How It All Started
I was being woken up by my sister to get in the bath and get ready to school. "Please just leave me to sleep," I said as she kept tapping me. I got up after a few minutes and had my bath when I felt sharp pain in my head. It was unusual, but I thought it was just a headache that would go away.
The headache pain continued
Days passed and the headache was seriously worse with stomach pain. I told my parents, "I can't take the pain anymore," so I was taken to do tests at the hospital. The test came out positive for malaria and typhoid, so we went to the pharmacy to take the required drugs. A month later, the headache and stomach pain came back and I was tested again. It came back positive for malaria and typhoid again, so the doctors told my parents maybe it was the source of water and the place I slept that made the sickness keep coming back. So, they changed from satchel water to a water dispenser and sleeping under a mosquito net.
It didn't stop there. The pain came back for almost three months back to back till the stomach pains stopped completely. But the headache worsened to the point that I would cry from morning till night and wouldn't sleep throughout because of the pain. My parents were seriously worried so they started taking me to the hospital in the neurology clinic. When I would go there I would be scared and heartbroken to see sick children that had mental disorders and other illnesses. I would put my head on my mother's lap when waiting for the doctor. When we got to see the doctors, some of them would be very confused to hear that I was having headaches every single day. Some suggested it was just puberty pains, it would go after a few years, some even said maybe it was a symptom of hypertension or something else.
Nothing would relieve my headaches
I was very scared hearing all these guesses from the doctors. When they prescribed drugs, they would never work and I have hated drugs since then. The headache was a part of me. When I would go to school, they had to call my parents to pick me up because the pain was unbearable. A lot of times my teacher would try to calm me down, but it wouldn't work.
Navigating school with migraine pain
I stayed at home for almost a year without going to school and just laid down on the bed for hours, only standing up a few times just to get something. At that point, I felt almost useless and disabled because I couldn't do a lot of things. Some months passed and it was time for the common entrance exam to get into secondary school.
When I went back to school with the pain, I took the exam and I passed with a B. The pain was still very much there and I would go to the hospital countless of times to find a cure to the pain.
I got into secondary school. I was excited because I always wanted to know what it felt like and knowing I was a little bit closer to finishing my education. The pain was a little bit bearable even though I still had times that I would have to leave school.
One day, it was break time in school when one of my classmates called me to play with our mates. I refused to play with them and one said, "is it because of that small pain that you are just sitting there?". I won't lie, it was hurtful to hear a friend say that but I got used to hearing things like that. The pain worsened again and I started going to the clinic again. It was useless again because I heard the same thing over and over again. Ever since then, I didn't tell anyone personally that I had daily migraine because they didn't believe me, like one time in church when a boy from school was telling his friends that I cry every day in school. I felt like sinking into the ground.
Growing up with migraine
Three years passed, everything is still the same. I started my period and the headache didn't get better but worse, especially when I am on it. The sun also started making the headache worse. If it was a sunny day and I didn't wear a hat or scarf covering my head, I would almost faint or have red eyes. I would never forget the day I went to the market with my mother and as she was pricing something, I started seeing stars and losing my balance. As we were walking, I lost my sight. I only saw white. I started shouting, "I can't see". I was very scared. My mom held me and took me to a place to sit and I laid my head on her lap. An old woman who saw what happened approached us and prayed. My mother and I thanked her. After a few minute, I began to see. That was one the days I will never forget.
My migraine and mental health
The pain had caused so many things. I almost got depressed. I was tired of the pain and waiting for when it was going to end. I was tired of living my life as if everything was normal, and I felt no one understood that. When I would have episodes or attacks, I would begin to cry. I will never forget when my mom said, "our neighbors will hear you and think something bad was happening" and just that alone made me feel worse.
All the pain, tears, agony. There were days I would be crying on the floor and no one would come and check on me. I thought I would run mad at times. My mom would just stare at me while I was crying, most of the time without saying anything or walk out. My dad would pretend like he couldn't hear me. It made me feel worse. Sometimes I thought it would result into something else. Sometimes I felt like screaming till I feel better or had someone to confide in. I searched online many times for daily headaches and saw three women who were just like me but they had theirs for years and counting. I didn't want that for myself.
I would wonder what I did to deserve it. There were times I would cry till I slept or go to my room and cry till my eyes were sore and no one would notice. Many times, I would ask God why. Why is this happening to me? I felt depressed a lot of times and because of the headache. I wasn't doing well in some subjects. In school sometimes, I would put my head on the desk because I couldn't take it anymore.
Seeking migraine relief
I tried herbal and medical drugs, supplements, exercises, specific food. Nothing worked. I felt and I still feel like I am treated like I don't have pain in my brain, like there isn't pain 24/7. I have done CT scans and EEG tests and the tests didn't see anything wrong. I would never wish this on my worst enemy. One of the worst things I have heard was from a doctor. He said, "what if the pain is in your mind?", I felt that. When my mom says it will pass, I always say in my mind, "when, when will it pass?".
"Just bear it," they said. Put yourself in my shoes, oh, but you can't. It has been 5 years of pain and suffering. If someone had told me before that I would go through this, I would almost slap the person. It has been a disability because I can't play sports or do an activity for too long. I still have sleepless nights. It's getting worse by the day. I hope it goes away and never comes back. But I have learnt to be strong even though it feels like hell on the inside. I have had dreams of talking about the journey on talk shows, the news, all over the world too.
Managing growing up with migraine
Some days, I look at the mirror and tell myself I have tried. One day, it will all be in the past, and in the future, I hope to reach out to many other girls who go through it, share my experiences, and help them both physically and emotionally. I want to create awareness because not many people know about it or recognize that it is a serious issue.
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