Guest Post: The Top 14 Things Every New Migraine Sufferer Should Know
We are pleased to share this guest post with you by Holly Hazen (full bio below).
The top 14 things every new migraine sufferer should know…
… from a fellow sufferer who’s been there, done that and got the t-shirt!
Tips on managing migraine
Being diagnosed with migraines can be pretty life-shattering. But, by combining trust in yourself with some careful planning and a lot of perseverance, you really can manage your migraines - instead of letting your migraines manage you.
Here are my top tips to help every new migraineur on their journey to accepting this challenging condition, and finding what works best for them:
- A migraine might start in your head… but it’s not “all in your head”. It’s a very real, neurological condition that - right now - has no cure.
- When you’ve been diagnosed, educate yourself about the exact type of migraine you have. Learn about the different kinds of treatment medications available.
- Never forget: a migraine is not “just a headache” to be dismissed and ignored. Migraines have 4 phases they go through: prodrome, aura, pain or headache phase, and postdrome. The longer you wait to take action, the worse it can get.
- Be prepared to experiment with medications (on the advice of your doctor). You might need to combine different types; for example, I take Naramig 2.5 mgs (naratriptan) and Brufen (ibuprofen) 400mgs at my earliest signs of an attack.
- Don’t lose years of your life like I did, just because I didn’t want to take pills. Migraine medications are being developed all the time, and when you find the right one(s) for you, they could help you get back some control and get back to normal functioning faster. And that means getting back to your life.
- Don’t be disheartened by the trial and error nature of finding the right medication. Perseverance is key, as is developing a watertight pain management plan.
- If you really don’t want to (or can’t) take medication, developing an alternative pain management strategy becomes even more crucial. But, it’s definitely worth experimenting with medication, just so you can have the right ones at your fingertips should you change your mind.
- It’s so easy to feel hatred towards the migraines, and to be consumed by overwhelmingly negative feelings about it all. But try and be kind and gentle with yourself. If you can, find somewhere in your body that doesn’t hurt and direct positive energy towards that instead of focusing on the pain.
- My very best piece of advice: learn to identify your early warning signs and symptoms. You can prevent or lessen the severity of your migraine if you act early enough, so taking the time to figure out your early warning signals is so worth it in the long run.
- Spend some time learning how to treat a migraine attack with ice and heat, and integrate these into your pain management plan. Generally speaking, ice on the back of your neck and a hot water bottle on your hands and feet can help to ease the attack.
- A number of factors may trigger migraines, including food and food additives, so keeping a food diary can help you to figure out if there’s anything particular you need to avoid.
- Plan ahead of time, and pack your own little survival kit so you know you can deal with your migraine if it strikes while you’re out and about. For example, if you vomit during an attack, have a zip lock bag and face cloth with you at all times.
- It’s OK to be scared. The pain, the uncertainty, the anxiety… it can feel so overwhelming and insurmountable. But getting your medication sorted, as well as creating your pain management strategy, and having ‘survival’ plans in place can help to ease the fear a lot.
- Persevere. Things will get better. You’ll learn what to do, and how to help your body and your mind cope with these attacks. Learn to listen to your body, and you’ll be able to respond in the way that it needs.
Listen to your body
I once met a lovely lady who, in the face of absolute resistance from her friends and family, followed her own path when she was diagnosed with cancer. She wanted to move to the country to heal, so she left her husband and children behind, bought a little rundown cottage and started to fix it up. She loved the garden she created and which she’d never been able to have in the city. I met her two years after she’d had the all clear and I will never forget her words to me…
“Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t heal your own body or that what you are doing - the path you have chosen - is wrong. Persevere, even when everyone tells you you’re wrong. And you will find what works. I wouldn’t be here today if I’d listened to them all. I had to learn to listen to myself.”
Biography: Holly Hazen
Migraines turned Holly Hazen’s world upside down. She went from being super charged to super terrified, and super athletic to super “I think this pain might kill me!” Dealing with such severe, relentless chronic pain and the ensuing depression, she stopped being able to function.
With many years invested in the pursuit of resilience Holly the Migraine Coach evolved. With a Master’s Degree in Counselling and Applied Psychotherapy (MCAP), an award winning book, online course and her MigraineSavvy.com website, Holly is now a strong resource for other sufferers who want to manage their own chronic illness.
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