Why did my migraine attacks start?
Why did I get so sick?
Why is it worse for me than others?
When my migraine disease became chronic in 2011, this was the biggest question on my mind—and what I wanted the doctor to answer for me. I had woken up Christmas morning with the worst migraine of my life. The pain and disorientation was so bad I couldn’t leave my bed. My husband and family went to visit my Nana. That would be her last Christmas and I would miss it.
Why was I so sick all of a sudden?
I’ve come up with an analogy that I think helps explain it. About ten years ago I was an English teacher in Japan and I drove a little red Honda. I decided it would be fun one weekend to take it on a road trip to Hiroshima. With three friends and iPods in tow, we took the 6 hour drive down and back, and had a great time. After I got home, the Honda was due for inspection.
The mechanic called me and said: “You’ve got to get new tires! Your tires are so worn I can see the wires poking through!”
Oh dear, I thought. I was just a millimeter away from a potential blow-out.
Why does this matter?
It matters because that’s where my body was in December of 2011. Except, despite having had migraine disease pretty much my entire life, I was unable to avoid a blowout. I had finally been diagnosed just a few weeks before.
That Christmas migraine kick-started a seemingly never-ending cycle of attacks. Every day a new trigger would lead to a new attack. I should mention I lived in New York City at the time—the city of lights, sounds, smells—the city that never sleeps. It was a recipe for disaster. I desperately clung to the question of why. I figured if I knew what caused my blowout, I could get better.
Cause isn’t everything
Once you’ve experienced the ramifications of a blowout, new tires aren’t going to cut it. The damage done wasn’t going to go away with a simple answer to the question, “why?”
No matter the “why,” I was working towards my solution. I tried many medical and complimentary therapies for my migraine. Some helped and others were a complete flop, but all I could do was keep plugging away.
Time to move on
It was important to move on from the “why” and get to the “what.” What could I do now that I was in the situation? Of course, it’s good to never stop searching for a cause—your doctor can help run any tests needed to rule out an underlying condition that may be contributing to your migraine attacks. It’s also always helpful to parse out any factors that can be important. For me it was identifying triggers and stressors that led to attacks such as light sensitivity, stiff neck muscles, and getting the proper amount of sleep.
But “why” only led down a long, dark road of self-blame, guilt and regret. Asking “why” meant asking what I or others did wrong to cause my blowout.
Once I moved onto action, onto asking “what” can I do now, that’s when the healing began.