Connecting The Dots: Migraine or Comorbidity?

I have seen several common threads when talking to people suffering from migraine disease. The most common one I see is that we all have comorbid conditions that complicate our lives. On its own, migraine disease can be very challenging to live with, but things can get messy when other conditions exist alongside it. Some of the most common conditions in people suffering from migraine disease are depression, anxiety, insomnia, IBS, stroke, epilepsy, and hypertension.1

How do migraine and comorbidities present?

One of the most fascinating and frustrating aspects of migraine disease is its integration into our bodies. Migraine is a living, breathing entity in my life. Its arms are far-reaching and can amplify other conditions, or a comorbidity will make its presence more pronounced.

What do my attacks look like?

During a migraine cycle, I am more irritable and anxious. My past patterns have proved that migraine has the potential to be mild to totally debilitating, depending on how it will manifest itself. When it stirs up my anxiety and depression, the heightened feelings lead to issues with my sleep or can make me deviate from my routines. Having a prolonged attack will cause depressive symptoms to act up. Missing subtle cues that a migraine is coming on due to another comorbid condition is frustrating. Looking back after an attack cycle like that, I can see how the migraine monster once again tricked me. It takes pleasure in hiding behind another condition!

What comorbidities do I live with?

Over the years of living with migraine, I have done tons of research. At first, I was surprised to see how migraine was associated with other conditions I have, but now nothing surprises me. Migraine is like a virus inside me. It mutates over time to find new ways to establish strongholds. I have thalassemia, thyroid issues, sleep apnea, chronic pain, and other conditions. For me, these conditions are either a catalyst for migraine or comorbidities of the illness. Sometimes I feel as if my body is a boat full of holes I need to plug to stay afloat. Some are small, while others are gaping and require immediate, intensive attention. Migraine and other co-morbidities have made me a more adaptive person, without a doubt!

Does migraine define who I am?

I want to encourage anyone living with migraine and all that comes with it that you are not your illness. It is a part of you, but it does not define you. You are so much more. You may not be able to live the life you formerly had, but your life can still be pretty sweet and filled with blessings. What has helped me is taking care of ME. It sounds selfish on the surface, but deep down, it’s one of the most significant gifts you can give to yourself AND those around you. It has made my life so much better and made it easier to change my attitude and perspective on so many things. I refuse to be bound by illness. It was always my choice, but it took me a while to get there! If you are feeling adventurous, search your conditions and see if you find the migraine monster hiding somewhere! I would be interested to hear what you all find. Feel free to share your thoughts and findings in the comments.

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