Tortured

Picture this.

You’re sitting there, minding your own business. Physically, you feel fine. You’re doing whatever it is that you do — sitting at work, hanging with friends, at the movies, at the circus, basket-weaving, whatever. Then… it hits you.

It starts as a dull pain in your head. You notice it, and it “hurts,” but not enough to take action. Yet.

You try to go about your business; ignore it. MAYBE IT WILL GO AWAY.

It doesn’t.

The dull pain now graduates to a throbbing, pulsating, more intense pain. It travels to the back of your eyes and throughout your entire skull. You swear your hair even hurts. This isn’t a sore throat, or a leg cramp – this is your BRAIN, literally aching to the point of utter distraction. You can’t think of anything else except PAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIN!!!!!!!!!!!

Now, normal everyday things like LIGHT and SOUND become your mortal enemy, and you fantasize about a pitch-black silent room so you can avoid the suffering, nausea and frustration caused by this headache. In fact, you laugh at the word headache. You’d take a “headache” any day over whatever this is.

The pain gets worse; you can’t think straight, in fact it actually hurts to think, and in some horrible cases, you start actually thinking that death might be a better option than this.

Ice packs (temporarily) ease and numb the pain – but you often don’t have access to those. So you reach for your prescription medication… breathe… and wait.

What I just described to you is a migraine. And I get them at least once a week.

I don’t want my condition to define me, but I guess in a way they are a part of me and have been for most of my adult life. I don’t remember my first migraine, but I do remember having headaches as a kid, even at an age where you shouldn’t even know what a headache is. I was popping adult Tylenol’s in elementary school like it was nothing. At seven years old I rolled my eyes at your Chewable aspirins; get outta here with that. Gimme the good stuff!!

In high school the headaches got worse, and then in college they intensified significantly. I once scared my entire dorm (and mother) into thinking I had Meningitis when I was plagued by a migraine that caused me to vomit continuously and lay incapacitated in my bed for oh, I don’t know, about 12 hours.

The migraines started to take over; they came with a vengeance, ruining social events, affecting my schoolwork (sorry, had to laugh at that one), and more importantly, RUINING SOCIAL EVENTS!

So, it then began. Neurologists, physical therapists, chiropractors, and massage therapists. MRIs, CAT scans, Biofeedback (yes, that’s a real thing) and herbal supplements.

I also visited an Iridologist (yep, also a real thing) and Nutritionist who put me on an insane, strict and ridiculous diet to attempt to detox my body from all the junk I put into it for years. I drank green goo every night and was not allowed dairy, white breads, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and pretty much anything that tasted good. I lasted a few months, and shed a few pounds, but I was starving. And while it may have helped. I still got headaches.

An MRI once came back revealing my brain was “torturous.” I didn’t need to pay money for that information; I could have told you that. Truth is, these migraines were torturing ME.

It turns out there is/was nothing “wrong” with me; just that I’m one of the lucky millions of people in the world affected by this disease. And yes, it is a disease.

Sometimes it feels awful knowing that no one really understands what I go through on a daily basis, and that they dismiss my condition as just a “headache” and to “suck it up.” I don’t wish one of my worst headaches — which have landed me in the ER — on my worst enemy, but secretly wish everyone could experience a fraction of the pain just to know what it’s like. I am livid at anyone who throws the word ‘migraine’ around loosely, “Ugh! I have such a migraine!” Even though they’re visibly fine; laughing, going about their day normally. YOU DO NOT HAVE A MIGRAINE, AND I AM GOING TO PUNCH YOU.

I’m willing to do anything to get better and live migraine-free, so I’m always looking for new and innovative treatments. And in the meantime, I take a prescription medication (called Relpax, if you’re interested) that works wonders and has pretty much saved my life.

I don’t mean to insult my brain, though, because I think it’s a perfectly good brain, and I still wouldn’t trade it for anyone else’s.

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

View Comments (9)
  • pooh2you
    6 years ago

    Thanks so much for your story, it is so similar to mine in many ways. I’ve said it before that I love this site because there are people that I can relate to. I am lucky if I only have 1 migraine per week, and I love Relpax the only problem I have with it is that I can only get 6 tabs per month! I also use midrin and fioricet, as well as lamictol and verapamil daily. I have learned to deal with the migraine-ignorant people by just ignoring them. I wish you luck with coping with your pain.

  • Nola
    6 years ago

    I guess I’m somewhat “fortunate” in that my husband can recognize immediately when I have a migraine. After people get to know me, they can also see it. I do have one physical manifestation that is always very telling – my lips turn purple to nearly black. It’s very weird, but there you have it.

  • Janet
    6 years ago

    Relpax was my saving grace for 8 years…like everything else I knew it couldn’t last. Frova is my buddy now. So enjoy the relief you get and don’t (which I know you don’t ) take every minute it gives you.

    Your post speaks for many…unfortunately we get it…it’s the non-migraine world that I sadly feel will always think it’s just a headache unless they see you laying motionless on the floor of the bathroom, in bed, on a couch, or in the ER.

    My family is tired of me sharing migraine.com articles and posts that often times say how I feel better than I could ever say myself.

    I am looking forward to the AHMA conference in Scottsdale because I NEED to be with other just like me. I hope to meet many authors of these awesome posts and articles.

    Blessings
    Janet

  • Monsmig
    6 years ago

    I loved your story! It made me laugh :).. Hey I love laughing when I have a migraine! I laughed at the ridiculousness we have to endure with people that are not migraneurs. I do wish people could feel what we feel at least for a minute I’m sure that’s all it would take. Good luck on your search for that new treatment :).. Good luck and good wishes to everyone that deals with this crap! We need it

  • Nancy Harris Bonk moderator
    6 years ago

    Thanks for sharing your story with us.

    This is one of the biggest problems with migraine – it is invisible. No one can actually “see” our pain, we have no cast, bandage, cane or sling to signify we are hurting. We know when someone has a broken limb or a cut, we can see the injury, but you can’t see migraine.

    Nancy

  • Janet
    6 years ago

    Ditto…can’t see it so whats wrong with you???? I got tired of saying to friends and family I have a migraine everyday and I think they were relieved. But I finally needed to let them know that there is a sidebar…I have a migraine EVERYDAY.. The number level of pain changes…but ask me if you want to know how bad it is if im walking and talking doesnt mean im okay, especially when I ask you to lower your voice, or the tv, or turn off the car radio, etc., that’s when I hear “I didn’t know you had a headache( GRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!)..correction, I say, MIGRAINE.

    I stay visible until I can’t stand to hear my husband breathe. Then I go to bed….but I decided to let those around me migraine aware to what their level of wanting to know is so they know I stay around until the level gets out of hand and before I know I’ll lose 2 days or more, once again, to this monster.

    Blessings
    Janet

  • ekellyclark
    6 years ago

    Thanks for your post. I wish you all the best in your migraine journey.

    If I may add my two cents, just because someone looks “visibly fine,” but says he/she has a migraine, doesn’t mean there is no migraine! Personally, I experience migraines virtually every day (if I’m lucky, there is one day a month that is migraine-free).

    I made a choice to continue to live my life as much as possible (continue graduate school, go to work, etc). There are many times that I am out of bed, dressed nicely, participating in the world when I have a migraine. I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve said “I have a terrible migraine” and people have responded, “but you look so…normal!”

    Everyone has different thresholds of pain and different ways of coping with the pain (and, for that matter, all the other symptoms). Please, everyone, don’t negate a person’s suffering based on how they look.

  • ekellyclark
    6 years ago

    I see now. Again, best of luck in finding relief!

  • Ali A. author
    6 years ago

    I’m sorry; I definitely didn’t mean to come across as insensitive! I really just meant that there are people I’ve come across who use the term “migraine” loosely. I’ve seen people laughing, goofing around, being loud and will say to others, “I have such a migraine!” I think they’re sort of saying it casually and don’t realize the severity of that word and what it entails for us sufferers. Maybe they have a mild/normal headache and are just choosing the wrong word, but I take offense to it.

    I, too, have had to work/go through life with severe migraines and maybe to certain people I “look” fine – but I’m certainly not laughing and running around being silly. Hope that helps clarify!

    But yes, I do agree that everyone suffers differently and I try not to judge because I would never want anyone to judge me, either. 🙂

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