Woman lays in bubble bath with weights, tea, jump rope with stress emanating from her head.

The Day I Learned Migraines Weren't My Fault

I can admit when I’m wrong. Like the time I permed my hair in high school so I could look like a member of the band White Snake — that was wrong. And I was definitely wrong the time I told my husband he should...um...well...I’m sure I’ll think of something before this posts. The point is, I can freely admit when things are my fault. This is why I was quick to believe migraines were my fault too.

Is migraine my fault?

It was easy for me to jump aboard the "It’s-All-My-Fault migraine train" when friends, books, websites, and bubble gum wrappers all pointed out that if I fixed certain aspects about myself then my migraines would certainly vanish. So I went with my first lead: stress.

Would lowering stress stop my attacks?

“Migraines are caused by stress,” friends and strangers on the subway began, “You should relax more.” Clearly, it was my fault my stress level was so high - even though I didn't feel all that anxious. Still, it made logical sense that if I could figure out a way to lower my tension, I could stop my migraines.

In order to loosen up, I tried hot baths and hot tea but my pain persisted. In fact, trying to be less stressed out seemed to make me more stressed out! My worry and my migraines weren’t lessening so while still stressing about my stress levels, I moved onto another possible issue: lack of exercise.

What about exercising more?

“Migraines are caused by a lack of endorphins,” friends and people at the bus stop said, “You should exercise more.” That seemed a simple fix! A little more movement would loosen up my tight muscles (probably tight due to stress) and cure my migraines! I could definitely fix this one.

I worked out more than ever. I felt the endorphin rush kick-in after every kickboxing class. I was ready to kick my migraines to the curb! Then I felt something else kick in — a migraine. Then another migraine. Then another one…my migraines didn’t lessen. They increased.

Falling into a guilt cycle

I tried fixing one thing after another and nothing helped. My frustration at my inability to cure my head created a soul-crushing cycle of guilt. I was a failure and that’s how I felt during my first visit to a neurologist’s office. We talked about my migraines and their cycles.

Migraine is a neurological disease

Then my doctor said this: “There are triggers we can be cautious of and treatments we can try,” she began, “however migraines are a neurological disorder. They aren’t your fault.”

That day a weight lifted. I realized I’d created a deep belief based on the premise that I was the problem - not my migraines. I found evidence for this everywhere I looked and continued to get sucked into its con artist-like allure. No more.

I can totally admit when I’m wrong and I was wrong about my migraines. They weren't my fault. I couldn't fix them in the way I thought I could. What was my fault was my flawed belief that I was the problem.

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