Patient Blogs | Migraine
Lessons I Learned From Writing About Migraine For a Year
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So, it’s been a year of writing about migraine – more than I’ve ever done in my life – and wow, have I learned a lot! I went to school where I was both a student and a teacher. 

After living with chronic migraines since my teen years, I assumed I had turned over every stone. Well, that couldn’t have been further from the truth. In fact, I recognized that the study of any one condition truly is a lifelong pursuit. 

Here are 12 things I learned over the course of a year writing about my migraine episodes. 

  1. Life is different. I took stock of all of the ways migraines have impacted my life, and I was blown away. From travel and work to my social and love life – migraines have been a constant element. I didn’t realize just how present they’d been through these years. They are truly a major part of my life. More than I knew.
  2. My reliance on meds is real. There are two types of meds I never leave home without – my prescription migraine pills (which I keep in my wallet at all times) and my asthma rescue inhaler. I’m not the type that likes to be tied down, but I’ve learned that these are things I should never leave home without – at least for now. 
  3. Prep is key. In recent years, I’ve stopped being “surprised” by migraine episodes and have become much more of a planner. If I’m going out with friends or preparing for a big project at work, I try my best to set myself up for success. That means bringing my meds (see #2), making sure I keep some snacks on me, and doing things that would reduce stress around both my daily tasks and major projects. 
  4. Family dynamics are a factor. Migraines run on my mom’s side of the family. I didn’t notice until this year while blogging about migraines that how I approach them has a lot to do with how my mom, aunts, and cousins have. For example, grabbing a cup of coffee as a first step has been ingrained in my family for years. Going to lie down without much explanation is another “how we do it.” More importantly, my strength through years of migraine episodes is due in large part to watching the fortitude of my mother and aunts. 
  5. I’m not hearing about a lot of new options. After many years of living with migraine, I can’t say I’m hearing a lot of new things about the condition. This has me curious to dig a little deeper. Both the treatments and triggers seem about the same. In some ways, this is comforting. In other ways, it’s concerning to think that there aren’t a lot of new options for people like myself with migraine. 
  6. I’ve adapted. I’m a survivor. I have lived with chronic migraines for more than 30 years without totally losing it. Yay for me! As I look back, I noted that I have developed hacks that have worked for me and others that are more tried and tested. Either way, the curveballs thrown by migraine have been constantly batted away by me. I feel pretty good about that.
  7. My family loves me. I spoke to my family and friends more about migraines this year than any other year. I was constantly overwhelmed by just how much compassion and love they had for me. So many were sorry to know I’d been dealing with migraine for so long. Others wanted to know how they could help. My 9-year-old nephew said he’d pray for me. Sometimes hugs and love from family and friends are all you need to get through. 
  8. There are triggers everywhere. I was well aware of the common triggers for me – my menstrual cycle, chocolate, aged cheeses, and stress. I wasn’t so tuned into triggers such as grief and overworking. Greater awareness of these things will only help me manage my migraine episodes more effectively. 
  9. Migraines and mental health go hand-in-hand. Living with any medical condition for a long time can wear on you. Why can’t I just go out without worrying if I have my migraine pills on hand? Why can’t I just get cramps instead of unpredictable migraine episodes? Am I a burden to friends and co-workers? Managing my migraines has also meant minding my mental health. I’ve had to learn that despite the challenges of life, there are still joys and blessings all around. I’ve reserved space to be honest about my feelings. Living with migraine is not fun. It’s OK to have bad days. It’s also OK to cherish good days. 
  10. Implicit bias is real. Racism in the medical field (or in any industry) is still unfortunately a part of life. I’ve encountered things that I am quite sure had some microaggressions attached or some discounting of my symptoms involved. Being an advocate for your own health is one powerful way to combat this. If this means changing doctors – do it! 
  11. Life without migraines looks like … At this point in life, I can’t imagine life without migraine. How might my world change for the better? What new opportunities would open to me? What more might I be able to accomplish? I’d like to spend more time in the coming year exploring this question.
  12. There is hope. OK, this is a cheesy way to wrap this up, but it’s a reality I stumbled upon this year for migraine more than ever. I spoke to soooo many people who had migraine episodes most of their lives and now – due to lifestyle changes or new treatments – were living migraine-free. If they can do it … maybe I can too. 

This migraine journey has reminded me of a quote by Mahatma Gandhi: “It is health that is the real wealth, and not pieces of gold and silver.” 

 

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

 

 

 

Photo Credit: vitapix / E+ via Getty Images

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Michele Jordan

Michele Jordan

Diagnosed since 1992

Michele Jordan, a Los Angeles-based freelance writer, was diagnosed with migraine in 1992. Her writing background includes magazine and online journalism, grant writing, and now screenwriting. She is passionate about both physical and mental health and is the author of the book, Thanking Your Way to Joy: Daily Gratitude Journal. When not writing, Michele enjoys traveling with her husband, trying new, healthy recipes, and cuddling beagles. Her latest passion includes exploring and discussing issues around equity in housing, health care, and the justice system.

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