From Childhood to Adulthood: A Journey Through Decades of Migraine Attacks

It’s been about 35 years that I’ve lived with migraine. My first attack was in elementary school when the teacher – and school nurse – thought I just didn’t want to be in class. Over the decade since then, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to raise awareness and understanding of this invisible condition.

What were my elementary years with migraine like?

As a child it was especially hard, because debilitating migraine attacks in childhood were rather uncommon. As a child, you also don’t have the communication skills that you need to really advocate for yourself.

Children are too often not believed, so that certainly didn’t help my journey. It also felt a bit like groundhogs’ day, because with each new school year came another round of education to my new teacher. If I was fortunate enough to educate my teacher from the previous school year, I was back to square one for the new school year.

How did I manage in my adolescence?

Once I reached adolescence, I learned how to speak up both in appointments with my doctor as well as with family, friends, and my school community. I was better able to explain my pain and patterns, so we could get a better plan together. I also had the desire to start being more proactive with my own healthy habits to see how I could best reduce the frequency and intensity of the attacks.

What were my experiences as a young adult?

I felt like I really caught my stride as a young adult. I felt really empowered when I started making changes to my diet and getting positive results. I started to see more clearly the connection between food and migraine attacks. Avoiding chocolate and any artificial sweeteners became a non-negotiable for me. They weren’t worth the pain that they caused.

I also started to explore options that would help to cut the edge of the pain when I did have an attack. Massage, ice packs, essential oils, and certain stretches became really helpful for me. They didn’t take the place of rescue medicine, nor did they completely eliminate the attack, but they did bring me comfort in the midst of an attack.

How did motherhood change me?

Entering motherhood with migraine felt overwhelming, especially during pregnancy and nursing when I was limited with medication options. It was a rather stressful time because my hormones were on a rollercoaster for a wonderful reason, but it often felt anything but wonderful to my throbbing head.

Now that I’m back to a place where I can embrace medication during an attack, there’s a great level relief that comes with that. However, as a parent, there’s a new and heightened level of responsibility to show up the best way possible for my daughter each day. For me that means setting better boundaries to accommodate for the healthy habits that help me to best manage migraine. This includes rest, eating well, staying hydrated, taking my supplements and having some consistent exercise throughout my week. It all sounds easy on paper, but we know all too well, life happens and we can easily get derailed from the very habits that support our health. So, prioritizing this through the ups and downs is important to me.

Have you experienced migraine through different seasons in life? What helped you to best navigate it? Please share below so we can learn from you too!

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