When you notice you’re feeling good, suddenly you feel bad

Has this ever happened to you?  The moment you really are aware of how well you’ve been feeling, you get sidelined by a migraine.

Last night I was walking downtown with my sister, who was on day two of an intrusive headache (which may or may not have been part of a migraine episode).  She said that she was feeling better, but that the day before she even looked sick at a glance—her skin looked puffy around her eyes, and her eyes themselves were glassy.  “I’ve seen that look before—on you,” she said.

I told her I was somewhat amazed at how well April was going for me. It’s usually a vicious migraine month, but I’ve had fewer migraines than I’m accustomed to this spring (so far).
I felt proud of this, knowing I’ve taken steps lately to take better care of myself.

Then, within a few hours, a migraine started to show up.

That got me thinking.  I have no empirical evidence of this, of course, but it sure does seem like most times I verbally acknowledge that I haven’t had a migraine in awhile, one shows up within a day.  It feels like a twisted little curse.

Throughout my life, this has happened repeatedly.  “I’ve been feeling really good lately,” “I haven’t had a migraine in awhile—knock on wood!” and “I can’t believe I haven’t had a migraine all week” all seem to be little secret curses that I am laying on myself.  Within a day or so, I look back and reflect on my folly.

I’ve talked to a lot of friends about this phenomenon.  I have several chronically ill buddies who have been frustrated by this problem.  A good friend with chronic back pain will comment off-hand, “I haven’t had trouble with my back in…wow…a few weeks!”  Another friend with rheumatoid arthritis will say, “I actually haven’t had much trouble with my joints in a while.”  Within a couple of days, these ladies suffered back spasms and knee joint pain, respectively.

When it comes to my personal migraine situation, I can’t help but wonder what, if anything, lies at the heart of this odd little situation. For many migraineurs, a sense of euphoria is one of the first signs of a migraine attack.  Could it be that I feel so glowing and wonderful because that euphoria is setting in right as a migraine is approaching?  Maybe I am prompted to remark upon my good health only because of this temporary boost in mood and well-being.

Or is it something else? My vote is for pure coincidence, but I’d love to hear theories of those of you who’ve had similar experiences: why do migraine episodes surface right when we pat ourselves on the back for feeling pretty good of late?

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Comments

View Comments (20)
  • Mattia
    5 years ago

    This is what happened today! I’ve gone about 4 days with out any type of headache, and then I wake up to the most disabling headache ever! Full on attack! Dizziness, nausea, light sensitivity! I was just telling someone yesterday that I hadn’t had a headache in awhile! Ugh!’nn

  • Mattia
    5 years ago

    Can’t even type! Meant to just put ugh!!!

  • Moom
    5 years ago

    Absolutely. It’s the high before the storm.

  • Holly
    5 years ago

    Yes, this happens to me a lot! When people ask me how I have been I don’t want to say much because usually the next day I will get a migraine. That just happened to me again yesterday, I was saying how I have been doing good for 2 weeks and then I woke up this morning with a migraine! It is frustrating. I have not figured it out.

  • MigraineSal
    5 years ago

    How spooky that this should appear on FB today as this happened to me only yesterday . . . I had been doing really well with migraines because I had been practicing good neck care whilst on holiday from work ( my degenerative neck condition is my main migraine trigger ). In hindsight the symptoms started on Sunday ( I was obviously subconsciously thinking of returning to work, even on my day off ! ) but I ignored them as I am always sensitive to light and didn’t used to get nausea until c 9 months ago. My skull / face were sensitive when I laid on a pillow and I was very queasy but I put this down to coincidence, rather than the start of a migraine ( or an indicator that one was coming . . . naughty migraineur ! ) and then as soon as I started back at work and sat at a computer screen . . . B-A-M . . . the neck pain was back . . . the nausea increased and it was time to lay on ice in a dark room with an industrial fan gently blowing. I am disappointed as I had successfully reduced my daily Topiramate medication but I must remember that I am lucky in that I can identify the trigger . . . even if I chose to ignore it at the time ! It is strange how my symptoms seem to have changed from the terrible pain in my head and sensitisation in my face and skull to more of a nausea / washed out feeling with a lesser head pain when it does strike . . . I shouldn’t complain really as I think this may be a little easier to function on than the terrible head pain ( without nausea ) I had when the migraines started. Think I will keep my thoughts on how well I am doing without a migraine to myself in the future and just have a celebration for one !

  • Meggietye
    5 years ago

    Wow..this phenomena is alive and well with myself as well. ‘ Not Carly Simon ‘ mentioned the mania, that happens to me too. I get all my tidying/laundry/errands done then the following day I get slammed 🙁 of course this puts me off base for 4 days, I am behind with everything and blame myself for ‘exhausting’ myself one day and getting sick. Not Carly Simon…thank you! I am constantly telling myself that the day I feel REally well to just go super slow but it never fails I fall into the mania trap.

    I have read The Migraine Brain…11.99 at amazon..this paperback has been a Godsend and now I have MUCH more control over my migraines. I bought extra copies and have been handing them out to friends etc who suffer, or wives etc. Everyone says their sufferer has been glued to the book and is doing the guides/food plans etc and never knew so many things happened to them an hour before the pain hit!! EG: exaggerated body functions like sneezing/excessive runny nose (like a tap)/itchy ears/peeing/ and on and on. I hope you seriouslyconsider picking up this book. it is written by an M.D who runs a headache clinic in the
    States. It makes a difference.

  • Holly
    5 years ago

    I have that book and agree it has been very helpful. I know what you mean about over doing it when you have good days. I do that also. Did that yesterday and then woke up with a migraine this morning. We need balance.

  • May 20
    5 years ago

    My neurologist says this is a perfectly normal trigger. You think about your migraine condition, and you can make one happen. No one really knows why or how that works, but it’s very common and real. In fact, I feel one coming on right now. *sigh*

  • Janet
    5 years ago

    It seems that this is just another symptom we all share. We realize we’ve had a couple good days and BAMMM!!! we are slammed. I’m in the midst of the slam…I realized I had a couple food days…and I knew..only a matter of time. Thankful for the good…but it is t more than 48-72 hours…and that’s a stretch.

    And most of you commented that those who don’t suffer chronic migraine don’t get it.. Sadly they don’t..and won’t because they can’t possibly imagine in their minds what we live with. I know many of you say you don’t let migraine run your life….of course it does…we try our best to do what we can and pray the pain level doesn’t spoil what we hope to accomplish…but many posts I’ve read say a lot of you live with migraine secondarily…I tip toe around always mindful of the monster who is waiting to rear it’s ugly head. It’s a part of me for 4 decades..to say migraines aren’t in front for me is denial .

    Blessings
    Janet

  • craig
    5 years ago

    I wanted to say one other thing. I feel that I am sick more often than I am well. Sometimes I think I shouldn’t say anything when asked how I feel. There are so many others in the world that have bigger health issues than me. I feel guilty when I complain about it. I have started more and more, when asked how I feel, to say that I feel great, as opposed to telling the real truth. I know my family gets tired of hearing me say that I had another migraine or I am having a migraine now. Unless you have been through migraine trauma and yes, I will call it trauma, you have no idea what is like. I remember being younger and the aura and the sickness from the headache would cause me to throw up every single time. Now that I am 57, I no longer have the nausea. THANK GOD FOR THAT! But I do still have the aura first. If I am driving, I will have to pull over, lock my car doors and crawl in the back seat. I sincerely wish that all who suffer from migraines will start having more good than bad days. Myself included. Thank you for allowing me to share my view. Donna

  • craig
    5 years ago

    I just mentioned this to my daughter this week. I had not had a migraine since Last Friday and was saying that I had four really good days. By 8:00 pm, the same day I was talking about it, I had a really, really bad migraine. I asked her why she thought it happened and as you say, who can explain that. Is it because we were talking about it and as some people say, once you out it out in the universe, it will come back. Not sure I believe that, but whatever the reason, I was so glad to see this article and it lets me know that I am not alone. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR POSTING THIS. I feel better already. Oops! I should not have said that (ahahaha).

  • astrosdiva
    5 years ago

    This also happens to me. An exceptionally “good” day is invariably followed by an exceptionally “bad” day. I, too, sort of kick myself for bragging about the good day!

  • echo123
    5 years ago

    I can absolutely relate! I have chronic migraines helped with Botox. (Not given in the neck) the second I think how well I am doing, that I haven’t had a migraine in a while, BAM, here comes one!!

  • Lisa J
    5 years ago

    This is indeed a strange thing and, as always good to hear I am not the only one!!
    I do think we must feel extra good to notice and comment, it is so lovely to be able to multi task and talk normally and not to be quite so grouchy!
    But alas it must be a little spurt of something good before we crash, just need to work out how to make that bit last longer………….

  • Luna
    5 years ago

    This has gone on long enough for me that I just think …
    Wow, feel great so enjoy it because it doesn’t last but then neither does the down side. It comes in waves.
    Or the calm before the storm.
    I find that the productive spurts are just a signal to get everything prepared for the big one.
    My motto is to keep a positive attitude and make the best of what I’ve got. I never procrastinate about the important things because who knows what tomorrow will bring. Don’t sweat the little stuff.

  • Holly
    5 years ago

    Amen! I totally agree! I do the same thing.

  • Dori Fritzinger
    5 years ago

    I look at it this way “Right now” It is a good day That is subject to change – some people do not get it – then they also go not live with a migraine disorder

  • Not Carly Simon
    5 years ago

    I actually get mania as an aura before a migraine. I’ll have a spurt where I’m really productive or find some things really funny or have a really good day and then within 48 hours have a horrible migraine.

  • Moom
    5 years ago

    Same here. I never thought of it as an “aura” but you are right.

  • Jackie
    5 years ago

    You are so right about saying when you realize you feel good you will get a migraine that is why I try not to mention how I feel. People treat me like I am a hypochondriac if I say I am feeling good and then have a migraine in a day or so. Migraines are difficult to explain to people who don’t suffer.

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