Moving with migraine

Moving with migraine

We moved houses again at the end of July despite my deep and abiding loathing of the moving process.  There are a few things that inspired Jim and me to pack up this adorable rental house after just one year to move literally down the street.

  1. We will have two bathrooms instead of one.  Yes, you read that right.  TWO BATHROOMS.  Once, many years ago, friends were trying to get my dad to reveal the secret to a happy marriage (he and my mom have been together for over forty years).  He revealed his answer, however tongue-in-cheek, after lots of his trademark comedic hemming and hawing (“The true secret of marriage is…. oh wait.  Um.  Oh yeah! The true secret of marriage is….oops, I forget. What is it.  Oh, I know!  The true, the truest, the only secret of marriage is….I can’t remember.”). Here’s what he said: “The secret is…having two bathrooms.”  Well, color me a believer. I look forward to no longer bugging Jim with what I call the hair wall in the shower, the place where I clump my long hair together when I condition it so it doesn’t fall down the drain and clog it.  I know this is gross.  I look forward to him having the space to get water all over the counter when he washes his face, and I like that when I wake up crabby, a tiny little thing like the toothpaste cap not being replaced will be my own fault and I don’t have to go to that petty place where I scold my husband in my head, if even for a second.
  2. The new place is the teeniest bit less expensive, and the landlord is a friend of ours who will be very responsive to any repair requests or other issues we have.
  3. The new house has a few hundred more square feet—more room for two people with a lot of stuff. (I work from home so have my office supplies, plus you probably can guess that I am a book and stationery and memory hoarder; Jim is a musician and artist with all the equipment you’d imagine would go along with those occupations.)
  4. After a year of working in an office (aka dining-room-turned-office-space) with no closing door and a few years before that of my office being in the same room as our TV/living room, I will have a separate little room with a door that shuts.  Fingers crossed that and improved communication on my part will allow us to avoid arguments and frustrations that sometimes arise from my not being clear about when I’m working and when I’m home with my partner and free to talk.


Moving can of course be stressful, especially for those with chronic illness (AKA both my husband and me). We are taking steps that will alleviate as many health triggers as we can, including:

  1. Beginning the packing process weeks before we move. It is hard to decide what gets packed up first, but so far we’re doing a good job of not packing up too  many things that we realize we need nearly every day.
  2. Hiring movers this time.  That’s right: a genuine, certified, fully-insured moving company.  It is going to cost a pretty penny, but I don’t have to worry about either Jim or me hurting our backs and necks by lifting things, maneuvering furniture around doorways, or even rolling a piano around the living room.  We also don’t have to recruit friends (who have been so helpful in the past!) and ask them to take a day off to help us lug an entire house full of stuff from one place to another that’s just four blocks away.  Another bonus: over-exertion and overheating are two migraine triggers for me, and if I’m not heaving heavy things around in the 95-degree heat in late July, I can potentially avoid a migraine.
  3. Color-coding and clearly labeling all the moving boxes so the movers know which rooms to put them in—this will avoid our having to move too much stuff around in the weeks following the move-in as we settle in.
  4. Tossing and/or giving away and/or selling a good deal of stuff we no longer use or need or love (sometimes all three). I cannot overestimate how cleansing this feels—I know that sounds really new-agey to some of you, but I assure you the relief is real!

Actually preparing in advance while focusing on the positive aspects of moving only a year after our last move has helped me stay really excited about this next adventure and has kept my stress way lower than it has ever been during previous moves.

How many of you migraineurs have moved or undergone a big change like this?  What steps did you take to minimize the threat of migraine? Has anyone else decided to hire movers? What sort of planning did you do to keep stress low while ensuring your tasks were completed?  Please share your words of wisdom or warning below! 

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

View Comments (10)
  • Teresa
    3 years ago

    I fully agree with your Dad. Having separate bathrooms is a wonderful thing. My husband and I have been together for almost 15 years, and up until 2 years ago, we always shared a bathroom. There were so many things that would drive me crazy, but then again, I was always a little OCD anyway. We moved into a house that had 2 bathrooms, and it was like a light shining out of the heavens. I will never again move into a house with one bathroom. Trust me people, it can change your life.

  • tammay
    3 years ago

    I so know what you are going through. In the last 10 years, I have moved 7 or 8 times and most of those moves have been to another state (and one was even to another country!) I’m single so I usually got my mom and dad to help me move until I realized that my frequent migraines during this period were mostly because caused by the huge stress of having them “help” me. They have good intentions but they are very demanding, high anxiety, and very controlling. I had to do everything their way and they physical work of moving (even with three of us – four with my aunt – were doing it together for a one-bedroom household) was extremely anxiety-provoking to my mother. I should have been more sensitive to this but I was very immature, even in my 30s (long story about that).

    In 2013, I was living abroad with my parents and decided to move back to the States. This time I insisted that I wanted to go it alone. It was very stressful at first, but once I started making all the details plans all by myself the way I wanted them (not the way my parents did), I actually (gasp!) enjoyed the process. I was lucky in that I work from home also and an an independent contractor so I could take my time with the unpacking. I had no migraines whatsoever – none. I moved again in 2014, but this time it was in the same town so it was less stressful. Again, I did it all by myself and enjoyed the process and had no migraines.

    I guess the lesson here is that sometimes it’s who is helping you move that might be causing stress enough for migraines.

    Tam

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    3 years ago

    Dear Tam,

    Thanks for the thoughtful comments. Ha! I love that ridding yourself of “help” seems to be one of the keys to a migraine-free move. Good for you! It is so stressful to be the one who *should* be in charge when others are trying to micromanage your every move. Good for you!

    I actually enjoyed packing and color-coding my items as well, and I enjoyed trashing/donating items I no longer loved.

    -Janet G.

  • Karen
    3 years ago

    I have spent all of my married life with a military man. We moved (he retired 4 years ago!) every 3-4 years. The moves when we were overseas were extremely stressful, because we had to trust movers who often did not speak our language. I often had to “supervise” because my pain level was so high that I couldn’t bend over to pack a box. It taught me how to prep for a move, and how to keep our life (mostly) clutter free. We are now retired and in our (hopefully!) forever home, but we still go through the house once a year, tossing whatever is not needed. It feels so good to know that we’re never going to let clutter build up, and that keeps my stress level at a pretty manageable level. I really hope your move goes perfectly!!

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    3 years ago

    Karen,

    I, too, hope you are at the new place for good. It must feel nice (though strange?) to finally settle down somewhere for the long haul. I hope you love it. I can’t imagine trying to communicate with someone who didn’t speak my language, particularly when my brain is already stilted in the language department due to a migraine!

    Not letting clutter build up has been a game-changer for me. My husband isn’t on the same page yet, but at least my stuff is combed through frequently to avoid my feeling overwhelmed with unnecessary and/or unloved stuff.

    We moved over a month ago and it’s all going well so far. We’re even unpacked, which didn’t happen at all at our last place! Amazing what sufficient room will do.

    -Janet

  • Lisa Robin Benson moderator
    3 years ago

    Hi Janet!
    This is a very timely article for me. I’m moving in two weeks! I’ve moved A LOT. So I’ve learned! I’m doing everything you mentioned! I think the biggest thing you said is the looking forward to the move so I don’t stress too much. That helps a lot! Also hiring movers is honestly a must, if you can afford it. I always have increased pain even with simply bending over to put things in boxes and take them out. So moving furniture myself would be a lot worse. And it’s always so nice to de-clutter!

    Wishing you the best in your new home!
    Lisa

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    3 years ago

    Lisa,

    Thanks for the thoughtful comments. We ended up paying 1/3 of the original estimate from the movers because they damaged our three heaviest items (bureau, piano, couch) and they reimburse by weight–don’t ask my why. The damages weren’t too dramatic but it was still annoying to deal with, and micromanaging the movers wasn’t great. We’d been led to believe they were super-experienced, and while the main guy there was, it was clear that the helpers were temps filling in during the crazy moving time in a college town. The helpers were clueless but friendly, dragging their feet and lifting one tiny thing at a time. Ugh! 🙂

    Good luck to you! Hope the new place is just wonderful.

    -Janet

  • Luna
    3 years ago

    I’m not planning on moving any time soon but am decluttering now. Unfortunately it is a long process and some things need the right time to be able to let go. But it is very freeing to have less stuff weighing me down.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    3 years ago

    I read THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP and it changed the way I de-clutter/clean forever. Highly recommended.

    Good luck!

    -Janet

  • Lisa Robin Benson moderator
    3 years ago

    It definitely is freeing!

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