Under Attack

Under Attack

At war

Isn’t it interesting how migraine flare-ups are referred to as “attacks?” This word, which is associated with war, violence, and aggression, is an apt term for the way migraine causes widespread destruction through unexpected, unrelenting, severe pain. After being on the receiving end of these attacks repeatedly, the corresponding result is not dissimilar to post-traumatic stress that can occur for those who’ve lived through an attack or any kind of terrifying situation.

Living in fear

Living in fear becomes a habit and means of self-protection. For many of us, fear can begin to rule our behavior even more than the attacks themselves. We find ourselves bracing for the next attack, terrified of when it will hit and how bad it will be. We may limit our daily plans and activities in desperate hopes of avoiding an attack or letting others down when we cancel plans.

We navigate a world that is alive with triggers (some avoidable, some not). And in so doing, we often find ourselves leading an isolated existence which risks a healthy level of social interaction. Additionally, our migraine specialists train us to proactively respond with treatment at the first sign of a prodrome. This is a safe, conservative protocol, but it also leaves us anxiously  questioning every little sensation, fearing it is the signal of an impending attack.

It is fully reasonable to want to try to do everything we can do protect ourselves from repeatedly experiencing an attack. However, the constant self-monitoring can create a not-so-fun, naval-gazing existence (picture: self-protective fetal position).

Quality of life?

Like ingredients of a recipe, the dynamics of living in fear and isolation, doing our best to avoid triggers, and constantly scanning the horizon for first signs of a flare up can create a disastrous recipe for quality of life.

Making peace

Ultimately, it is untenable to live under constant threat of attack. We each must find a way to make peace with the comprehensive challenge that IS migraine. Each day, it can be helpful to consciously make the choice to try to resist the urge to fold inward. We must instead unfurl, both emotionally and physically. Even in simply picturing ourselves releasing the tension we are carrying, perhaps we are taking a small step toward finding a more healthy balance between managing migraine and living our lives such that we may have a more peaceful existence.

Here are some other steps to try:

What are some strategies that you have found effective to find a better balance so that migraine isn’t all-consuming?

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

Comments

View Comments (12)
  • Jen T
    6 months ago

    Holly, thanks for this article. I have lived with fear and anxiety in relation to having migraines for many years. I have found, over the course of time, that in order to have a better life balance, sometimes you have to say no to certain things. It may not be what other people want to hear, but it’s important for us to advocate for ourselves and not be afraid to say no, and to acknowledge our limits.

  • Holly Baddour moderator author
    6 months ago

    Striving for life balance is a challenge for everyone. Add migraine into the mix and things get far more complex! You are so right that it is important and healthy for us to advocate for ourselves and acknowledge our limitations- realizing that they do not mean we are weak- it is simply our reality. Letting go of the fear of other people judging us is another part of the journey. So many lessons ripe for the learning that come with migraine!

    Here’s a piece we have about the challenges of setting limitations: https://migraine.com/blog/biting-off-more-than-you-can-chew/

    So glad you’re with us- and please stay in touch!

  • mammapeaches (Susan McManus)
    7 months ago

    Great job, Holly!! I think we end up being our own worst enemies sometimes because we wonder about what’s lurking around the next corner.

  • Holly Baddour moderator author
    6 months ago

    Hi @susanmcmanus– Great to hear from you and so glad this article was of interest to you. Yes! I agree exactly with what you said. We start living in a way that causes us to brace for the worst. I picture muscles knotted, emotional anxiety…this is not a great way to go around living our lives! But how to get to a place where our baseline is relaxed and even-keeled when we are being constantly barraged with pain? No easy answers here!
    So glad you are seeking answers with us.

  • Deneysue
    7 months ago

    I am so sorry. Dils can be so difficult sometimes, for no logical reason. It is hurtful and you really have no say. I have been frustrated many times. I have 3 dils! You are not alone. I have compassion for you.

  • Holly Baddour moderator author
    6 months ago

    @deneysue56– How wonderful of you to ring in with support for @pttennessee. This is a perfect example of the strength of our community. We are filled with so many people just teeming with compassion for one another. I’m sorry you both have experienced this kind of reality but am grateful you have connected to know that you are not alone in this. I have two boys, so I must say, you both have me a bit worried! Please stay in touch.

  • pttennessee
    7 months ago

    I just heard my dil is not comfortable with me babysitting due to the migraine attacks. That hurt my heart so much. Even if I am under attack I would make arrangements for his care! That made me feel under attack from family.

  • Holly Baddour moderator author
    6 months ago

    Hi @pttennessee
    Oh my gracious! I’m so sorry to hear about this situation. I am sure that DOES hurt your heart. I’m so glad you’re a part of our community where you can be reminded you are not alone. I’m not sure if you’ve seen the comment that came in above yours, but you are literally not alone in this case. Please stay in touch. We are thinking of you.

  • deadeyes
    7 months ago

    Thank you for sharing. When people like you share your experiences it helps me feel less alone. It let’s me know that my reaction to the pain isn’t abnormal and it gives me hope that I survive this condition. Thank you

  • Holly Baddour moderator author
    7 months ago

    I’m so glad you chimed in and that this site is helpful to you. Migraine is so very isolating by its nature that it’s important to find a way to connect and remember that we are not alone. And even though we are likely the only people we know in real life who have it this bad, there are millions of us navigating this incredibly challenging disease, day after day. I hope this article might be of some help as well: https://migraine.com/living-migraine/you-are-not-alone/

    We are here anytime to provide support, guidance and information. Please stay in touch and know we are thinking of you.

  • l1rwdn
    7 months ago

    That’s the thing. I suffer from terrible aches and tiredness much more so than headache pain. But nobody understands that, so I just say I have a migraine headache. Mine last all day, and then the next day I am usually pretty fatigued despite a good night’s sleep.

  • Holly Baddour moderator author
    7 months ago

    That is very normal to experience! In fact, the following article has a bit more information about the drag on energy that takes place before and after migraine such that many of us who have frequent migraine are often left feeling we are in a constant haze of exhaustion and low energy with flu-like symptoms. https://migraine.com/living-migraine/chronic-bodys-slow-leak/

    So glad you are a part of our community. Please stay in touch!

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