Woman in despair cries and clutches her head as abstract darkness encroaches on her

Is Crying Triggering My Migraine Attacks?

There’s a popular saying that goes, “It’s the little things in life that matter most.” It’s one of those phrases that follows you from kiddom until adulthood, buried in your subconscious like the lyrics to all Beatles songs. When my life gets overwhelming, it’s this phrase that pops into my head — and it also reminds me about my migraine triggers. It can be the little triggers that set off a migraine. I mean, who knew a little crying would turn into a big migraine trigger?

What have I cried over?

I’ve cried over break-ups, holiday coffee commercials, and at one point, during every one of my son’s birthdays because, well…momming is emotional. Maybe it’s because these sobbing sessions were short-lived, but crying never bothered my head, only my stash of tissues. So, what's the difference now?

Admittedly, my crying as of late is stemming from deeper grief. My waterworks may come easily, but my words don’t. I find it hard to write the truth: My father passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack. It’s very recent, and it’s very raw.

How have I been avoiding migraine?

I find myself putting the brakes on my grieving process because it triggers a migraine. That’s weird, right? Should I just let the tears flow and the pain commence? While I've always been a fan of a good cry, I've never been a fan of a "good migraine." My solution so far has been to stop crying - not easy, but doable.

How have I halted my grieving?

While I’m vacuuming, I think absent-mindedly that I should borrow the steam cleaner vacuuming thingy from my dad. The dogs have tracked in some grossness, and his cleaner would really help. It takes me a minute to realize why I can’t do that — why I can’t call to ask. I can feel the sadness start in my stomach, and the tears are about to start, but I stop them. I take a breath and suck back the dirt with the vacuum while I suck back the tears.

What happened the last time I cried?

The last time I took a moment to cry long and hard, I felt better—like a 2-ton weight has been lifted from inside me. But then, an hour later, that heavy weight landed on my head. A doozy of a migraine began and I knew instantly it was the crying that triggered it. So, now I’m left in this weird phantom zone, not knowing how to handle my grief because I don’t want it to cause head pain.

How am I managing now?

Since crying is actually good for you (and it does make me feel better), I've decided to keep the tears flowing - sort of. I give myself time to cry, but only for so long. A lengthy hard cry is too much for my head to handle, so I'm settling for soft and short teary breaks. While it's not perfect, it offers me the release I need. It frees up space for the memories to flow - along with my tears.

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