Migraine Awareness Week
Living with migraine
Migraine awareness week runs from 4th to 10th September 2016.
Having been a lifelong sufferer I thought I would share my own experience and how I try to manage my attacks. Of course your experience of migraine might be different to mine but if you aren’t sure, then the first step is to get a diagnosis from your GP.
Here it comes again – that migraine feeling
Migraine can run in families. My mother also suffered with frequent migraine attacks until she retired and my brother continues to suffer as well.
As fellow sufferers know, symptoms can vary from person to person and so can the triggers. My brother for example avoids chocolate and cheese because these are his triggers. My trigger is hormonal and linked to my monthly cycle.
The first signs of an imminent attack for me would be yawning more than usual, runny nose and a craving for something. I always felt that if I could find the illusive thing that I craved, then I would be cured. Interestingly all of the things I crave are sweet things.
If I miss the window to take my prescribed tablet, the migraine takes hold and lasts for 3 days. The pain is always over my right eye, but as I have gotten older the pain now starts from my neck and up the side of my head. It is an effort to keep my head upright. I cannot think straight and have difficulty stringing a sentence together and please don’t ask me to make a decision about anything no matter how simple. No change there some might say.
And then with a bad attack there would be a day of vomiting all day. The fourth day, after the migraine had passed would leave me feeling extremely drained.
I know that for other people their experiences and frequency of attacks will be different, but so debilitating for anyone who suffers with migraine.
It’s caused by what?
Although migraine may not be curable, they can be managed. The doctors I have seen over the years have usually asked if I feel stressed or anxious to which I always replied “No I don’t think so”.
I started to study hypnotherapy and learnt that a migraine was a form of panic attack. WHAT??? REALLY???
Well that revelation certainly got me thinking. Do you know, when I thought about the 2 recent attacks I’d had, I could actually pinpoint them to something that had raised my stress and anxiety levels. Well who knew?
As I continued to study and learn more about how our brains actually work it sort of started to make sense. I realised that perhaps I could start to manage my migraines a little more effectively instead of reaching for the medication.
What about the brain?
We have a part of the brain that is the original primitive part. It steps in to protect us in an emergency or if we’re facing danger. We release chemicals like cortisol and adrenaline which help us to either run or fight. But the primitive part of the brain cannot tell the difference between reality and imagination. It generally looks at everything in the worst case scenario. This means that we negatively forecast and start imagining all sorts of things going wrong. This leads to feelings of anxiety.
Negative thinking causes anxiety so by changing our thoughts to positive ones, we reduce our anxiety. When we think positively we produce a constant flow of Serotonin, (‘the happy hormone’), which means that we are able to cope a lot better in our everyday lives, both mentally and physically.
The way that we do that is through positive thinking, positive action and positive interaction. Doing some form of exercise or activity and spending time with family and friends all help.
I can only speak from personal experience of course but I have found that my migraines have been less frequent and less intense since I started to study and practice hypnotherapy. I try to focus on the here and now and think about the positive things and stop worrying about things that might never happen. I’m not saying it’s easy but it helps.
What else can help?
Alternative and complementary therapies, which although cannot claim to offer a cure, can help you to cope a lot better for example:-
- Herbal Remedies
For more information on Migraine