Patient Blogs | Migraine
What a Migraine Is Like for Me
photo of woman holding head

As a Dexter fan, I think of my migraine episodes as my dark passenger. They are always lurking in the background. They are my uninvited guest, my unwanted plus-one. But through it all, my migraine episodes have put me in tune with my body, taught me to stop sweating the small stuff, and made me a kinder, more empathetic person.

My migraines fluctuate in frequency and severity. In my mid-20s, they were so severe my "momager" had to fly to town, and I was hospitalized and put on morphine. I had been in migraine mode for over a week and could barely make the phone call for help. Please, if you are experiencing repeat events, do not try and be a superhero. Let someone in your inner circle know you need help.

As someone who prides herself on clearly articulating her thoughts, it is challenging to describe a migraine. I've never been pregnant, so I've always wondered whether there is a parallel to the intense labor pains of octuplets. I would describe my migraine pain as being stabbed repeatedly in the head, eyes, and neck while someone is squeezing a corset that has been placed on my head for some odd reason. I am talking about full-body pain. All sound, light, aromas, and auras intensify. I have intense nausea and dizziness mixed in with clearly hearing every beat of my heart and pretty much thinking I'm dying. Sometimes, I have felt what I can only describe as the Earth's rotation sped up before an eventual blackout.  

Wow. If it sounds brutal, imagine being on the receiving end. My vision is better than 20/20 --something I attribute to my fondness of raw carrots since childhood. The first time I experienced temporary vision loss in my left eye from my migraine was super scary. Sometimes there's extreme blurriness and weird shapes in the form of a psychedelic-like pattern. Sometimes I can cry myself to sleep. And sometimes, the pain is too overwhelming to cry. I'm an extrovert, but I want to be in darkness during a migraine episode, often with a cool compress over my eyes, the lights off, and left alone.

I'm creative, so when I first experienced migraine symptoms, I would imagine horrors like having a blinding episode in the shower, dying, and not being found for days. Fortunately, that drama never played out in real life. Since then, I've connected my migraine episodes to my monthly cycle, barometric pressure, whether we're in retrograde, and even my karma in my unscientific research.

I would not wish migraine episodes upon my worst enemies. And on a much lighter note, one of the benefits of aging is that my migraine battles are decreasing significantly. I have learned about food and lifestyle triggers. (Goodbye, Twizzlers and red wine. Hello, yoga and meditation.) But if there's one thing I know now that I wish I'd known when I was younger, it's that migraine episodes should not be a cause of shame. They’re not a punishment, and you are not alone in your suffering. It's OK not to be OK. Everyone experiences symptoms differently, and most importantly, our stories can serve as a needed support system for other migraine warriors.



Tap into a community of fellow migraineurs on Facebook. Learn, share, connect in our Migraine Support Community.


Photo Credit: Prostock-Studio / iStock via Getty Images Plus

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Naki Carter

Naki Carter

Diagnosed since 2001

For nearly 20 years, Naki Carter has been living with migraine. Formerly an award-winning journalist, she is committed to ending the stigma around the invisible illness. Carter lives in South Florida near lots of family and friends, where she enjoys a daily dose of “vitamin sea.” Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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