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Doing everything “right” and still getting a migraine

I’ve been taking pretty good care of myself lately: getting enough sleep, taking steps to reduce stress and anxiety, making and keeping doctor appointments, creating and (mostly) maintaining my to-do lists, and exercising several times a week.

Perhaps there’s a part of me that always feels betrayed by my body when I get a migraine, but that sense of betrayal, no matter how ill-founded or illogical, is sharpened when I have been exercising really good self-care.

Today will mark the fifth day in a row in which I actually stuck to my wake-up-and-exercise regime.  Recently I wrote about how incredibly helpful it’s been for me to write out my to-do list in a schedule format (rather than an unending list).  I’ve been waking before seven, which, to those who know me, is a miracle for me to do even one day, let alone five in a row! I’ve made coffee, sticking to my relatively strict one-cup-a-day regimen. I’ve fed the cat, I’ve gotten some writing done when my mind is fresh, I’ve put on comfortable clothes and sneakers, and I’ve been out the door for a 30-50 minute walk each day before 8:00am.

When I return from my walk, I get started on a daily smoothie for Jim and me and jump in the shower. And guess what? I’ve actually been taking my daily migraine preventives (200 mg of B2 and 250 mg of magnesium glycinate) after breakfast each day.

Sure, if I listen closely I can hear balls dropping all around me as I attempt to juggle my schedule each day, but I’m used to that—and there are fewer balls dropping this week than in the entire month that preceded it, and the sound of them falling seems less catastrophic the more I work to reduce stress and anxiety. With few exceptions, most of those dropped balls can be picked up and dusted off later when the main juggling act du jour has concluded.

All in all, I’ve been proud enough to pat myself on the back lately.  I feel like I’m on the cusp of making some real changes again, some lifestyle adjustments that are going to stick this time.  My husband seems to be getting on this bandwagon with me, too, and we’re eager to move into a new house (worry not—it’s in Athens and just a few blocks down the street) where we’ll have a nicely laid-out kitchen where we can cook healthy foods together.  I finally got myself a copy of The Forks Over Knives Plan: How to Transition to the Life-Saving, Whole Food, Plant-Based Diet in the hopes of weeding out a lot of the unhealthy products we consume.

So, with all my energy and happiness and positive changes and healthy choices and reduced stress WHY DID I WAKE UP WITH A MIGRAINE TODAY?

I have no words of wisdom at the moment, but I know I will soon (likely, after my morning walk) have a better perspective on this whole thing.  But right now I just wanted to vent.  I realize that migraine is complicated and there are so many factors and triggers I can’t control (today’s overcast and humid morning, for one), and I know that even with making all the positive changes in the world I will be living with this illness forever. But today I just want to complain. Today I want to shake my skinny fist in the air and say, “Why?!”

Do you ever have moments where you feel especially surprised or undeserving of a migraine (not that you ever, ever deserve one—read more on that here)? Do you ever feel like you’re doing everything in your power to take care of yourself only to be blindsided by an attack? How do you handle this type of situation, and what words of wisdom can you share with us?

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


  • tammay
    4 years ago

    I know just how you feel. I’m the kind of person who gets frustrated when it seems like I’m doing everything right and then something goes wrong (but I was raised to think that everything I did was wrong and my fault, so this is something I am working on). In the last month or so I’ve also been making a lot of lifestyle changes, including exercising everyday, eating right, and practicing relaxation exercises. And last week I had a string of bad headaches with one day a migraine.

    I think that migraine people have to be detectives of a sort. I scrutinized new habits/things I was doing/eating/taking and did some research. It turns out that three things I was doing (taking a Calcium supplement, taking a Vitamin D supplement, and having a breakfast with a salad dressing of balsamic vinegar and tamari every morning) can cause headaches and migraines. So I stopped taking the supplements and changed the salad dressing to something else. And the bad headaches/migraines stopped. I still have to experiment whether I can add the supplements back in one at a time (as I need them) but knowing that I might have yet one or more things to add to the list I made of migraine triggers at least gives me hope that I can avoid them in future.


  • dawnmarie
    4 years ago

    I think we’ve all felt like this numerous times! I also had one yesterday. I’m up in Blairsville, so our weather is usually a bit different than yours, but still I had one. I am proud to say that i made it the entire day without taking meds!! I solely used my peppermint essential oil and after dinner, i just had to lay down and it finally subsided. If I may make a suggestion….my neurologlist gave me a book called Heal My Headache, the 1,2,3 program by David Buchholz. It truly gave me my life back. One of the big takeaways I got from it was cutting coffee completely. I to only had 1 cup a day and found out that with chronic migraine, that was 1 too many. I switched to swiss water process decaf, as regular decaf has chemicals that can trigger as well. Walmart carries a Sam’s club brand or you can search online and find other local places that carry swiss water process decaf. Thanks for your articles, I love reading them! Take care and God bless!

  • tammay
    4 years ago

    dawnmarie, I agree that the Buchholz book is great. It really alerted me to possible triggers that I had been incorporating into my lifestyle and enabled me to put on the list stuff that I know trigger migraines for me (like bananas and weather changes).


  • solove0611
    4 years ago

    Oh my goodness I love this post. I most definitely have days that I’ve just gotta get off my chest. I try to not whine around the house because my family is great at helping me, I try to list all the positives in my life, but sometimes you just have to get mad. We are people too that deal with the constant guilt over the fact that we feel have to rely heavily on others
    My husband works 50 hours a week then tries to do general house work and get the kid to school. I struggle with self loathing but there was an article somewhere on the site about mass acceptance and that was an absolute game changer

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