25 and counting…
I have been suffering for migraines for as long as I can remember. I am unsure of the exact beginning date, but I know I’ve been getting them since I was as young as second grade. I suffered for years, through grammar, middle, high school. I was finally allowed to be prescribed an abortive medication when I turned 18 because they were no longer narcotic based, and I switched to a primary care physician that also suffered from migraines, so she understood what I was going through. Eventually, each of the abortives I tried stopped working. That, and I couldn’t handle some of the side effects.
The most frustrating part about this disorder is not knowing when it’s going to happen. I am afraid to make big plans because I’ll have to cancel if I get a migraine attack. Then I’ll have to try and explain it’s because I have a migraine. And hope that whoever is involved will understand. But then it may keep happening, and I’ve already had damage to my friendships because of people that just don’t understand I’m not making this up. I can’t just take an OTC and be done with it. That’s not how this works. I know it’s not my fault, but I can’t help but think it’s my fault when my friends don’t understand that I can’t control this, even though I am trying.
“Why don’t you just take an OTC?” OTCs have never worked for me. I’m not exaggerating. I literally have never found an OTC that has taken away any of my migraine pain. “It can’t be that bad.” Really? Would you like to feel like a hot iron was poking your eye every second? Or like an icepick was just chiseling away at your temple or left side of your forehead? Maybe you would like to start feeling a slight pain in your head one day, and then feel like you were going to pass out, throw up, and die of thirst, no matter how much water you drink, all at the same time. “You’ll grow out of it as you get older.” I’m in my mid-20s. I think I’m growing into it more than I’m growing out of it. And that isn’t really comforting when I’m losing days out of every month when I’m only in my mid-20s.
I’m now in graduate school, and I get nervous everytime I have to take a final because if I get a migraine attack, I know my grade is going to suffer. I have to miss class because of migraines. I’m afraid to work at internships because I don’t want to have to call out because of a migraine. Not many people understand that this isn’t a simple fix, and I don’t want to be seen as unreliable. It doesn’t help that I’m a perfectionist and sometimes I know I could do better – if I didn’t have this problem.
I am not trying to throw a pity party. I have days where I can function. I am intelligent; I have done well for myself so far; I know there are people worse off than I am. But it’s hard to remember that when I am stuck in bed all day popping pain medication that I don’t even want to be taking because I’m afraid of the future consequences.
I’ve tried two preventatives. One made my migraines worse. The other I had to be convinced to try because it was an anti-depressant, and due to my history of depression, I was afraid it would screw with my brain chemistry and cause me to develop depression again. It worked for 6 months, and now I feel like I’m starting to go backwards. I’ve been placed on a opioid pain medication because that is truly the only abortive that works for me. I’m forced to pick and choose when to take it because I’m aware of the risks of taking it too often. I track my migraines so I can figure out triggers, but I’m afraid two of my biggest triggers are ones I will never be able to control (barometric pressure changes and hot weather). I just want to be “normal” – whatever that means, and these thoughts of self-loathing due to my migraines only come when I am suffering from a migraine. When they’re not there, it’s like they don’t exist, but when they come, I feel like I’m in hell.
I wish there was more research and emphasis out there for this disorder. While there are ideas, they aren’t concrete – and they are so different and varied that nothing is for certain when it comes to anyone. It’s a guessing game, and I hate wondering if I, or my doctors, will ever find the right answer.