Have You Ever Felt Bored During a Migraine Attack?

I’m having a bad run of migraines and my previous neurologist has moved on, leaving me in a no man’s land of no neurologist while I wait for my appointment with my new one. As a result, I’m getting lots of migraine attacks and symptoms like aura, brain fog, headache, light sensitivity, nausea, and numbness, and I don’t yet have updated advice from a doctor. That’s a whole other issue I’m hoping to resolve ASAP, but one of my main problems at the moment is the anxiety and boredom I'm facing during the incapacitation cycle I keep finding myself in.

What stressors have triggered these attacks?

Being stressed will for sure make me more likely to have a migraine. Too bad I can’t really do much about stressors, only the resulting stress. My life is going to have things that put pressure on me and I can’t always control how I feel about those. For example, for the entire month of November minus a couple days, my kids have been out of school due to a teacher strike in Portland, Oregon, where we live. As much as I told myself the kids being out of school wasn’t the same as during the pandemic, my nervous system did not see reason and I was panicky, depressed, and on edge. My kids didn’t do too badly with the lack of school; in fact, they enjoyed it, but the transition back into the classroom was stressful for them (and therefore me).

How did I manage my day-to-day?

During the strike, I traded playdates and worked at night. It was for sure a power-through situation. On the last day of the strike, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, my head couldn’t take it any more. I’d relaxed a little on vacation at my dad’s house and the blood started pumping…right into my brain. I took some rizatriptan and flew home, sent my kids to school, and tried to catch up on work. Too bad as a freelancer, getting behind means I didn’t have as many assignments lined up as usual and I began to stress. The holiday season is not the time to have less paying work. The stress turned into a week-long cycle of migraine and postdrome in which I couldn’t look at my computer screen at all without getting an aura and eventual headache. So now I was another week behind.

What happened when the migraine settled in?

After a full week, I sunk into the migraine. I took myself home on Saturday after failing to finish Christmas shopping, put my headache hat on, got under the covers, and let the dog do her best to heal me by lying directly on my torso. Resting helped.

Too bad I was so bored. I hated not being able to work or enjoy my newest obsession, Triple Match 3D, a matching game on my phone another Portland parent told me helped keep her from panicking during the strike. I hated not being able to work on my creative projects, handle too many errands out in the world, or follow a conversation the way I usually can. I hated forgetting the word I wanted to say and being too tired and queasy to play with my kids. I hated that I couldn’t think of new ideas for articles or have enough mental energy to follow up on sources for the ones I still had to finish.

Were the symptoms or boredom worse?

I kept checking to see if my brain would work if I looked at my phone. Scrolling social media made my headache worse and firing up my computer only sent me back to bed. I could turn on the TV but I couldn’t really watch it. I really just needed to sleep but I couldn’t sleep all day. I didn’t feel quite bad enough. I had an annoying migraine that got worse the more I tried to do…anything. And the boredom was the thing that was making me unable to fully recover.

When did I finally find relief?

Finally, in a window of desperation, I braved the screen of my phone and looked up good audiobooks for sleep. I found one about trees and turned it on while I lounged on the couch. Maybe the meds finally started working. Maybe there was a change in barometric pressure or my hormone cycle. And maybe it was listening to a British man tell me about trees. But my migraine cleared like the clouds after a storm. It was totally gone by evening, leaving a postdrome which cleared by midday Saturday. I felt super energized, thrilled to be feeling well enough to take my kids to look at some Christmas lights in the neighborhood and hit up the grocery store. But, as someone who doesn’t much go in for mindfulness and a quiet brain, I have not yet found the way to prevent the dreaded cycle from repeating.

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