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Terrified.

I am terrified.

I am terrified that tomorrow I will succumb to the final Friday migraine of the school year. Let’s assume there are 40 school weeks each year. That means I got 40 Friday migraines this year. That makes 320 Friday migraines in my eight years as an educator. That’s about an entire year’s-worth of migraines. Factor in the migraine hangover Saturday, and that’s two years.

I am terrified that tomorrow I will slip into my invisible illness again and no one will really know. If I am distant, it’s because I’m self-centered. If I am cognitively disabled, it’s because I’m not really that smart. If I am irritable, it’s because I have a temper. If I forget my students’ names, it’s because I don’t care about them. NONE of these things are true. They are my migraine.

I am terrified that tomorrow I will draw the conclusion that teaching isn’t worth it. That these students, this school, and my lifelong passion isn’t worth the guaranteed migraines. That I am destined to do something else. I AM NOT destined to do something else, but the migraine cloud is powerful.

I am terrified that tomorrow I will lose the spark of hope that keeps me going. As always, I have a plan to conquer the Friday migraine. My excel document tracks my data, my OneNote journal tracks my research, and things are looking up. And my mind has been having daydreams all week of how fuller life could be without the migraine. But I am 0 for 320.

I am terrified. Nothing prepared me for this challenge. There was no class in school for this. The paradigm for adulthood doesn’t have a chronic illness stage. But nothing has prepared me more for life either. I am more diligent, strategic, open-minded, curious, and voracious because of this. And so my fear becomes something that I’ll manage, something that will motivate me further. This isn’t the adventure I signed up for. But it’s taken me to unexpected places. And so ultimately, tomorrow, will be just fine.

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

  • Lisa Robin Benson moderator
    4 years ago

    Hi Mr Grain,
    Thank you for sharing such a beautiful piece of writing I’m glad to hear you got good support on Facebook too. That is so encouraging to hear.

    I, too, can get the letdown migraines. Though they’re not like clockwork like yours are.

    Let’s troubleshoot the problem a little.

    How are Friday’s different than the rest of the school week? Is your schedule, the room you teach in, etc the same? Is your stress level different? Good different? What time do the start?

    Do you get migraines on any other day?

    Have you found/tried any preventive treatments for your migraine, either medicine or things like biofeedback? Anything help treat an attack that is already started?

    Be well,
    Lisa

  • Mr. Grain author
    4 years ago

    Lisa, thank you for posting the articles. I’m going to add “2-hour nap” and “keeping the stress up” to my migraine toolkit. We’ll see how they work. I really do appreciate your empathy. I didn’t expect my article to result in someone thinking this through with me.

  • Lisa Robin Benson moderator
    4 years ago

    Sure thing, here are the links I promised:
    http://migraine.com/blog/let-down-migraines/
    http://migraine.com/blog/stress-trigger/
    http://migraine.com/blog/migraine-perspective-no-two-migraineurs-are-alike/
    Hope all this helps give you some more ideas of what to try, or things to bring up to your doctor. Definitely let us know how you are doing and if anything helps!
    -Lisa

  • Mr. Grain author
    4 years ago

    Thanks, Lisa. I appreciate your thoughtfulness, and am looking forward to reading those articles. Strategically adding stress is a third option I hadn’t considered!

  • Lisa Robin Benson moderator
    4 years ago

    Hi Mr Grain,

    Thanks for explaining your migraine phenomenon with even more detail. And it is very commendable how far you’ve gotten in improving your migraines. You are one of those people who really have invested time and energy into feeling better and I’m glad to see its paid off in many respects. I too am helped by many of the same things, including medication and foam roller work on my neck and back.

    I would have to look into the trends of the letdown phenomena to know for sure if they occur mainly in people with higher chronic stress levels or not. But I do know personally that I can be a worrier and habits of mine like tensing up and not sleeping well can definitely lead to a migraine when the stress and worry eases. The first and obvious suggestion is to lower stress levels. And you sound like you’ve worked hard on that. And then the second suggestion is what you said, lowering your overall threshold. Which you’ve done. Of course we can all use improvement in these areas but it does seem like you’ve given it a lot of thought.

    Here’s a third suggestion I’ve heard from doctors. And it may come as a surprise. Add more “stress” to your let-down days. It doesn’t have to be negative stress. But it could be an exciting, energetic activity. Maybe a morning run, playing a challenging game, etc.

    I’m going to provide some links too, on articles we’ve written on the subject, when I am home and on my computer tonight.

    Lisa

  • Mr. Grain author
    4 years ago

    Hi Lisa, thanks for being a thought partner with me. I call them “Friday” migraines, but really I get them on the last day of the week that I work, no matter what the day. If it’s Thanksgiving break and we get Thursday and Friday off, I get my letdown migraine on Wednesday. It is definitely like clockwork–the decreasing of immediate day-to-day stress triggers the migraine.

    Years ago, the migraine would come on Saturday, but it has shifted to my last workday for the past few years.

    I’m on two preventatives daily. Amitriptyline helps the most.

    NSAIDs and Amerge on Thursday and Friday tend to bring the migraine down to 50% power, which is a blessing.

    I’ve tried and continue to use biofeedback and mindfulness meditation. Yoga and pressure point release (foam roller) are essential. I used to get migraines almost daily, but treating my neck pain and managing my stress through the week has lowered my migraines to just the Friday migraine. Magnesium and B Complex also help.

    Here’s my current thinking: it seems like people who get stress letdown migraine have somewhat chronic stress levels to begin with. The release of stress triggers a migraine response. So do I lower my stress or raise my migraine trigger threshold? I’ve run out of ideas in both categories.

  • Lisa Robin Benson moderator
    4 years ago

    *food different not “good different”

  • Jenn Lebowitz
    4 years ago

    Hello Mr. Grain,

    What a heartfelt, brave story with an inspiring ending! Thank you SO much for sharing.

    Thank you, also, for being part of our community. We hope your final Friday at school went well and was pain-free. Please do feel free to keep us posted on how you’re doing!

    Best,

    Jenn (Community Manager, Migraine.com)

  • Mr. Grain author
    4 years ago

    Thanks Jenn. I posted this on my Facebook, and a lot of friends and colleagues reached out to me as a result. Migraine awareness month really helped motivate me!

    I’m hoping to hear from someone who has had some success with their letdown migraines… I’ve tried so many things…

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