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A migraineur entrepreneur: yes, it can be done!

In the very early days of my blog, I talked about how my headache specialist recommended I not work a full-time job right out of graduate school.

My migraine episodes were frequent and severe enough that a 40 hour/week job was not for me—at least that’s what was suggested to me. But, at least for this migraine sufferer, barely working part-time wasn’t cutting it. It didn’t help my routine or my sleep schedule, and I didn’t feel fulfilled working the part-time jobs I held for years. I love kids, so babysitting and tutoring were wonderful in ways, but something was missing. I love editing, but being a professional editor for life doesn’t feel like the way my life should go. So I did what many people are doing during this time of financial upheaval: I went ahead and tackled a lifelong dream, to open my own business.

I knew that life would change once we went from an online and events-based bookstore to a brick & mortar “real life” bookshop, but man oh man, was I underprepared for what was to come! I am thrilled to report that I’ve only had a few workdays so far that were significantly impacted by migraine, and my very understanding staff took the helm when I needed them.

This is not to say things are totally smooth from a health perspective. I’m still skipping meals like crazy, and I spent the first few weeks of business working well over a hundred hours a week (and that is just on bookstore stuff–that doesn’t include my part-time writing and editing jobs!). My sister, my boyfriend, and a couple of dear friends all approached me to say how wonderfully well the store was going but that I needed to take a step back. That I would crash and burn if I kept going at the rate I was going. It was hard to agree with them—my business was off to a terrific start, I was in the shop from 9 until 9 every day, and the feedback was phenomenal. But luckily I started to see some signs of burnout when I was on my tenth and eleventh hours of work, and their words of wisdom came rushing back.
It was hard to do, but I scaled back my hours significantly and gave keys to my small staff, all of whom I trust. I implemented systems through which they didn’t need to call or email me all the time throughout the day. Eventually, I will take not hours but a couple of days off a week. I’ll get there.

How do you entrepreneur migraineurs do it? What challenges did you face in starting your business, and how is it going now?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Louise M. Houle
    7 years ago

    Congratulations, Janet. And thanks for the inspiration!

  • Janet Geddis
    7 years ago

    Thank you! 😉

  • Tammy Elder Rome
    7 years ago

    Congrats! I’m an entrepreneur, too. I have a private counseling practice that specializes in marriage & couples. I think it’s easier to be successful as my own boss while living with Migraines. I don’t have arbitrary rules placed upon me that limit the amount and type of time off I need to take to manage the Migraines. I am also able to control my own office environment so that it is migraine-friendly. The lighting is low and natural (no flourescent bulbs), humidity and temperature-controlled, with no overpowering scents, longer lunch hours and flexible work times.

    I answer to my clients and myself. Everyone gets a “migraine disclosure” that explains my condition and how it may impact their work with me. No one has ever quit therapy, complained, or asked for a referral as a result of the migraines.

    Sometimes I can work 50-60 hours in a week. Other times, I barely work 20. I have to be a very good money manager to set aside extra during productive weeks to make up for the not-so-productive ones. It’s all about balance and good self-care. I do much better when I feel I am living my whole life, not just being a “slave” to my job. Working for myself gives me that freedom better than working for someone else.

    The only down side is that I have to pay for 100% of my health care. It’s a price I can live with.

  • Janet Geddis
    7 years ago

    Tammy, thank you for your thoughtful reply! I am going to keep in mind what you’ve written here–very helpful.

  • Charles Andrew Lininger
    7 years ago

    Acupuncture experience: today patient who regularlay has three day migraine reported less pain and just during one day. Hint of a H/A today, Windows of Sky points and H/A gone. I see this kind of result more than five times a week. Willing to share more.

  • Teri Robert
    7 years ago

    Congratulations, Janet!

  • Janet Geddis
    7 years ago

    A belated thank you, Ellen & Teri! 🙂

  • Ellen Schnakenberg
    7 years ago

    Yay Janet!!

  • Pamela Curtis
    7 years ago

    I could not work 100h a week. I was disabled from my migraines. I couldn’t work 4 hours a *week* until very recently, and now I’m finally getting to the point I can pull off a few hours a day, every few days. I still need to pace it very slowly, however. I have no idea why you were told you couldn’t hold a full-time job.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    5 years ago

    Hi Pamela,

    I somehow didn’t ever read your 1/14/12 response until now. I guess I see it as a success story because I believed what my neurologist told me. The success part of the success story came in when I realized I could challenge myself more than my doctor thought I was able to.

    Point taken, though. I definitely see what you mean about my presentation!

    I hope this comment finds you well.

  • Pamela Curtis
    7 years ago

    Problem is you present it as a success story when really it was misdiagnosis of your abilities. It’s not realistic. And if gives a false sense of failure to folks who really are sick enough that they can’t work.

  • Janet Geddis
    7 years ago

    Yeah, I’m not sure if my then-neurologist thought I couldn’t handle the stress or what. But I’m glad I found my way back to the working world–I’m much happier and healthier this way. Good luck to you, Pamela. I hope things keep getting better for you.

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