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Don’t Let Fear Stop You

Don’t Let Fear Stop You

I had a lot of unrealistic fears that kept me from seeking help for migraine. Those fears prevented me from accessing the very treatments that could have offered relief. If I had been willing to seek treatment earlier in life, I might never have dealt with Medication Overuse Headache. There’s a good chance that migraine would not have transformed into Chronic Migraine. I certainly wouldn’t have been forced to give up my dream job.

Fear is normal.

Fear is a normal, healthy emotion. It keeps us safe from things that will harm us. Like all emotions, it can be fueled by truth (healthy) or by lies and lack of information (unhealthy). My fear of seeking migraine treatment was based on my ignorance and the trust I put in unreliable, uninformed sources. It was unhealthy fear.

Fear is useful.

The natural response to fear is to protect yourself by aggression (fight), running away (flight), or refusing to act (freeze). I chose to freeze – to dig in and refuse to change. I accepted my lot in life because I believed that any attempt to change it would result in catastrophic failure. If I tried to get better, I would only get worse. By refusing to act, my problem did get worse until it destroyed my dreams.

Fear is strong.

Rational or irrational, fear is powerful. It can compel us to act in crazy ways or freeze us right in our tracks. When gripped by fear, we do not think clearly. We only react. When our lives are in danger, fear is our friend. Most of the time, though, fear is our enemy. It feeds off of ignorance and myth, paralyzing us and keeping us from doing what is truly in our best interests. It is only by feeding it the truth that we can ever hope the break its grip.

The antidote to fear is truth.

I didn’t let go of my fears until I got an education. By learning the truth about migraine, my fear subsided. Free from its grasp, I was finally able to make good choices that resulted in better migraine management. Even as I was taking proactive steps to improve my health, fear would creep in, making me question my choices. It took a lot of truth, given in repeat doses over many years, before all the fears finally disappeared. It was only when I acted against my fears that I finally broke the cycle.

Overcoming fear brings freedom.

Even when some of my fears came true, I discovered that the results were not as devastating as I had imagined. Nothing I feared ever resulted in the kind of disaster my mind had dreamed up. That’s the nasty thing about fear – it exaggerates the negative. I learned to fight against fear rather than fight the things I feared. That’s something I could not do until I learned the truth about migraine.

  • I feared the side effects of treatments until I learned that there were hundreds of treatments to choose from. I learned that there would always be another option and that side effects are almost always reversible. I also discovered that some side effects were preferable to migraine attacks.
  • I feared that doctors would not believe me, think I was crazy, or tell me there was no hope. I learned that lots of doctors were willing and able to help me without any of that nonsense. That gave me confidence to walk away from the ones who did treat me poorly or gave me no hope. Because I knew the truth, I was able to speak up for myself.
  • I feared never finding a way to stop migraine. That fear was based on the belief that migraine was something that could actually be cured. Once I learned that migraine was a disease without a cure, I was able to accept that I could learn to manage it, live with some symptoms, and still have a great life.

Are you still gripped by fear?

Do fears of doctors, treatments, or prognosis of migraine still keep you from getting the care you deserve? Do you still need more information to help you face your fears? What would it take for you to break free?

Have you conquered fear?

Maybe you’re like me. Share how you overcame your fears. Maybe our combined stories will help the next person who needs a little extra nudge in the right direction.

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.


  • Yamihere
    3 years ago

    I’m one of the unfortunates who suffers from both Hashimoto’s disease and chronic migraine. Though I live in the most populous county in SoCal, there are not as many experts as you’d for either condition. Those who do – and incidentally those doctors treat both – don’t accept insurance. Payment at the desk BEFORE initial consultation. Average for that is $795. First follow-up $495. I think it’s &295 – $350 after that. Lab fees are separate.

    You may bill your insurance company. Me? Well, my employer ONE OF THE LARGEST “CATHOLIC” HEALTHCARE SYSTEMS IN THE COUNTRY whose HQ is in Washington state has these plan options:
    Cheap HMO
    More expensive HMO
    HSRA – Health Savings Reimbursement Account – you estimate how much you & your family will spend on healthcare next year, divide by 26 (pay periods/year), put that amount in to be deducted pre-tax from your check. THIS IS FOR MEDICAL EXPENSES & PRESCRIPTIONS ONLY. If you understand this system and complete their online survey (for each insured family member) or other “incentive” activities like a good little comrade – wait no, I meant employee – before the ens od the open enrollment period, the Party – sorry, I meant Employer! – deposits $1400 for each person covered.


    PRESCRIPTIONS must be filled by one of the six pharmacies in the Party’s – sorry, meant employer’s – network. Prescriptions ordered by a licensed physician filled anywhere else will not be covered, even if NONE of those pharmacies can or will fill the Rx. You won’t be reimbursed & the cost does not count toward your Rx deductible. If you can’t itemize your income tax too bad. If you can itemize your return but the medical expenses aren’t 7.5% or more of your AGI, too bad. Some of the meds can be filled for less than MSRP at the worksite pharmacy, which will send such a Rx across the street to you while you’re at work if you live in this valley, where many of do live, 25 or more miles away. Individuals residing here in violation of immigration law have better coverage than the comrades working for the Party – dang, I did it again!

    And this Rx policy denies medications you won’t believe – generic medications for cholesterol, for example. My bad cholesterol & triglycerides rise due to Hashi’s, not my diet or exercise. You heard the TV ads for statins warning that any sudden muscle pain is dangerous, stop taking the med & call your doctor. People with Hashimoto’s disease tend to have LOTS of food, drug and substance allergies. I’m allergic to all statins (and for the record, all NSAIDs, Ultram, Topamax and every gabapentin class drug such as Relafen & Lyrics). I was using the MD’s Lovaza (super concentrated fish oils) & Tricolor as I’d been doing for nine months arguing back & forth with BCBS until I was approved. The next month my lab test numbers showed the problem was controlled. So BCBS notified me that authorization was revoked. And I’d never get approval again unless my triglycerides WERE 500/DL OR MORE!! The doc’s jaw literally dropped when he saw that, as he gasped “but you’d be DEAD!” Yup. Their approach to healthcare for the union members is close to the Veterans Administration. I have personal experience with them too so I’m qualified to make that call.

    Point: they won’t cover common, cheap generic drugs. They tried to cut my 12 MAXALT/month to 9! When I called BCBS I lit into the cubicle drone and asked what dumbass made that decision to save money, she blathered that “perhaps people taking them hadn’t explored other options.” – MY A**! I got back my 12. But the prior auth must be renewed annually.


    As for doctors: Hashi’s victims thyroids cause episodes of hyperactivity then hypoactive periods with sudden unexplained weight gain/loss such as 30 lbs in five weeks, mood swings, insomnia, changes in speech, vision, heart rate – in short, it causes people to wonder whether the victim is abusing illegal substances. They’re freezing when others wear tank tops, they’re dripping with sweat when other are cool. And I’ve been to FIVE endocrinologists THIS YEAR.

    The Commissar and her political officers – I mean, manager and her supervisors – were told over six years ago about my disease and migraines. Not one ever bothered to read up on the symptoms. They’ve never made a single accommodation for those issues, or the issues stemming from an undisputed work injury. I required a right knee replacement, another open surgery because it wasn’t done right & two arthroscopic knee procedures (remove scar tissue on right, tore something in left babying the right). Right rotator cuff “totally blown” was PT’s description and right deltoid ripped latertheir required screws tomout it back in place. Broken shoulder had to be rebroken & set, 10-20% of right clavicle was so friable it crumbled away when the surgeon’s scope touched it. The ONLY “restriction” I could have in returning to work was “not more than two consecutive shifts” (twelve hour shifts). The left shoulder is messed up because I was trying to protect the right.

    As a demonstration of their “Catholic core values” – Justice, Excellence, Respects, Compassion and Stewardship (JERCS)” I was denied less physically demanding assignments or new positions as educators for which I’m far more qualified than the second guy she awarded it to (he speaks only English; I’m fluent in one, conversant in two, and can get by with two more). Usual assignment: all patients on floors 4, 5, 6 & 7 in the newest building, where all rooms are larger. (I’m Catholic. The Lord had strong words for those who abuse or cheat employees. Maybe their Bible has a different translation. Maybe they’re just hypocrites.)

    Nine months ago she was lecturing me in her office about what “people thought about (me)” due to symptoms, I said, “You’ve been manager for four years. You were told about these issues. Did you EVER look up what symptoms might be?” Clearly not, she started to make a note. “You know that if your diabetic employee appears intoxicated you should check his blood sugar before making accusations. But you’ve NEVER ONCE checked the symptoms for MY issues?”

    Nope. And did nothing to help me do the things I needed to do to prevent migraine, like make sure I had 15 minutes to eat breakfast – BEFORE 10:30, since shift begannat 0600.

    My PCP wanted me to see a shrink (no, really? This level of stress and anxiety is inappropriate to the cause?) for medication management of bipolar symptoms (maybe not all is the Hashimoto’s), I called every single one in the network up to 30 miles away. No luck. BCBS had two TEAMS look for a week. No luck. They said they’d have to pay for whoever I found who would accept a new patient this year. Appointment Tuesday. After searching and calling since last few days of September.

    And oh, I forgot to mention that I can’t take SSRIs because I’m part of the <1% who has serious adverse effects.

    The MD wants me to try Botox. Right. If YOU had all those drug allergies (in addition to food allergies), such that you couldn't safely take a regular "flu" shot – wouldn't YOU be afraid?

    So if anyone had the time and compassion to read this far, please pray for me. After 22 years of employment I will be terminated next month if I can't get back to work. And she won't take me unless the problems are being addressed. My PCP said "go back to work, THEY might think you're malingering." That gave their third party administrator SEDGWICK RHEY ARE EVIL LOOK THEM UP cause to deny the disability when I wasn't allowed to go back. I won't get access to the LTD insurance I've paid into for over two decades.

    Maybe when I am unemployed and lose my home, eligible for MediCal and MediCare – I'll be eligible for actual health care.

  • arden
    3 years ago

    I read it all. Only solution: shoot yourself. No really, you have a sense of humor,be thankful for that. Maybe, just maybe, the new President will shake up the Party and we’ll get some actual health care going. I pray you will find your way. Never give up. All He asks is that we be faithful and do the best we can. It is but a moment between two eternities.

  • kamadew
    3 years ago

    I am so sad to read of your traumatic experiences with medications. I, too have become chronic. If there are 3 days in a month that are migraine free I feel blessed.
    But I am very surprised to learn of such negative experiences with Topomax! There is literally no drug or treatment out there that I haven’t tried (including 2 ONS implants). I am now, at age 65, have been chronic for 22 years, and the one med that has endured, that I would never give up, is Topomax! For me, it is someone extremely nearsighted with astigmatism getting glasses. It eliminates completely the “foggy brain” syndrome so many of us (especially me) experience. It’s a mini-miracle in pill form (400 mg. twice a day). And no negative side effects. I am so sorry it hasn’t worked as well for you. I know different people use it with different results, which is the basic truth of our migraine experience. Just keep trying until you find the answer that works best for you, that allows you to live at least some portion of your life with gratitude and joy. Which is why we can’t allow fear to prevent us from doing whatever it takes to stake claim to our lives. There is nothing I haven’t tried or won’t try in the future if it will allow me a pain fee day with my granddaughters. I wish the best possible life for you. Be strong, courageous, and believe that nothing can be worse than just letting migraines steal your life.

  • Brooke H moderator
    3 years ago

    Hi Kamadew,

    Thank you for sharing your experience with medication. Like you mentioned, it can be so tricky to find the right treatment. It’s excellent you’ve been able to find with Topomax that your cognitive symptoms improve. I do hope you are able to find an additional treatment that reduces the frequency of you migraines. We so appreciate your supportive words to the community! Please come here anytime for support.

    Brooke ( team)

  • Yamihere
    3 years ago

    There IS something worse than that. It’s trying to provide quality medical care to YOUR patients 12 hours a day at my facility knowing that all the money taken from your wages for insurance won’t cover medications or treatments which could help you.

    It’s giving 150% to your patients because you’re a professional, while management makes no accommodation for ANY of your issues. It’s watching the clock go from 6 AM to 10:30 AM without breakfast and it’s 2:15 PM until lunch, and you KNOW all those sets you up for a whopping migraine – and so do they, but they don’t give a damn. It’s being lectured because your face shows the strain of hiding the symptoms, YOU CAN’T LOOK LIKE THIS AT WORK!

    And it’s worse knowing that there’s no way you’ll be hired anywhere else at age 60 with these issues – even if they didn’t own every facility within 25 miles. It’s worse wondering whether this migraine is going to be another episode of Hashimoto’s encephalitis, whether you’ll be safe to drive home, whether this will be a stroke that kills you.

    Don’t mean to be rude. But in my situation there are many worse things. Knowing that a specialist who treats both serious health concerns is simply out of your budget and your “Catholic” employer simply will not pay.

  • Janet
    3 years ago

    I was on topamax twice…first for 2 years but the weight loss, shaking and nervousness, not to mention the stuttering, enamel loss on my teeth and loss of words and eye sight issues…I asked my doc to wean me off……years later, which is now 8 years ago I had a “stupid” moment and asked the doc to put me back on topamax….migraines were once again under control quickly..however my dentist knew right away as the enamel was weakening and I was told that doesn’t come back once gone…the stutter and stupid me to increased…2 years ago I had EXTENSIVE periodontal surgery because of bone loss attributed to topamax says my periodontist and dentist …the surgery (a 3-1/2 hr. Procedure under anesthesia 🙁 has brought me back into chronic migraine mode since all narcotic pain relievers for the surgery are all migraine triggers…so I had to rely on ibuprofen 600 for 3 months 4 times a day…we all know that does nothing for migraine…the surgery was full mouth and gum replacement….so long long long long story short..topamax is not the answer…I’m sure I’m in MOH but with butalbital and clonazepam I would not make it through the day…along with frova or imitrex….it’s a lose lose for me anyway. Sorry to be long winded…but I do not under any circumstances recommend topamax for anyone…my memory is gone and the stutter stayed and I feel embarrassed because I feel like an idiot most of the time because there is no public awareness in my circle and my circle is my family who live thousands of miles from me and really don’t care…my husband of 35-1/2 years still doesn’t get it….not long ago there was an article about faking and disguise…I do it so well nobody knows the agony I’m in if I get out of bed, let alone leave the house, I think migraine brain took over this post. Readers, you have my sincerest apologies.

    Be well,
    Janet Jones

  • kamadew
    3 years ago

    Janet, at age 65 with daily migraines, having literally gone through every drug and procedure available (I was shocked when my insurance approved a 2nd ONS implant a year after the first one immediately became horribly infected),I only discovered a year ago. It has completely redefined my life. I now understand why I do the “weird” things I do, get lost, forget what you told me 10 minutes ago, have no motivation no matter how much I want or need to do something, am so distractible, etc., etc. I am creating tools to help me in the areas where I am disabled. Because we all have a genetic disorder that not only gives us these horrendously painful migraines, there is a whole host of other cognitive disorders that go along with that diagnosis and I fired my “migraine specialist” neurologist with righteous anger for not knowing and informing me about all these life-altering conditions. And now I am educating, bit by bit, all my family and friends to the fact that migraines aren’t just a bad headache, but a genetic disorder encompassing myriad symptoms. Those closest to me pro e it by signing up to receive the newsletter. I have a debilitating, incurable dis-ease, condition, illness, whatever you want to call something that invades your life and your head to the degree that there are times you wonder if is worth going on if it never going to get better. I will not, can not hide all that from anyone. Especially someone who professes to care for me. All of me or none of me. You don’t get to choose the parts you like and leave me alone to deal with the nastier bits. That’s not how love and caring work. So we are all getting educated together. And at the end of the first reluctant year, I see it bearing fruit. Friends bringing me a book on migraines they picked up at a book fair. My son emails me about a new treatment that is very successful and they hope will be available by this time next year. My sister, who always had to pick up the slack when I couldn’t get out of bed has read so many other people’s stories that she came one day, and, crying asked forgiveness for always being so mean. She said she thought I was just being lazy. She had no idea. The more we educate ourselves and the people in our lives, the more we enable both ourselves and others to be truly helpful and supportive. Relationships that smoldered with resentment or grew cold with distance flourish and grow in the light of truth, caring, and helping one another. Foster a foundation of trust and step out into your life.

  • tinab
    3 years ago

    My fear is of the daily medications to control migraines. I’ve been on many and have had some kind of side effect from all. Some seemed worth it at the time, some didn’t.

    The last one I tried was Topomax. My doctor worked with the dose and we got my migraines down. Then 2 yrs into it, I was having chronic sinus infections which is already an issue with me and had LARGE kidney stones in both kidneys. Not only that, I would go to say something and it was like the words just weren’t there. I couldn’t think of the words I was trying to say. My mind would go blank, etc. And for someone who gave presentations at least 4 times a month in front of an Executive Board in their job, that’s a huge issue! I went off the meds.

    Now 7 yrs later where I seem to take ibuprofen and excedrin by the handful, I’ve been thinking about finding another doctor and getting put on more meds, but the fear lingers. I still have 1 of the kidney stones and my words still don’t come as they should.

  • Yamihere
    3 years ago

    Yup. And your manager says, “Why can’t you take Topamax like Jane? She doesn’t have migraines anymore!”

  • Maureen
    3 years ago

    I, too, am afraid of MOH! I blame it for alot of my problems. Sudafed, you turned on me! Sure you helped…and then look what you did to me!!!! But, if I had been correctly diagnosed with migraine (Honestly, the first thing I told the EMTs was that I felt like I had an axe in my face. Really? No thought of migraine anyone? And I had a weird feeling like I was watching myself in a movie? Did those doctors have no training in migraine and/or no imagination? In their defense, I did truly have an actual sinus infection that I was hospitalized for, but I digress). So after 20 years of misusing sudafed to treat my recurring sinus infections brought on by migraine, I finally became chronic and was properly diagnosed. YUCK! YIKES! So now I’m on the opposite end, where I probably under-medicate out of fear.

    But the other night, the wise, innocent words of my husband, broke through to me. I said, “I don’t know if I should take my migraine medicine or not.” He innocently, wisely said… “Why would you not?????”

    Why would I not? I’ve been on a good streak. I’m nowhere close to my limit. My head hurts and I have medicine handy. WHY WOULD I NOT???????


    Why would I not take any acetaminophen or ibuprofen for the aching in my knees and legs from sitting around all day trying to keep my head from hurting?


    So here’s my strategy for you: Ask someone who loves you what to do.

    “Why would you not?”

  • Yamihere
    3 years ago

    Actually my husband is afraid of Botox for me too. He read about the ADVERSE EFFECTS WHICH MIGHT NOT SHOW UP FOR WEEKS and said, “You’re not going to force that on my wife. WTH are you thinking, look at how many drug and food allergies she has! You just want her problems to be some other doctor’s problems. If she died it wouldn’t be your problem, would it.”

  • migrainemom1
    3 years ago

    Great answer! I ask my best friend, who also suffers, because at the time of a migraine I can not make good decisions. Good luck!

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