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Hitting rock bottom in order to make a change

Migraine-wise, the last few months have been the worst for me in years. Looking at the calendar page on my Curelator app (what I’ve been using to track factors related to my migraine for many months now), I see that I am right on the cusp of having chronic migraine again, a diagnosis I shed years ago when I happily retreated to the episodic side of the scale.  It’s strange, because the last several months have mostly been very happy and successful for me. I’m a newlywed and am so happy to be married, I live in a great house with plenty of room, my immediate family members and I are close (both relationship-wise and geographically speaking), and my four-year-old bookshop business is going gangbusters.
All that said, frequent migraine episodes have cast a gray pall over everything in recent memory. On days I don’t have a migraine, I worry I  might get one—after all, my batting average doesn’t bode well lately given that I’ve had about half the days each month be affected by migraine episodes.

It’s weird to be in this position again after kind of assuming I would stay episodic the rest of my life.  Keep in mind I haven’t been diagnosed with chronic migraine again this time around—I remain hopeful that I can get the number of headache days under 15 per month by the time I see my neurologist for a checkup to avoid this diagnosis. I don’t want to face the fact that this, my lifelong journey (battle? fight? relationship?) with migraine, is getting worse instead of better.

Many years ago now, I went weeks (weeks—seriously!) with no migraine days.  I felt great and even dared to wonder if this was the new me, if my migraine days were behind me.  Could I really call myself “The Migraine Girl” if I rarely or never experienced attacks? Would I lose the relationships I’d developed online with readers and fellow blog writers? I had made a lot of lifestyle changes then that contributed to my better health, but I was hesitant to over-share my story at that time: would my readers and online friends no longer identify with me if I wasn’t sick?

These concerns were for naught, of course, as the migraines came back and have ebbed and flowed ever since those salad days.

Since then, however, I have been firmly in the episodic migraine category of patients, My treatments (various types of triptans) worked almost every time, and I functioned well except for a handful of debilitating attacks each year.  Granted, I wasn’t doing as well as I was in that migraine-free month or two of 2008, but I was better off than I had been in my mid-twenties and was grateful that most of my attacks responded well to treatment.

But things have gotten worse, and I can’t count on my medications to get me back up and at ‘em the way they used to—recently, I’ve had to take a second dose of my triptan to get the migraine to back the heck off, and I ran out of my rescue med (what I take when my triptans don’t work or I can’t take any more triptans that week) in record time.

This weekend I had a revelation, one that has popped up periodically over the years during times of really ill health: I am sick of being sick. I am tired of having to pop pills or snort medication so frequently in order to abort attacks just 80% of the time.   I have to make some serious changes again. If at all possible, I don’t want to have to rely on medication to get through each day. I want to reboot my system and make some lasting lifestyle and dietary changes that I know from past experience will help me be well, or at least better than I am.

I think that I needed things to get this bad again in order to be inspired to make a change. I think I needed to hit the proverbial rock bottom, even for a couple of days stuck in bed throwing up, in order to realize that the situation is untenable and I have to get back in gear.

So this is my sincere oath to make better choices each day. To eat on a regular schedule and to consume whole, plant-based foods that I know from past experience and lots of robust research make humans more energetic and healthy. To manage my stress better, and to make sure I take time off work to connect with friends, family, and myself.  To walk around my beautiful city and enjoy this world of ours.  There will be hiccups and false starts and mistakes, but I won’t beat myself up about those. I’ll take things day by day and do my best to make smart, healthy choices.

Have any of you ever made a dramatic change in the hopes of improving your health? How did you make the change? What were your biggest obstacles? How have your migraine patterns changes (if at all), and how has your relationship with migraine changed? 

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

  • bluebird
    4 years ago

    I am sorry to hear of your renewed challenges at this time. I wonder if you have tried the Spring TMS transcranial magnetic stimulation treatment? I have been using it for more than 6 months and still don’t know how to evaluate it’s effectiveness with certainty. It seems to help – especially if I can catch the onset of an event early.I still have seem to suffer more severe bouts of migraine with weather changes but I am keeping at banging my head in the hope it will make a difference.
    Curious to know if other readers have given it a try. Thanks.

  • jojobaggins
    4 years ago

    Hang in there! I agree with the others that our patterns can change over time. Mine have picked up in the last three years. I went from daily headaches and twice weekly migraine to 5-6 migraines per year, to now getting them twice a month with long hangovers.

    I feel like they are wearing me down.

    But I’m hopeful that the new drug being developed to target the trigeminal nerve will help many of us out. One shot once a month has reduced migraine attacks for study participants by something like 80%! Fingers crossed. It should be out in a year or two.

  • Holly
    4 years ago

    I have done things in the past that seem to make a difference for awhile and then my migraines get bad again. It is very discouraging because it doesn’t seem to matter what I do. I try to be very careful about what I eat, no grain, organic fruits and vegies and organic meat.I try to drink plenty of water and keep my stress level low. When I have a good week,(which doesn’t happen very often) I think, what am I doing right? I need to keep doing it, but there does not seem to be a pattern. I keep researching and trying new things.

  • Garangwyn
    4 years ago

    This sounds like me exactly. The most recent example was when I obtained a Cefaly device back in July. Immediately upon starting the treatments, I went a full two weeks without so much as a minor headache. As always, I hoped this would be the final piece of the puzzle, after making a host of other changes over the past few years. But then the weather began changing, and with that, the migraines became chronic again. It IS extremely discouraging.

    I heard another testimony this past week from a girl who had an auto accident, after which she developed migraines, who then had that little bump in front of her ear pierced (I forgot the name of that…Hangover today…) and immediately her migraines disappeared. I’m almost 61 years old…don’t know how I’d look with a little piercing like that, but I’m about ready to give it a try. I think it’s the only thing I haven’t tried yet.

  • Holly
    4 years ago

    Migraine pattern change. I use to get migraines mostly around that time of the month. I knew they came on due to hormones and stress. Since I had my thyroid removed 5 years ago they have increased.My endocrinologist says they are not related to my thyroid. Now I have them every week.

  • Marsha
    4 years ago

    I can so very much relate to those feelings and thank you for sharing them. For me, feelings related to the frequency of my migraines have many layers: I get discouraged at “backsliding” after experiencing some relief from the frequency of my migraines (which sound a lot like yours). Like you, I get hopeful that fewer migraines over a period of a month or two signals that they will very soon disappear from my life. But then they don’t. When I backslide, I inevitably blame myself for not vigilantly doing what I need to do to reduce my migraines. But then in the next breath I remember that I’m not at fault and that my vigilance helps, but only goes so far. Also, I’m getting tired of the toll on my productivity (I’m also a business owner and lead a very full life).

    With all that, I wish you all the best in returning quickly to the “salad days” of fewer migraines — the kind that are easily kicked with a pill, and on with life you go. For me, I remain very hopeful that by eating a plant-based diet (something new for me and pretty great so far), running regularly, trying to stick to a regular sleep schedule, and all the rest, migraines will intrude less constantly in my life. For me, all those things are no guarantee, but they help tremendously in safeguarding my overall health and improving my outlook — and in reducing the frequency of my migraines in a meaningful (albeit imperfect and insufficient) way.

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