Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer
We Get Knocked Down But We Get Up Again

We Get Knocked Down But We Get Up Again

Like a car screeching to a stop, or a light switched off.  Like a helium balloon floating away. Who am I?  Where did I go?

How is it possible?  Just three days ago I was sitting with my best friend in a noisy, crowded restaurant for our Friday breakfast. Our gathering is always a highlight of my week. I met her there after taking my son to school.  Following our visit, I took a four-mile walk. When I got home, I did several loads of laundry, cleaned our home, did some writing and prepped dinner before picking my son up from school.

Sucker punch

But since that day, I’ve lost my place completely. In just three days, I can barely relate to the person I just described. Since then, I haven’t showered once but have vomited more times than I can count. The pain of this migraine has been severe and relentless. My body is stiff and sore from being bedridden and from repeated dry heaves between vomiting. I haven’t spoken to anyone outside of my immediate family. I feel scooped out from the inside and raw. My hair is matted to my scalp.

The knock out

It’s stunning how quickly a migraine can rob us of momentum, joy, and sense of self. It feels like the breath is being punched out of the body. Indeed, much like a professional boxer at the top of his game when he enters the ring, we migraineurs are accustomed to being nearly knocked out. We aren’t new to the situation, so we can take a hit and keep fighting. We may literally or figuratively fall, but we know that although the pain is terrifying, it will not kill us.  We know from experience that the moment, however painful, will eventually end. It is something to be managed – to get through.

Getting back up

Thankfully, we all possess a seemingly endless source of resilience. Even when we feel we’ve hit rock bottom and are running on empty, and regardless of the number of attacks we endure, we persevere. Eventually, our well of reserves refills and we are replenished. Time and time again, we gather ourselves up and resume our lives.

Sometimes, however, it can take a while to get our bearings. The wallop of a migraine is dizzying, after all.  Its postdrome after-effects can be utterly comprehensive.  Although we can lose our place almost instantaneously, the process of regaining our footing often takes some time.

How do we make sense of this seemingly endless and maddening cycle of standing up and re-entering the ring, just to get hit and fall down again? There are no easy answers here. But as someone on the journey with you, I encourage us all to focus on those moments we can feel our energy stirring once again within us. Those little moments reveal and affirm our inner strength.

Never going to keep me down

Making note of the fact that strength is returning can do worlds to lift us up emotionally, psychologically and physically. So, try to be conscious of that moment you begin to sense you are in need and capable of showering. Be awake to the moment when you feel moved to open the curtain to look outside for the first time in days. Take stock of the wondrous transition when the migraine storm passes and you know it’s safe to move. Those moments are signs of your inner strength and resilience.

So, even when you are in the midst of a three-day migraine without a shower, feeling smelly, and like a shell of your former self, don’t forget where you might be in another few days. You might just find yourself, once again, in a noisy restaurant, having breakfast with your best friend.

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

  • JaylaWeaver
    2 years ago

    Hi Ms.Baddour! I’ve been having migraines for a decade now and I’m only 16 years old. So that’s since I was in the first grade. It’s hard to explain to my family about how having chronic migraines really keep me from doing the things I enjoy. I love to dance and aspire to be a dance instructor and choreographer when I get older but it’s so hard to focus on achieving that dream with migraines. I get them almost everyday. On a good week for me is when I get them 3-4 days out the week. I’ve tried everything I could think of to minimize to the pain these cause but it never works out. It’s nice to at least know that someone really gets how it feels. Thank oh so much.

  • Holly Harding Baddour moderator author
    2 years ago

    @jaylaweaver – I’m so glad you wrote! We have a lot in common. I started getting migraines when I was in first grade as well. I majored in dance in college and taught dance and enjoyed choreography as well. I found it a challenge working under stage lights and keeping late hours during night rehearsals. That said, I kept at it for several years until I discovered a different passion (nonprofit service work) that took me in a different direction. Migraine definitely can make achieving dreams more of a challenge, and sometimes it means reconfiguring our dreams slightly in order to get there- but along the way, there are other lessons we learn. Beautiful, eye-opening lessons regarding compassion and gratitude that we earn. We feel for others who are struggling and appreciate wellness in a way few others do. The way migraine forces us to slow down can also help us see the world differently. Perhaps think of using these things to inform the way you approach your art. I remember choreographing a slow-motion dance. My point is, you are not alone, Jayla. Even though you are the only one in your family who has chronic migraine, you are not the only one in the world. You are part of a unique community of people who understand and, through this site, want to support you. I’m so glad you reached out. Please stay in touch. Warmly, Holly B. (migraine.com team).

  • JaylaWeaver
    2 years ago

    That’s very touching Ms.Baddour, awe makes me feel all fuzzy inside lol. But I’m glad I have others who can understand me, and so well at that. And what coincidences we share! I shall indeed stay in touch, I’m really so grateful to have found this website and that I am able to talk to amazing people quite like yourself. Thank you again!

  • SandiO
    2 years ago

    Very well written and gives such a clear visual!
    I can tell from your photo you are much younger than I, so I may not have as much stamina to take on anymore all you accomplished prior to your migraine, but I still have the resilience to get back on path again! I have fought these foes for 62 years now and if I learned anything, the most important was as you say, “it will not kill us”!

    Though this affliction is pain in so many ways, you gave me reason to smile.
    Thank you.

  • Holly Harding Baddour moderator author
    2 years ago

    @sandio– thanks so much for your kind words. I’m not all that much younger than you, yet, regardless of our age, there are ways that migraine can make us feel we are decades older than we are- https://migraine.com/living-migraine/when-migraines-age-us/ . Thank you so much for your comment. Warmly, Holly B. (migraine.com team).

  • Holly H.
    2 years ago

    Holly, we are most fortunate that you do get up again and make it real — because you do a great job of taking the invisible and giving it visibility with your word pictures!!

    I actually had a few days where the volume dial was turned down a bit, so I dared to live some little quiet moments shopping and eating with friends. So, I’m getting ready to go downstairs this evening, and what felt like a severe blow to the head “brain cramp” literally staggered me. After a bit, my legs went out from under me. Then I laid on the floor too weak to get up for a while. I am not at the ER because it has happened before, so I am in the wait-and-see mode. Literally, I got knocked down, then got up again to stagger to the recliner — then a couple of hours later, there’s your article.

    BTW… The primary doctor I had a year ago moved out of town, but, bless his heart, he went to bat for me with the insurance company to get some strong anti-nausea medicine to take before bed because I can vomit in my sleep with the aura being so bad, and 3 times almost didn’t get back to breathing. Holly, perhaps with your severe nausea, this might be a consideration for you?

  • Holly Harding Baddour moderator author
    2 years ago

    @hh45612 Hello fellow Holly H.! I’m sorry to hear you were literally knocked down tonight but glad to hear you made your way to the computer to find an article that resonated with where you are. It helps tremendously to remember that we’re not alone in this. And I mean this for me, too. So I appreciate you sharing your story. Love the term “brain cramp” – how absolutely apt! I’ll have to use that in the future. It’s like a head charlie horse!

    Glad you got out to enjoy the world a little so that you can let those experience nourish you if you end up being down for the count for a bit. After all, if we wait to live for the pain to clear completely, we might be left waiting forever: https://migraine.com/living-migraine/waiting-to-live/

    I actually do have some pretty strong anti nausea meds (phenergan) that knock me out (speaking of). This can be great for ridding me of the nausea, but not so much for allowing me to function. I’ve not been successful in finding anything that works to ward off the nausea without making me unconscious. Hard when I’m nauseated so much of the time. I’ve got many ginger-related home remedies that are my go-tos- but they certainly aren’t as effective as I’d like. Sleeping through vomiting to the point that you can’t breathe sounds absolutely terrifying! I’m glad you’ve found something that works for you.

    Since your primary doctor left, have you been able to find a migraine specialist to provide you with support and care? They can be hard to come by, because there aren’t enough of them out there – but they really are the best trained to help oversee the complex condition that is migraine. There are several online search engines that can help you see if there is one in your vicinity.

    Thanks again for sharing. Good to connect with you. Warmly, Holly B. (migraine.com team).

  • Holly Harding Baddour moderator author
    2 years ago

    Holly H- Here’s an article that houses a search engine to help finding migraine specialists in case you’re interested:https://migraine.com/blog/looking-for-a-migraine-specialist/ . Warmly, Holly B. (migraine.com team).

  • EvieP
    2 years ago

    I’m so glad I found this site. Every one of these entries makes me wanna cry because they’re all so true. I feel like we are all misfits on this planet, in this life, because no one but another poor human who suffers as we do can understand this up and down, safe/unsafe, fearful/fearless existence we all share. Thank you all.

  • Joanna Bodner moderator
    2 years ago

    @EvieP, We are sure so happy that you found our site! I hope it continues to provide you with the support and resources you need! Know we are always here to lend an ear! Thank you for being here! 🙂 -Joanna (Migraine.com Team)

  • lizlasvegas702
    2 years ago

    My dearest Holly,

    Your article was well written and said exactly how I felt all day yesterday until this morning when I awoke not knowing if it went away or not. I finally took a sleeping pill at 1:30am out of desperation not to fell the agonizing pain that was relentless. Even after 40 years, I can’t help to be punched so hard by a severe migraine attack when meds or injections don’t provide any relief whatsoever. Thank goodness we have such a positive disposition and those happy memorable days is what gets us through our worst days.

    I do have to admit that lately it’s been a huge challenge for me dealing with so much pain. It’s like a Domino effect. I recently have gone through 7 back surgeries in the last 4 months, get Hemiplegic migraines almost every day (Its like stroke like symptoms on my entire right side) along with severe migraine headaches and a cold the last 4 days to add to my misery. I’m thankful for a very supportive and understanding husband who is there for me. I’m not giving up that one day there’ll be a cure for me, and I like you, will persevere through these conditions and take it one day at a time. I’m grateful and blessed that I have so much love and compassion from family and friends. I truly don’t think I could have managed on my own. My biggest fear right now Holly is going back to a stressful and toxic work environment in 3 weeks after being off for the past 5 months. I’m not confident this time around that I will be able to work anymore or to the ability I’m accustomed to. My Hemiplegic episodes are disabling and can last all day and getting worse with time. It’s been 3 years for me and it’s suppose to be a life long disease. I’ve learned to live with migraines but both together is starting to feel impossible with the kind of lifestyle I’m use to having. I just pray and hope for a miracle that one day, and not for only me but anyone who has an illness, will see a cure or solution to their disease, illness and pain one day soon!!!

    I want to wish you and your family a Happy Holiday Season with prosperity and health for a wonderful New Year!!!

  • Holly Harding Baddour moderator author
    2 years ago

    @lizlasvegas702 – Thank you for sharing. You have been through so much! No wonder you are feeling trepidation about returning to work. I assume you’ve considered disability? Given the way the Hemiplegic migraines disable you, it sounds like it might be worth at least looking into. That path is certainly not an easy one, but for many of us, it’s the only option we have.

    Despite it all, you have a tremendously positive attitude and warm spirit that shines through your words. Gratitude can be hard to come by when battling chronic and severe pain- but you clearly have it in spades. Thanks again for sharing your story. Happy Holidays to you as well! Warmly, Holly B. (migraine.com team).

  • HTR
    2 years ago

    Thanks for the article – well written & something to which I used to relate. I’ve had chronic (daily) intractable migraine since 2013. So, your description of the last 3 days, not resembling the person you were before… substitute “4 yrs” and that’s me. I long for the day when “this too shall pass,” and your great article helps me focus on that potential (rather than focusing on the past 4yrs). Happy Holidays!

  • Holly Harding Baddour moderator author
    2 years ago

    Hi @htr – 4 years is a long slog to be experiencing an intractable migraine. It can be very hard to maintain hope while in the midst of that kind of severe pain. It’s key to find ways to replenish your spirit and find others with whom you can relate to remember you are not alone. I’m so glad you are here- and are a part of our community so that you can see that you are an important part of a huge land of migraineurs – all of us responding to pain, figuring our way through each day- waking up and trying to navigate and manage our lives. We are with you and you are with us. Warmly, Holly B. (migraine.com team).

  • bethk
    2 years ago

    Thank you so much Holly.
    I just found this site yesterday, while researching magnesium taurate for migraines.
    I’ve been slugging through it for three days now in varying stages of pain and symptoms coming , taking sinus pills, excedrin, goody powders, Advil, Relpax, ginger capsules, magnesium, riboflavin, feverfew, flax seed oil. And it came back again tonight.
    It is so comforting to read someone else’s description, although I’m sorry for anyone else to suffer, I feel validated that I’m not just whining about migraines. Now have tears too.
    Well, thank you and I wish you all freedom from migraines.
    Beth

  • Holly Harding Baddour moderator author
    2 years ago

    Hi Beth! I’m so glad this article resonated for you. I”m sorry you’ve been having a hard run of it lately with your pain- sounds like you’ve been trying lots of treatments. So hard when the pain comes back again after you’ve been able to quiet it. You are NOT whining! The pain related to migraine is severe and sometimes paralyzing and terrifying. I’m so glad you are a part of our community. You are not alone! Please stay in touch! Warmly, Holly B. (migraine.com team).

  • Glynne
    3 years ago

    Dear Hollybee, Your article brought tears to my eyes – knowing other people feel like I do. I too have good days and I think wonderful I’m ok now and then wham I’m dizzy and sick and back in bed. At 82 I fortunately don’t have to worry about looking after my children, but lie there trying to be positive (I live alone in a retirement block so I know there are other people about but I try not to call them) and think “whats not to like I have a comfy bed, a commode on one side of me and teasmaid on the other if I get well enough for a cup of tea (usually makes me sick in the first few hours) and all I have to do is lie here and wait for it to pass ( usually 24 hours) then of course there is the couple of days readjusting, but like you say after that its back to normal and feeling good (till the next time!!) Thank you Hollybee, keep positive – I’ll be thinking of you when my next episode knocks me out.

  • Holly Harding Baddour moderator author
    3 years ago

    Dear Glynne- Your comment meant so much to me to receive. You paint such a vibrant picture of your surroundings that I feel I can picture your world. Although you are a few years my senior, I can so easily relate to your life and imagine myself in your shoes in my not too distant future. This is a long haul, this migraine life, which asks- (demands, is the more apt term) so very much of us on a daily basis. I am amazed by your positive outlook and how you have set up your life to strive for self-sufficiency and self-care even in the face of frequent and severe pain. You clearly are an incredibly strong woman and I’m glad we have connected. It is so important to remember that we are not alone in this. I will likewise be thinking of you next time I’m knocked out. With much warmth and respect, Holly Baddour (migraine.com team)

  • Janet
    3 years ago

    Excellent article… When I have enough energy to do several things in one day.. NOTHING like your full day, I live in fight because I know what’s coming… It’s the great if I even feel a little ok it isn’t going to last.. Rough way to live.. But I have learned to pace myself.. I’m the only one that suffers if I don’t. Sometimes a shower and washing my hair and just maybe one load of laundry is my day.. And that’s not even getting dressed..I know I’m not going anywhere…

  • Holly Harding Baddour moderator author
    3 years ago

    janet- thank you so much for sharing. we sound like two birds of a feather. you are so right that pacing is key. i preach about it all the time but it is my downfall. it’s so hard to pace when you have a good window because you want to embrace it and fit in as much as you can. but doing so always backfires. we never know how long our wellness window will last and overdoing almost always shortens that window. today my productivity consisted precisely of a shower, a load of laundry, and i even vacuumed that’s going to be it. oh, and writing to you! reading your words lifted my spirits by the way, it does help to remember that we’re not alone. warmly- holly baddour (migraine.com moderator)

  • Lisa A
    3 years ago

    Oh this rings so true!! Love the honesty and humor as well! M is like a force that completely knocks one out no matter how hard one tries to get up. It is like being in a boxing ring. Ugh!! I had to giggle about your grandiose day of getting so much done and living life to the fullest in that when I experience those types of days, I call them my “mania” days and then I know to look out because inevitably a big M is lurking around the next corner. My full of energy and extreme happpiness seems to be followed by the big drop. It is terrible! I am sorry to hear how you suffer. It is reassuring to know we are all in this life together and connected. That is encouraging. And the getting up part is the best feeling in the world… thanks for sharing!

  • Holly Harding Baddour moderator author
    3 years ago

    hi Lisa A! thanks so much for reaching out. it is great to hear from you and remember that we are not alone. i had to laugh when you said you said you named your productive days “mania days”. I recently wrote an article called mania and migraines on this very topic! https://migraine.com/living-migraine/mania-migraines/ Perhaps it will resonate with you. I’m glad we are connected, even tho it is over something so challenging. Warmly, Holly Baddour (migraine.com moderator)

  • aks868
    3 years ago

    Thank you so much for reminding me that I am not alone in this. It is often so hard to keep getting back up after so many knock-out punches. I don’t know about any of you, but I feel like my resiliency goes in waves. If I get a few good days in, I am able to bounce back, but, if the non-knock-out days are just mediocre, everything seems to drag and I feel like I am stagnating. Sometimes I just force myself to to do things to prove that I can and it helps. Then other times, I force myself to do things and it rebounds into another full-blown migraine. There is really no rhyme or reason. Thank you again.

  • Holly Harding Baddour moderator author
    3 years ago

    Aks2868 thank you for writing and for your honesty. I really appreciate and relate with what you said about sometimes feeling that the well of resiliency has been tapped out. Migraines are so exhausting there is no quick bouncing back. It’s more like peeling oneself off from the pavement. I have felt that same sensation of forcing myself to do things until the energy comes flowing back in. This is hard stuff to be sure, and is why it’s so important to have a good network of support (in real life) and here on migraine.com to remind us that we’re not alone. You are not alone!! With you, Holly Baddour (migraine.com moderator)

  • ejcc
    3 years ago

    So true. Hell when we r in it. Then we r reborn again. Loss of speech and all control of my hands bad shakes dizzy nausea but it’s ok my head has finally stopped hurting. Then I find peace for. Not before it all starts again. Wish we could share your article to all that think we make this stuff up.

  • Holly Harding Baddour moderator author
    3 years ago

    Ejc- thanks so much for sharing. You are so right, the cycle is maddening. Please feel free to share this article with others in your network to help them understand when you are up against. I frequently forward articles from migraine.com to my friends and family in hopes of enlightening them as to my reality. Do they actually read them? Who knows. But I try. So few people understand the reality of migraine. In the meantime, please remember that you are not alone. Warmly, Holly baddour (migraine.com moderator)

  • Janet
    3 years ago

    I concur..I have that same wish…

  • CynRosie
    3 years ago

    Once again, thank you Hollybee for reminding me (us) that we’re not alone in this. I am just coming out of a 4 day “stretch” (sounds like prison…maybe because it is). You are so right…we are survivors. We somehow manage to pick ourselves up again and keep going until the next round. I just wish that others would/could understand what we go through, especially employers. Mine just doesn’t seem to care, which just adds to the stress.

  • Holly Harding Baddour moderator author
    3 years ago

    CynRosie- thank you so much for your kind words. I’m so glad this article resonated with you. I’m so sorry you’ve been having an especialy rough time of it lately. It’s good to remember how incredible strong you are to keep standing up time and time again after being pummeled by this kind of severe pain. I hate hearing that your employer is not giving you the understanding and flexibility that you deserve. The invisibility of migraines does not help us prove our case when it comes to educating others about the severity of the condition. It is so true that you are not alone! With you, a thousand times over- Holly Baddour (migraine.com moderator)

  • Tamara
    3 years ago

    Unless you are like me and don’t remember the last time you got a break between migraines. I’m on day 6 of a horrible one and fading badly. I get bad back to back flares or just bad symptoms and severe fatigue in between it sucks.

  • Janet
    3 years ago

    Tamara, yesterday I finally came out of an 8 day migraine.. My longest yet.. And that’s 40 years 🙁

    I actually started to feel somewhat ‘normal’.. But my normal and the true definition are so different.

    My heart goes out to you.

  • DonnaFA moderator
    3 years ago

    Hi Tamara, I’m so sorry to hear that you are suffering. I’m sending all good wishes that relief comes your way. -Please know we’re always here to share support or just a friendly ear. -All Best, Donna (Migraine.com team)

  • Poll