Chocolate bar hesitantly knocks on door; entryway reveals portraits of tea, puzzle pieces

Chocolate Does NOT Trigger My Migraine Attacks

Please, please stop telling me to stop eating chocolate! I wish it were that simple to make my migraine stop, but migraine triggers never are. I still remember being an inpatient for three weeks of intensive migraine treatment and being “banned” from the hospital store! However, one good thing that came out of it was discovering that chocolate was not a trigger. If I’m honest about it, that was a glorious day!

Feeling in control when identifying migraine triggers

Some of you may feel like that about wine, caffeine, or other triggers traditionally considered to be culprits. Maybe this doesn’t seem like a big deal to some. However, discovering that these bear no relevance can be liberating for a disease that takes so much away from us. Regaining just a LITTLE bit of control, even over something that is not considered essential to life, can be a BIG deal.

Migraine is no respecter of wants

Just like millions of others, I live with a disease that is no respecter of my wants. I want to be able to work full-time. I want to go back to school and do my Masters. I want to be able to hang out with my friends. I want… well… I want what I consider to be a normal life with things that so many take for granted.

Things migraine has made me miss doing

If I were to count the things I miss doing the list would go on and on, but top of the list are these:

  • Working fulltime (think: sudden absences)
  • Going back to school (think: missed deadlines)
  • Hanging out with friends (think: frequent cancellations; trigger exposure)
  • Eating out at a restaurant (think: trying to avoid other diners… and the server!)
  • Going to a movie theater (think: flashing lights, loud noise, scents)
  • Walking down a grocery aisle (think: how long can you hold your breath?!)
  • Exercise (think: raised pulse with explosive attack to follow)
  • Going for a walk by the beach (think: trying to avoid people, sun, wind, humidity)
  • Going on vacation (think: trip to a strange ER)
  • Attending a religious service (think: scents, scents, and more scents)

Deciding whether or not to take a risk

It’s easy to focus on these things. The things that have gradually, and often insidiously, become impractical. The question all too often is, “Do I take a risk and deal with the consequences?” Deciding yes means downtime to deal with a likely attack, and sometimes that is a cost worth bearing. Deciding against the risk means it’s easy to get depressed and discouraged at the huge list of nos.

It's the small things in life that matter

However, maybe there’s another option. A choice to focus on the small things that are more feasible. A choice to enjoy the small pleasures of life, which are often those that leave the best memories! Pondering on life that way helped me think about what those small things are for me.

My favorite small things

I’m sure that your list is different, but here are ten of my favorites:

  1. Chocolate – definitely top of my list for a little emotional pick-me-up
  2. British tea – a cuppa PG Tips tea makes everything seem better (especially when combined with a British cookie or candy!)
  3. Taking a short walk – on those days when both the weather and my head cooperate and “play nice”
  4. Doing a jigsaw puzzle – yes, I’m one of those puzzle nerds!
  5. Board games – an easy way to build memories with family and friends
  6. Bubble bath and book – just don’t drop your phone in the bath if you’re into e-books!
  7. Movie marathon – great for giving your body and mind a break
  8. Taking photos – taking pictures of nature is creative and relaxes the mind
  9. Hugging – we all need physical touch and hugging makes you feel loved
  10. Advocating – there’s nothing like helping others to take your mind off your own pain

Enjoying the small things with migraine

So, the next time someone tells you to stop eating chocolate, or some other traditional trigger, take a breath! Invite them into your world and help them understand that migraine is not a simple disease. That sometimes these small things are big things. That what they don’t consider essential may have become essential to you. And that for many of us, it is the small delights that help us face tomorrow! And now it’s time for me to have a cuppa tea and some chocolate!

What are the things that you most miss doing? What are some of the small things that bring you joy?

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