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Without warning, something is just TOO MUCH

For well over a week in April, it poured down rain in Athens.  You know the phrase “buckets of rain”?  That’s what it was like.  One Wednesday, I was at my friend’s business downtown and he was attempting to sop up puddles of rainwater at least 1” deep in his basement retail space.  (I have always felt sympathy for people in situations like that, but now that I am also a business owner I really feel for folks who must deal with that particular pickle.) My sneakers, socks, and toes were completely wet within seconds of my going outside.

I parked just two blocks from my optometrist’s office, so I wasn’t too worried about my lack of umbrella. I would just dash from the car to the parking machine and then to my eye appointment, lickety-split.  Right?  I felt pretty chill about the whole thing.

I was wrong to feel calm about this: the parking machine wouldn’t accept my change.  (It’s the kind where you put in money and it spits out a ticket you have to display on your dashboard. I put the same four quarters in again and again, getting soaked in the deluge, until finally it worked.)  Then I kept pressing the wrong button on the car remote so I could put the parking ticket on the dashboard.  Then I had to lock the car back and run down to my appointment. By the time I walked into the eye care center, I was dripping like crazy.

My morning up until then had been pretty smooth.  Even the rain and my soaking clothes were okay.

I pulled my soaked hair back in a messy bun as I sifted through my bag to make sure nothing important had gotten wet.  I wrote a couple of notes in my notebook, scratched through items on my to-do list, and generally felt pretty good about life.

Then, suddenly, with no warning, I could not stand to have this dang ponytail holder anywhere near my head.  The loose bun, which had been comfortable, suddenly was TOO MUCH. I yanked it out somewhat ferociously, feeling immediate relief and release of tension. I have a sneaking suspicion I confused the woman sitting near me.

This experience made me think back to other times in my recent life where a particular sensory stimulus was suddenly just TOO MUCH TO HANDLE.  For instance, the volume of the radio in the car: I can be driving along and enjoying the music when, with no warning and in the middle of a song that’s been on for two minutes already, it’s just too loud.

Maybe the person you’ve been seeing wears the same deodorant every single date, but one evening, seemingly out of the blue, you just can’t stand it one second longer.

Maybe the overhead fluorescent lighting in your office is generally soul-sucking but one fateful minute becomes completely intolerable.

We talk a lot on this website about how migraineurs tend to have heightened senses in general, and in particular during migraine episodes.  I thought I’d turn to you to ask if you’ve ever have been in a situation when, with little to no warning, your body and brain just can’t handle a particular type of sensory input any longer.

Have you ever had a moment when suddenly something is just too much to take?  Please share your experience in the comments 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

  • britt
    4 years ago

    One of the freakiest experiences I have had is when I’m driving and suddenly attempting to keep up with all the motion around me is too much.

    I have to pull over immediately and take meds and hope I don’t lose my vision.

    Does this happen to anyone else? Problems with driving or anxiety about getting hit with a migraine while driving?

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    surfDVA4life,

    I know other migraineurs on this site have posted over the years about driving-related migraine anxiety. We have several articles about driving as it relates to migraine (and vice-versa)–I hope you will find a feeling of camaraderie with these articles’ authors and also find some good tips for yourself. I don’t usually have this type of anxiety myself, but you are definitely not alone. Here are some links:

    https://migraine.com/blog/can-i-drive-with-a-migraine/
    https://migraine.com/blog/driving-tips-for-migraineurs-part-1/
    https://migraine.com/blog/part-2-driving-tips-for-migraineurs/
    https://migraine.com/blog/driving-under-the-influence/

    Take care; let us know how you’re doing!

    Sincerely,
    Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • Jay
    4 years ago

    Yes. It’s not fun. I think this is one of my biggest issues because I feel it limits me.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    Do you find yourself not participating in some activities because you fear that something that starts out tolerable will suddenly become the opposite? Just curious to hear more about how you feel limited. It’s so frustrating for me and I’m interested in others’ stories.

    Take care,
    Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • kristenss
    4 years ago

    I have had this happen mostly with scents! Perfumes, air fresheners, candles, exhaust fumes, new car smell. I get to the point where I have to just leave the “smelly” area and have done so quite quickly in the past. Another way this has happened to me if I am sitting in an uncomfortable position for too long and I am in pain. Pain equails headache to me! I need to get to my ice packs real fast and have abruptly left where I was at to come home to my recliner and ice packs!

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    Thanks for the comments, kristenss. I appreciate your feedback, mostly because it’s so helpful to hear that other people out there have the same experiences as I–it makes me feel less alone.

    Take care; I hope you’re feeling well today.

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • kristenss
    4 years ago

    Being too hot always triggers a headache too!

  • TraumaMama
    4 years ago

    My clothing! If it’s too tight or doesn’t fit just right, I generally will end up with at least a tension headache. If I have to wear the outfit all day, then it usually ends up a migraine. Some days I can tell that ANYTHING I put on will be a pain and it takes me FOREVER to pick out something to wear. A loosely fitted dress is usually best for those days!

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    That’s interesting–I hadn’t thought about this too much. I know I don’t like clothes that hug at my neck (meaning dresses with around-the-neck ties are out), but I hadn’t connected this discomfort to migraine. I’ll have to pay better attention and see if this is something that gets intolerable for me, too. Thanks.

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • kristenss
    4 years ago

    This happens to me too!

  • Sisipu
    4 years ago

    This was a timely read! I have Chronic, Daily Migraines and experience this so often…tv volume, dog barking, teens being loud, feeling too warm, too much going on at the same time. I have wondered if it is due, in part, to the anxiety disorder that I have. And, that probably factors in somewhere, but how wonderful to have this new perspective to think about and notice. Thank you!

  • Jay
    4 years ago

    I feel guilty about this one…. I drive my family crazy about the tv volume. It’s fine one minute, too loud the next. I jump up and just leave the room. Sometimes is not all sounds on tv but out of nowhere there’s one that I feel goes past my ears straight into my brain.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    3vvg5f, I feel you on that! It drives my husband a little nuts even though he knows where I’m coming from.

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    Thanks for the comment, Sisipu. Like you, I have a new perspective to think about: I am going to keep a better eye on my anxiety levels and see if this happens during times when I am more anxious/worried/stressed or even nearing panic mode!

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • solove0611
    4 years ago

    Thanks for that article it was great–as all of yours are 😉 I’m curious if anyone ever tried baclofen? What side effects did you have and how effective do you feel it was or is to your treatment? Also does anyone know if it causes the dreaded rebound effect?? Thank you so much for any advice and thanks for always being there friends!!

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    Oh, and thanks for the kind words about my posts! Glad to have you here. 🙂

    -Janet G.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    I haven’t ever tried baclofen, but I do take Flexeril occasionally at night for muscle spasms/stiffness, usually related to migraine.

    Have you ever posted to the Migraine.com forums? You could post your baclofen question there and probably get more feedback from folks since there’s a bigger audience reading community members’ comments and questions. Here’s a link for you: https://migraine.com/forum/medications-prescription-treatment/

    I hope you’re feeling well today.

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • Marisa
    4 years ago

    I’ve found my hair to be a trigger for me too, for both migraines and tension headaches. Sometimes my hair is literally only in a ponytail for 5 seconds and IT HAS TO COME DOWN NOW! Other times I don’t realize the ponytail is an issue until its too late. If I’m really lucky and take it down fast enough, it will stop the attack completely. Other times, it will just lessen the pain. I’ve also noticed that even if I think my hair is fine up during a bad migraine, its better to take it down. Putting my hair down has at times gotten rid of: auras, light sensitivity, smell sensitivity, halos, vertigo, and nausea.

  • SamanthaAnn
    4 years ago

    Twice recently I came to the realization that I was coming under attack while listening to the radio in my car, very similar to your story, when all of a sudden I just couldn’t tolerate the sound anymore and had to shut it off… Then, what I call the “oil slick” started making its way across my vision and it was time to pull over!

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    Oh, the “oil slick” metaphor is so perfect! I hope you’re feeling well today, and thank you for your comments.

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • Byron-morgan
    4 years ago

    That’s what I refer to as my “scream point”……..and for me it’s very often very sudden as you describe, and extremely short-lived. Lightning flashes of intense action-reaction that often leave everyone around confused, me included, as i usually only dimly remember it.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    That’s so interesting, Byron-morgan. I like the term “scream point”–it’s very apt for this situation. The not remembering clearly resonates with me as well.

    I hope you’re feeling good today.

    Take care,
    Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • Nicole9r
    4 years ago

    Yes! What is that? It almost feels like a panic or anxiety attack. There is nothing specific I can put my finger on to say “This is what caused me to feel this way.” It doesn’t even precede a migraine or the pain of one. The only other way I can describe it is something akin to wanting to crawl out of my own skin.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    Oh, that’s a fascinating perspective. My scales get tipped like this and sometimes I end up sick, other times I end up realizing I am just dealing with a lot of anxiety and have been tamping down my instincts that are telling me to take a breather. Maybe you and I should both try to engage in more stress reduction techniques and see if that helps.

    Take care, and let me know how you’re doing! Sorry it took so long for me to reply to this comment.

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • onehsancare
    4 years ago

    Yes! I can’t count the number of times we will happily be at a function, when all of a sudden, I will grasp my husband’s arm and say, “I CAN’T BE HERE!” and we must leave immediately. It’s the noise, or the number of people, or the scent (even though I’m pretty much wearing my Techno mask whenever I’m outside my house now), or the lights, or some combination, but I just CAN’T be there any more.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    Girl, I hear you!

    Can you tell me more about your Techno mask? Do you have it for scent-triggered migraine avoidance or something else? If you’re comfortable sharing, I’d love to hear more.

    Take care,
    Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • Barbara
    4 years ago

    I have had this happen more often than I realized! My husband will be calmly eating and suddenly I shout”Do you have to scrape your plate with your fork so loudly !?” Another unfortunate time is when a baby cries and cannot be consoled…I usually end up crying with them! I have 5 grown children and 5 grandchildren, luckily my migraines were not quite as severe and I was not so totally sensitive when my children were growing up!Amazingly, my grandbabies rarely cry like that, I have had to leave the room only a couple of times for that reason!

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    I appreciate your comment and totally see where you’re coming from here. I feel bad for my hubby sometimes since I sometimes scold him like this, and to him it’s totally out of left field!

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • Kelly Hibbert
    4 years ago

    It happens so much that I thought it was just me. It happened tonight with my kids! I just said that its been too much and I can’t breathe. I had never contributed it to migraines before but this is an interesting topic. Very curious as to how many migraineurs experience this!!!

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    In my limited experience, Kelly, it seems like it’s related to anxiety as much as migraine (and we know those two things tie in together for a LOT of us). I have been trying to do more mindfulness practice and gentle exercise in an attempt to reduce my anxiety (which will, in theory, reduce the number of times I hit the brink like this).

    Take care; let me know how you’re doing. And no, you are NOT alone!

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • JustGrandma
    4 years ago

    This happens to me in subtle ways, usually. About 3 months ago I went with my daughter to the fabric store. It is a warehouse type place, and the odor was overwhelming. The last thing I remember is feeling very dizzy and unable to concentrate, then I completely blanked out. I don’t remember leaving or being driven home. I think between the odor, noise, heat and lighting my brain just shut down.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    I hear you. Well, I guess you know one more place you need to rule out when it comes to shopping. 🙁

    Hope you’re feeling well today.

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • Shea
    4 years ago

    This happens to me often. Usually it’s engine noise. There will be a truck running for a while (usually my neighbor), and suddenly I can’t stand the noise any more. It will drive me mad, and the longer it goes on, the worse I get, until I’m a quivering mess

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    Ugh, I feel you. Sometimes I find that I’ve tuned out a loud noise like that and, once I notice it, I can’t STOP noticing it and it drives me nuts!

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • CindyLee
    4 years ago

    Yes light and sound are intolerable and normally I play music LOUD. I know I will start fighting a migraine when the sound starts getting too loud and I have to keep putting it lower and lower. One piece of advice … do not EVER use LED (which is blue light) on your environment if at all possible. First, my optometrist tells me that studies are increasingly showing faster inset of macula degeneration (good info for everyone) but when my husband replaced burned out canned lights in our bathroom ceiling, I realized that not only had my general mood gotten worse, I had a low grade migraine constantly. This is just a personal anecdote, but no reason to fool around with it.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    Oh gosh, I hadn’t heard that about LEDs. And here I was totally worried about the proliferance of CFL light bulbs. I’ll keep an eye out for this. Thanks.

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • Migrainehead
    4 years ago

    Not only migraines, LED lights cause my sister to have minor seizures. She’s in terrible shape at Christmas time bit LED lights are becoming more common and she’s running across triggers in more places.
    For me, my migraines are sensitive to all types of lights. But flashing and strobing light is a bad bad thing.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    Oh, that’s such a bummer to hear–I know for many years, LEDs were thought to be a pro-energy, safe alternative to CFLs for people with brain disorders. I am going to be careful with the LED lights in my environment. I always notice them throbbing when I spy them out of the corner of my eye, but when I look straight on the light seems true and bright. I should pay attention to that.

    Give my best to your sister, and thanks for taking the time to share your story here.

    Take care,
    Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • NursePammie
    4 years ago

    I’ve had a migraine on and off since Friday evening. Usually, it’s just light and smells that bother me, but I walked into the kitchen just now and my roommate is blasting Missing Persons “Life is So Strange” while his girlfriend is rustling around in the flatware drawer, and my brain said, “NOPE!” And I retreated to my room.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    Oh, hearing silverware/flatware being moved about is surely one of the worst sounds for a migraine brain. I feel you! Hope you’re feeling good today.

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • LadyJ856
    4 years ago

    Today is one of those day’s for me. A coworker was answering the phone when, all of a sudden, her voice was way too loud and painful. Then I realized I was squinting trying to block out the fluorescent light overhead. Once I turned it off, and she went into a meeting, things got better.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    I’m glad the situation got a little better for you–I’ve been there! Hope you’re feeling good today.

    Take care,
    Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

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