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A silhouette of a person with their head opened up like a box lid with overlapping speech bubbled representing "the committee" in the authors head.

Day 3 of Migraine: When the Rubber Meets the Road!

We all have our little secrets – things that we simply don’t want to talk about or don’t want others to know. Mine is dealing with the emotional impact of a long-term chronic illness and its friendly comorbid conditions! More specifically, anxiety and depression. It’s something I don’t like to talk to my doctors about because there is a tendency to blame everything on stress, and that is sadly especially true for women. I don’t like to talk to my friends about it because… well, if you don’t have chronic pain then it’s really hard, if not impossible, to “get” chronic pain and what it’s like living with it! And my family… for a long time, it was a non-subject because I was simply too busy “putting a face” on it.

This one’s not going to go away!

However, there are some days when it’s simply unavoidable to face, and for me, that tends to be day 3 of a bad migraine. Don’t get me wrong, I have some level of pain almost every day, and if not in my head then it’s my joints, back, or elsewhere. But, it’s those really bad migraine attacks that simply don’t respond well to rescue medications. It’s those ones which keep coming back day after day as the meds wear off which really get to me.

Day ONE, I try to focus on being hopeful that it will be short-lived, respond well, and the meds will knock it out permanently the first time. By day TWO, after 24 hours of little success, I’m already starting to think about how to manage an intractable migraine, risk versus benefit, and the consequences of staying in bed too long. Panic is starting to set in. However, it’s on day THREE that the rubber really meets the road. The “committee in my head” (as I like to call it) is shouting loud – “This one’s not going to go away!”, “You’re in trouble”, and “Welcome to the rest of your life!”

What is going on?

It’s hard to figure out why there are often these breakpoints for so many of us. I have my theories, but as for everything else with migraine, it’s complex with no real solid answers! I really want to try and understand things – I guess in some way that gives me back a little bit of control – and so for me, it helps to realize that there are multiple factors impacting how I feel:

  • The physiological effect of taking multiple rescue or abortive meds over a period of days or weeks
  • The emotional impact of ongoing physical pain that isn’t stopping and the exhaustion that so often comes along for the ride
  • The fear of side effects from taking multiple medications to try and stop the pain
  • The physiological impact of the migraine attack itself

Looking ahead – have a plan!

Maybe for most of us it’s a combination of all these four factors, or maybe there is something my foggy migraine brain hasn’t thought about yet! Hopefully one day the researchers will figure that out, but for now, when you’re at that point where the rubber meets the road, whenever that may be for you, here are some thoughts:

  1. Take a breath! You’ve survived this far, and as challenging as this is, you are going to survive this too! Sometimes just realizing that you’ve been through something before can help reduce the panic. Knowing that for me, day 3 is a landmark, helps me plan and be able to hold on. It’s normalizing in some way.
  2. Talk to your doctor about what is safe to take, as well as how much is safe, when it comes to treating the pain. It’s often a balance between risk and quality of life, so those conversations are super important. Often when we are in pain it’s hard to make wise decisions, so try to have a plan ahead of time!
  3. Be kind to yourself, whatever that means to you because when we do that, we often find the anxiety and depression gets less – or at least they become easier to manage.
  4. Be gentle on your body and give it the rest it needs. It’s so easy to fight or try to “push through”, and sometimes that is necessary, but healthy boundaries help us become more resilient.

You are not alone!

Finally, know that you are not alone! There are so many of us who struggle with migraine and other forms of chronic pain, and it impacts our lives in every way. Try to connect with others who “get it.” Trying calling, texting, messaging or emailing a friend when things are the hardest, or post in one of the online migraine groups, and discover the strength that comes from a community!

Do you have a specific day or time when the rubber meets the road? Do you find that anxiety or depression are worse during a migraine attack? If so, what helps you get through those hard times?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • August
    2 months ago

    I have supported this site for months. Took your survey, but not feeling very welcome. Please don’t make it harder to log into your site. I posted comments re: most embarrassing thing at work, was told I had submitted that before, when I never had. I like your personal supportive comments.

  • sunnydays
    3 months ago

    I finally am getting relief by following the Stanton Protocol. Angela Stanton wrote a book explaining the different dietary needs of a migraine brain. It made sense to me so I tried it.
    It’s so opposite of what I was doing. I thought I was eating healthy but now I am learning how to eat a balance for my brain.

  • Joanna Bodner moderator
    3 months ago

    That is absolutely wonderful @sunnydays that following this regimen has helped! May these good results continue. Do keep us updated if you can & of course thank you for being here.

  • DinaMay
    3 months ago

    Nice article and good points – know yourself, be kind to yourself, and hang in there. My routine for some time was to hang in there until I couldn’t take it and then go to the emergency room. Going to the ER was never actually helpful and it gets mighty expensive. So I mostly don’t go anymore. It’s better to just let the big M monster have its way, go to bed, and stay put until King Kong gets up off my head. After all, I’ve certainly had plenty of experience demonstrating that pain is not fatal. Even when it seems like it’s gonna be.

  • Shoshana Lipson author
    3 months ago

    It’s so true that we tend to “hang in there” until we can’t any more and then crash… it’s hard to learn to be kind to ourselves while we’re hanging in there, and I’m so glad that you are doing that:)

  • Idahokid
    3 months ago

    Thank you for your article. Just coming out of the depression with suicidal thoughts. That is such an awful place to be. I’ve been getting migraines since I was a teenager and now I get them almost daily. I also have fibromyalgia, multiple chemical sensitivity and bipolar type 2. Imetrix is what I take for the migraines and just do herbal supplements for everything you else. My self talk is, this too shall pass. So difficult at times especially when family members don’t get it. Be kind to yourself and eat healthy food, do what feels good for you. Thanks for reminding me I’m not alone. ♡

  • Shoshana Lipson author
    3 months ago

    “This too shall pass” or any kind of self talk that helps you get through is SO important! I’m sorry that you came out of such a rough place and you are definitely not alone!

  • glassmind
    3 months ago

    Your four points are accurate.

    My emotions are all over the place with a migraine adding to the psychophysiological toll.

    Aura comes in two flavors for me: hypervigilant/euphoric or irritable/aggitated.

    Once the pain sets in then aggitation and restlessness followed by anxiety/panic or depression/numbed or worst hopeless/suicidal.

    I have various emotional states I track on a migraine app and have seen certain migraines each have a unique pattern.

    Post migraine either energetic/euphoric or exausted/numb/hungover.

    For migraines with pain of 9+, I’d generally panic after hour two (seperate from panic as a aura symptom, but rather as a response to the pain).

    “Why is medication failing?” And “Please just make the pain stop.”

    I’ve generally lost cognitive function and struggle to do anything. Locate the glass of water next to me. Identify if I am dressed or not. Which exaccerbates the panic.


    What helps me get through has simply been experience.

    I’ve had enough dibilitating migraines, that now there is a routine.

    I have a migraine action plan, which I refer to when confused (hard to read due to visual disturbances, but it’s there), I use timers to track my meds (time distortion is one heck of a symptom!), and simply talk myself down.

    I remind myself, I’ve been through this before and while serious, I’ll likely survive and have a better chance if I just rest and care for myself.

    Thank you for your article. I wish everone without migraine or with “mild” migraine would read those first four points about the toll of Migraine.

    Thanks again.

  • Shoshana Lipson author
    3 months ago

    You’re so right, sometimes just looking back at past experience is what gives us the strength to keep putting one foot in front of another. Migraine takes a huge toll sadly and I’m glad that you have an “action plan”!

  • Crystal.Harper
    3 months ago

    I’m happy to hear that your migraine action plan helps to provide a little bit of comfort although I understand that even with a plan in place, the pain is still there. Thank you so much for sharing some of your tips! We appreciate you being part of this community.

    All the best, Crystal (IBD Team Member)

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