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The Virtue of Not Having Tried “Everything”

If you’ve dealt with migraine disease for a long time, you probably have said the following phrase: “Oh, I’ve tried everything.”

Receiving well-meaning advice

I myself am most tempted to say this when a well-meaning person shares with me something she heard about online. The things people recommend change over the months and years according to migraine treatment fads. (If I could get a buck for every time someone told me about the daith piercing in the last two or three years, I’d be able to buy myself a plane ticket, or at least a really nice dinner out.)

Though I feel frustrated at times having to form a response to people who recommend I try something new, I am always touched that people have been thinking of me. I truly do smile when I think of one of my customers reading something online and thinking to herself, “Oh, Janet from Avid Bookshop has migraines. I should tell her about this!” I’m very lucky in that I don’t have any particularly pushy friends, family, or acquaintances that attempt to force me to promise I’ll try whatever they’ve just told me about.

Long list of treatments tried

Though I and so many of my fellow community members feel just plain exhausted when we think of all the kazillion treatments we’ve brought into our lives in an attempt to improve our health, I must be rational and admit that I haven’t tried everything (even though I still sometimes say that). A few years ago, I listed the number of treatments (preventive and acute) I’ve tried since I was first diagnosed with migraine. This list is in sore need of an update since I’ve added more things to my regimen, at least temporarily, since I first wrote it. I feel more than a little tuckered out when I see how long that list is.

Reflecting on the upside

Recently, I’ve deliberately tried to change my point of view a little. Instead of feeling just plain exhausted and downtrodden when I think of all the things I’ve tried that didn’t work (or the things I tried that did work…and then stopped working), I’m trying to feel more hopeful.

What is she talking about?

Well, it’s a little dark, but here’s my take: if I haven’t tried everything, then there’s a chance that there’s still something out there that is going to work.

Hoping for future relief

I’m not talking about a cure—there is no cure for migraine. What I am talking about is a breakthrough treatment that would reduce both my migraine frequency and intensity, a treatment that would allow me to make plans without worrying about migraine forcing me to cancel them.

It’s important to have hope. I’m not advising that you don’t continually and proactively pursue a treatment plan that helps you get more control over your migraine episodes. I myself have changed my medications and treatments significantly in the last several months—I’m by no means giving up on trying new techniques. But, instead of feeling despair over the number of things I’ve tried that didn’t “work,” I choose to focus on the seemingly limitless options that lie ahead—including options that have yet to be invented. And this brings me a little peace when it comes to living with this often debilitating illness.

What do you think? Do you ever tell people that you’ve “tried everything”? Have you found that a change in attitude has helped you cope with your diagnosis more positively?

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.


  • eamoser
    12 months ago

    The combo of preventive meds I have been taking for quite a few years now is doing its job. The side effects though are rough. 400 mg daily of topiramate eventually caused me to decide my ability to do bookkeeping was compromised ( I kept finding errors I’d made). Fortunately we have enough income to get by without my business. Dr is concerned about organ damage long term though and wants to taper off. I also take 40 mg propanalol 2 times daily. When this was added it made a huge difference in the frequency of my attacks. I used to have about 10-15 a month with vomiting etc. now I may have 3 and the eletriptan usually works in about 30 min. Rarely do I have nausea. I am leery to alter my regimen yet do not want to damage my liver etc either. The new drugs sound promising but at what cost? I took Topamax when it cost me about $300/month. Now it’s about $30 since it went generic. It will take some doing to get me to switch.

  • MissyP
    1 year ago

    Thank you for this article. There are so many well-meaning people on our lives that truly care about us as they witness the suffering we face each day. Their intentions are honorable and I have to keep telling myself that, especially when I want to scream at the and say, “of course I’ve tried that!!” They want to fix our hurt and it’s hard to have the conversation with them telling them that they cannot fix it.

    I too have recently decided to try the glass is half-full approach, and not get sucked down into the negativity of thinking I will never be able to live my life again. I have started studying mindfulness and the power of positivity as a means of battling migraines. I have also found a local chiropractor who specializes in the orthogonal chiropractic method (Atlas Chiropractic). No, these are not a cure, but they have given me a new outlook on life, and HOPE.

    So no, we haven’t tried everything as new things are being developed each day for chronic migraineurs, and we will always have the hope for better days. Cheers everyone!

  • EvieP
    1 year ago

    There is only one thing I have to differ on: there IS a cure, we just haven’t found it yet. This always gives me hope. Every time I get one (and in between), the search continues. On reading some of the comments below, some of you have said you haven’t tried cannabis. I’ve been smoking it for about 40 years and it never helped so I figured that was a lost cause (plus the fact that most of the time when I’m having a migraine, the last thing I wanna do is smoke. Just the thought of it makes me nauseous, though if I do smoke, it puts the head monster in a cage behind me instead of in front of me, so I can function). I recently got my MMJ license and have been using the CBD oil and THC gummies and they really do help. You still have the migraine but it’s in the distance behind you. That’s the only way I can describe it. You can function, you can eat, you can even get some sleep. You just have to find the right combination and dosage (and the people at the dispensary will help you). The CBD ointment is a godsend for any kind of pain and I rub it on my neck and face to good effect. I recommend that anyone with this horrible disease give this a try because it’s a whole lot better than taking any kind of pharmaceutical. I gave up on taking any kind of pain pill years ago because they just made me feel a lot worse. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t and they ALWAYS made me so nauseous (plus there’s the rebound headache that’s so much fun) that I’d lose a dress size with every episode from epic puking. I decided to try the more natural route back then and even though the head monsters still get me for 2-3 days, I truly feel better not taking pharmaceuticals. It’s a scary thing to get off meds if you’ve been on them for a long time, but I found that they didn’t always help anyway. I, too, feel like I’ve tried everything – meds (Topamax aka Stupimax cuz it makes you stupid, Imitrex, Maxalt, etc.), herbs, self-hypnosis, Coca-Cola, EFT (emotional freedom techniques), Silva Method, diet, exercise, supplements . . . the list goes on and on, and I truly feel that CBD and THC in the form of elixir and gummies (don’t get the CBD and THC together in an elixir, at least not at first – it’s better to have them separate so you can see what combination works best for you) works better than any high priced pharmaceutical that’s gonna give you side effects that could eventually kill you (though when you’re going through these episodes, you couldn’t care less as long as it takes the pain away). It won’t stop them from coming, but it puts them on the back burner so you can at least function and maybe even have some enjoyment. I truly believe that if we can find something that helps even this much, our fear of these horrific episodes lessens because we feel we have more control as opposed to being at the mercy of this debilitating disease.

  • Cerys
    1 year ago

    I really liked this article. It’s easy to think that everything has been tried – but in reality everything means every possible thing and that’s really not feasible. There are all kinds of limits – financial or insurance-related, or maybe other health conditions don’t allow particular migraine med to be prescribed, or maybe we just “don’t know what we don’t know,” (not to mention clueless doctors) and so on. Plus what constitutes “everything” can change – either because new things are developed or barriers to access are lifted… I think this mindset has helped me. I avoid using the word hope – its just been a longterm letdown – but thinking this way, I’m less inclined to try to convince anyone that I’ve tried-it-all. (Which saves energy, lol).

    Fwiw, it’s not the tried “everything” that gets me, it’s fielding over and over and over the “did you try this thing” … So tiring. And at some point, people (including doctors) get irritated and sometimes place blame, as if I didn’t try hard enough or long enough or don’t want to feel better. THAT drives me batty :0

  • Timothy Bauer
    1 year ago


    Nice comments.

  • rhobee
    1 year ago

    I know the frustration of trying different meds for migraine, I currently take Propranolol 10 mg. twice a day + Butterbur 75 mg. once a day. This combination has reduced the frequency and duration of my migraines.
    Over the years I have tried many other “preventives” with little success.

  • Timothy Bauer
    1 year ago


    You may have tried all of the below. But maybe one might
    be new to you.

    1. Acupuncture
    2. Botox
    3. Massage
    4. Self Hypnosis
    5 Neurofeedback
    6. Deep Breathing Exercises
    7. Celiac Tested for
    8. Dental Bite Guard
    9. Food Allergy Test
    10. Relaxation CDs
    11. Naturopath Doc
    12. Topical Magnesium-like Derma Mag
    13. Deep Steam Breathing
    14. Oxygen-by prescription
    15. Hydrotherapy

    Timothy Jude Bauer
    Reno, Nevada

  • Joleen1966
    1 year ago

    I do feel like I’ve tried everything. I have not tried cannabis yet. It was brought up to me by my PCP. I have been asked if I’d like to go back to a neurologist. I was given botox but that didn’t work. She was a very nice doc and had no further options for me but that was about 3 years ago. My PCP has been great! I am on amitryptline, propanolol, Effexor and many vitamins. Vicoden is my only saving grace so I can work.

    Have any of you tried cannabis? What kind of effects did it have?


  • Timothy Bauer
    1 year ago

    To Joleen1966:

    I live in Nevada-where marijuana is legal. Have not
    tried this for my migraines. But the article below might
    answer some of your questions.

  • Tamara
    1 year ago

    And sometimes your doctor needs to remember this …..

    I just got from an appointment with my “headache specialist” and his exact words “I’m a lost of what To with you”. This is the only headache clinic in the province (think there might only be 2in Canada, not sure). Thus I have no option to find another doctor without going To the states and paying out of pocket – which when you aren’t able to work is impossible.

    This website has taught me that there are always other options … so even though we have had no success with 13 meds, cannabis, Botox and multiple other treatments there is still hope. At least I have a good family doctor that listens to what I research and will let me try.

    I am getting better at the acceptance and just working with what I have now until there is something else to try. Finally! (Took 4 different meds and multiple different dosages) got my depression under control and it has made a HUGE difference. I’m not constantly fighting the self talk and bad thoughts popping up, making it a lot easier to handle the physical pain and limitations. Definitely recommend meds (are taking moderate dose amptriplyine – unfortunately doesn’t help the headaches and a second med to control it for me) and psychologist talks.

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