Migraine and the Voices in My Head
Last updated: June 2022
Often, as migraine disease manifests itself in a person's life, other conditions accompany it. Sometimes there may be a condition that is a catalyst for a migraine attack, and other times migraine can open the door to other conditions. Two common conditions people who suffer from migraine disease often have are depression and anxiety. I've read articles that stated depression can be five times more likely to develop in a person with migraine disease than in someone who doesn't suffer from migraine. Anxiety is also common, and I've read that 20-50% of people with migraine disease also live with that burden.
Migraine was making my life more difficult
I have always lived a full and busy life. Helping raise and support our family has always been a huge driving force in my life. I felt good about the life my wife and I have built. I've never experienced the effects of depression or anxiety until migraine surfaced in my life. My attacks started as episodic, and I still felt mentally sound for many years. As the disease morphed throughout my life, it became chronic and then intractable. Each day became more and more difficult to manage as time went on. My attack cycles were constant, and they ground my brain into dust. During this time, I was hit with the reality that something had definitely shifted in my psyche.
I was in the throes of depression
I was feeling low, and life had become exhausting. I felt as if I was stuck in quicksand or a pit I just couldn't get out of. The pain of my attacks was excruciating, and so far, my body was actively resisting all forms of treatment. It felt hopeless. As if suffering through migraine attacks wasn't bad enough, I had depression dragging me down too. I'm not one to consider harming myself, but when I was trapped in the throes of severe attacks, those types of thoughts entered my mind. Luckily those dark times didn't last for me. Combination therapies helped lift some of that burden from me, and my attacks were not always severe.
I was spinning with anxiety
Anxiety creeping into the picture put a different spin on living with migraine disease. I look at it now and think it's only logical to be anxious with this type of disease. You start to worry about when the next attack will be. How severe will it be? How long will it last? What if I can't fulfill my obligations? What will my boss and coworkers think if I miss another day? The list can go on and on as if you are on a merry-go-round you can not get off. I try not to catastrophize while thinking these things, as that only makes things worse. Depression and anxiety feed off each other, and combined with migraine disease, it can be pretty hard to break those chains.
I have always been an optimist. I rely strongly on my faith and my family, and I use the experience and wisdom of others who understand what I am experiencing to light my way. There are many therapy regimens that can be used to manage migraine disease and its comorbidities. Finding a headache/migraine specialist is the best advice I can offer people. They understand how to help you manage migraine and its baggage. We deserve the chance to live our lives without these burdens. The road may be long, winding, and uphill in every direction, but we are strong individuals and will find our way to wellness!
Do you have a migraine toolbox for when an attack hits?
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