Person with grumpy face storms into living room, scaring couple and dog on couch

I'm Not Cranky Before My Migraine, You Are! My Strange Migraine Forewarning

While tying my shoes, my fingers fumble, and suddenly I want to tell my shoes to take a hike. Not long after, when I tried to situate the cups in the dishwasher, none of them cooperated. The combination of expletives that ran through my head made me think about washing my brain out with the dishwashing detergent. Clearly, I was cranky. The thing was, there was no real reason for my mood to have soured. Uh, oh. It might be migraine time.

Looking for classic symptoms

I’m kind of an organized person. It’s a trait I've carried my whole life. I was that kid who loved going to the store weeks before school started to stock up on those crisp, unopened supplies. As an adult, I still haven’t lost my affinity for daily planners, colored markers, and all things that can be clearly classified. This is why when my migraines first started, I looked for all those classic symptoms that went along with them.

I noticed some traditional signs like photophobia, nausea, and then the "before they even started" feeling of extreme fatigue. After years of dealing with migraines that made my head feel like it was on fire along with someone pummeling it with golf balls, I slowly noticed some strange unorganized indicators that one might show up. These freaked me out because I couldn’t find them on a list of classic symptoms—at first.

Out-of-character frustrations

“Are you alright? You seem on edge…” my husband asked me as I slam-dunked my dirty clothes into the hamper.

“I’m not cranky! You are!” I shot back at him, surprised at my outburst.

It was these out-of-character eruptions that made me stop and take notice. I thought back to see if I was holding onto any pent-up frustration or sadness—and usually, I couldn’t find any. That’s when I noticed about an hour or so later, my first migraine twinges would start. Was this seriously a pre-migraine warning?

Crankiness as a prodrome symptom?

I didn’t always become cranky before my migraines, but I started taking stock of how often this occurred, and it was a good 70% of the time. It felt a little strange knowing this might be a prodrome symptom, mainly because it seemed so unusual. I’d never heard of anyone else becoming a cranky-pants right before their migraine cycle started. How very unorganized of my brain.

Then one day, while visiting my very first migraine specialist, she offhandedly said, “My patient knows her migraine is coming when she gets super crabby. Her mood shift signals her that a migraine is starting.”

Wow. Perhaps my brain wasn’t as unorganized as I first thought.

Now I know when an attack is coming

It’s taken some time, but now, I use my sudden shift in mood to help me gauge my migraine attacks. If I feel crankiness overtake me, I can start my migraine relief protocol early. This way, I can use my bad mood for good and try to stop my head pain before it has a chance to start.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.

Community Poll

Do you feel comfortable advocating for yourself to your healthcare provider?