Medication Abstinence

To take or not take?

That is the question regarding medication I and so many others with Migraine consider when experiencing an attack (whether acute or chronic).

Why would anyone choose to abstain from medication that does actually help?

A limited number of doses? Sure. Side effects? Of course. But also something more difficult to define.

A sense of Self Beyond Migraine and Medications.

I woke the other day with a migraine--extremely rare for me. I chose to abstain from pharmacological interventions.

I used all other tools in my therapy kit: water, salt, food, tea, cherry juice, rest, light exercise, temperature control, hot showers, light-filtering glasses, meditation, .....

And the pain persisted. The sensitivity to life persisted. Every step I took seemed to send my brain beating against the inside of my skull. Every breath brought pain-increasing scents to my nostrils. Every sound exacerbated my pain. Bending over sent searing pain coursing through my head.

Still, I refused medication.

All the medications I have cause me to sleep. I wanted to be awake--to live through the day rather than lose it to migraine only to feel well and be wide awake at 9pm. Throwing off my sleep cycle will only trigger another migraine, make chronic joint pain more difficult to manage, and worsen mental health.

I keep hoping the migraine would pass--that something other than medication would resolve the episode (despite a complete lack of prior success in this approach).

I wanted to avoid the cognitive and mood negative immediate and long term side effects of medication.

Most oddly, I wanted to just experience the migraine. Why?

To calibrate my own experience. To know what pain I can tolerate. To be this one version of me. ( One version is free of migraine, another is under the influence of medications, and one is under the influence of migraine.)

When my spouse returned from work to find me still experiencing a migraine, I was asked if I had taken medication. When I replied that I had chosen to experience this particular migraine without pharmaceutical intervention, my choice was met with support and understanding. For that I am grateful.

As hard as it can be for those who have never experienced migraine to understand the experience, it can be even more difficult to understand why one would abstain from medication therapy.

In the midst of the pain, it was therapeutic to be respected in my choice and met with compassion.

We had dinner in near silence under dim lighting. We exchanged gifts with quiet joy. We went to sleep in the shadow of migraine.


I woke the next day feeling well.

I expect some to question my choice. Yet, it is my choice, and I am glad to have made it.

I empowered myself. I proved to myself that some migraines, despite excruciating pain, can be survived. I reduced the negative impact of medications on my body. I gained data on my own experience with Migraine. I learned as I suffered. I felt more "me" than when I take medications.

I'll certainly take prescription rescue medications for migraine again. Especially, if extreme nausea is present or if vomiting.

But sometimes, just sometimes, personally, I just have to take a break from the pills and just feel terrible. To just experience the pain for some intangible exstisential esoteric reason. It may be illogical and I may fail to explain my choice in a way all can understand, but maybe someone else out there does understand.

Thanks for reading.

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