meant was “Greer and Nate” instead my brain combined their names into Grate. I couldn’t figure out why he was laughing…I said it again….Grate…get Grate the photo-book why is that funny? It was than that I heard what I was saying and still couldn’t piece together Greer AND Nate. That is just one small example. It may sound funny, it may even be funny, but it makes social anxiety more fun when you feel like you might make this mistake in group.
Mood changes – again typical day. YAY! Happy! two minutes later – WHAT THE F*CK IS GOING ON? two minutes later: I suck, life sucks, sucky suck suckaroo, two minutes later YAY LIFE IS AMAZING LOOK AT THE SKY! Obviously it isn’t always that bad, but you get the idea. It is like being a teenager again. You know you are going to get a migraine depending on the severity of a mood shift. If I am really grumpy I can almost tell it will happen.
Aura – not something like “You are a yellow” but smells (for me anyway) that precursor a migraine. Usually my smells suck. I smell a garbage smell, or something burning.
It’s not “Just a headache” – that is like saying a broken arm is “Just a sprain” A migraine lasts for days. The headache itself can last for days or only a few hours. For some lucky people, they have “Cluster Migraines” which is exactly how it sounds. One migraine gives way to another and you spend a week either with the pain, or one of the above symptoms.
The medications – While they work wonders when you are having an attack, they can cause their own list of issues. The medication I take makes it difficult to swallow, increases sensitivity on my skin, and makes my chest feel heavy. I suffer through this knowing that there might be relief from the war going on in my head.
Time Lost – or quality time lost. “Lets go to the park mom!” Me…bright lights and noisy children equals triggers for migraines… Going anywhere requires preventive medication. Before going to an amusement park for example, I have to make sure the day won’t be too hot or too cold, take Advil (to prevent or hold off the headache), take Dramamine, to warn off motion sickness, drink tons of water (where is the bathroom again?), and still I inevitably get the migraine. Over stimulation mixed with everything else. We went to the Natural History Museum and I had a migraine that night. Again – over stimulation, crowds, changes in lighting, traveling. All known triggers.
It sucks knowing that you will get a migraine if you do something fun. Or the chance is there. It doesn’t stop me though. I still go out and do things. I still work. But it sucks that migraines control so much of my life. Work suffers, home time suffers, relaxing is even hard. I really wish people knew that. Knew the sacrifices people with migraines make. Know that if they stare off into space they aren’t being rude, but the wiring sometimes shorts in our brains. When we say “we have a migraine” what we really mean is we are not only in pain, we are suffering from a slew of other problems. When we go to bed early after an attack, we aren’t weak…we aren’t lazy…we are recovering. We treat our non-migraines days like gold. Though we are glad you don’t suffer with them, a little understanding and patience is greatly appreciated.