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Career options for chronic migraine

In years past I have worked 3-4 jobs at a time to try and make ends meet. I am a licensed hair stylist, but in my town it is not a profession that earns a lot of money. Even if it was, I would not be able to work full time due to the physical demand of the job. Recently cost of living had skyrocketed in my town. In two years rent has more than doubled and housing prices have soared. I am struggling. I have had to scale back to two jobs, and I can hardly keep up due to constant migraine attacks. Rent is more than a mortgage, but after all my bills there is hardly anything left for food and no way to save for a downpayment or retirement. Now at 30 years of age I am trying to determine a new career to better support myself and give myself the leniency I need to care for this disease.

Does anyone out there have suggestions? I don't have a degree, I do have a license in hair design, I have been a production manager for a local theatre company, directed theatre, and worked as a nanny. Currently I work in a salon, and have a retail job. HELP!

  1. Hi Caitlyn! This is definitely a difficult topic to tackle, and all I can really do is share my experience. I was off work completely for a few years, and now I work from home as well as part time in a library. I assumed the library would be ideal, but I'm a page, which means I'm shelving, and on my feet. The library where I work is also insanely warm in some areas, and in the kids' area, at certain times, it's even loud. I think I am accepting the fact that absolutely no job outside the home is migraine-proof. Even if I weren't triggered by the heat, I could have a colleague who wears perfume, or bad fluorescent lights.

    I am 45 with a bachelor's degree in "humanities & business." It took me almost 6 years to finish. I have worked in two different clothing stores, a video store, a coffee shop / bookstore, another bookstore, a community center, and now the library. Each time I left one of those places, I hoped something there had been making me worse and that I would improve, but I only kept getting worse. That pattern continued until I was chronic daily and was pretty much forced to resign and apply for disability.

    However, even when I was at my sickest I was able to work from home. I can lie in bed with a laptop; I can control my own surroundings. I know this isn't much of an answer and it's certainly not a great one. But if you can find anything you can do from home, that is probably the only way to make your work environment less triggering for migraine.

    Take care and good luck! I certainly empathize with you as my family has money struggles also. <3 I may actually write an article about this.

    1. Hi Caitlyn,

      Thank you for sharing your very real struggle with us...and, as Roberts-Zibbel shared, you are not alone. Although I am not a career counselor, and I cannot give personal advice as to what you should do...I will mention that based on your experience and skill set, I could see you working directly for one of the product manufacturers (any product that is salon-based, ie- shampoo/styling products, sinks, dryers, color, etc.). These positions are typically home-based with site visits to the salons/spas within a territory region. The flexibility may offer you the time needed in the day if you experience migraine symptoms, and since this is a sales role, it can offer higher income opportunity. They also typically have trainer positions available with a similar set up (not sales-based). Best of luck to you, and please come back and let us know how you're doing.


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