When I’m in Limbo, Is It Time to Push Myself, or Should I Lie Low?

I recorded this video several months ago now, but I have had this same scenario pop up countless times since then. Migraine is a persnickety illness and, for me and many others, its attacks don’t always follow a predictable pattern. That makes it hard to know if I should “power through” a low-grade episode or baby myself.


What do you think? Have you recently been in a position where you had to decide whether or not to keep going with your day because migraine was getting in the way? What did you decide, and how did it turn out?

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Comments

View Comments (13)
  • BirdMom
    1 year ago

    This is usually how it happens for me – I feel the pressure first as a warning that a migraine is eminent & I may or may not feel a bit low energy. Then its the anxiety – do I take the rescue meds or not. Even after almost 30 years I struggle with biting the bullet and taking the meds, rather than trying to power through on the off chance that I won’t develop the migraine (which happens about 5% of the time). The bad thing is the 95%! If I don’t take the meds the migraine is potentially worse! For me, best thing to do is take the meds and slow down a little. Lying down is actually uncomfortable for my head until I get to a point about 6 hours down the road when I feel very sleepy. So being upright is the best.

  • LianneC-UK
    1 year ago

    I am in this position so frequently and it never seems to get any easier… for me, part of the problem is that in addition to the push through/lay low equation is that I feel obliged to meet the expectation (perceived and real) of others’. This can mean that I feel bad for ‘letting my team down’ at work or missing that family/friend event – so I push through, and then not only feel terrible, but it drags on and on – you can’t think, see or hear properly, running out of meetings to vomit and go back to your desk, try to see the funny side when people comment on wearing sunglasses indoors etc- but you persevere because you feel like you have to. I know I’m not productive or fun to be around – so then I feel bad because I’m there but “I’m” not there either…
    Or I don’t go, and I still can’t think, see or hear properly – I’m still running to the bathroom to be sick every so often – sometimes I need background noise, sometimes even the white noise of silence is too much… and during this time, I’m again beating myself up with thoughts of how much of a let down I am for not pushing through…

    I don’t know how many of you out there suffer like I do, my migraines typically last 1 day but will ease slightly after about 3pm (this accounts for about 75% of my migraines, the other 25% can last for days) – so then I feel guilty when I am able to go out or just do something other than lie down and/or vomit.

    I’ve been quite lucky – while many people around me don’t know much about migraine – some have, or at least know that it can be unpredictable at best. I feel even more burdensome to these people when they say “don’t worry about it, go and rest” – and then resting doesn’t work because it’s one of ‘those’ migraines that simply will not cooperate with any amount of meds, alternative remedies, rest, sleep, hot/cold, massage, etc.

    While the fighter and optimist in me is screaming, the pragmatist in me is realising that, like arguing with a toddler, you’ll never ‘win’ the ‘what do I do when I’m in limbo’ argument, and the best strategy is simply not to play. I do worry about what this may mean for my career etc but the thinking about it can feed the migraine – and they don’t need any more help – I try to just do what feels right in each given scenario and try not to worry about what might be, as it might not be either…

    Stay strong fellow migraineurs

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    1 year ago

    I read your response three times–it is as if you took the thoughts right out of my brain, starting with this: “I feel obliged to meet the expectation (perceived and real) of others.”

    I don’t have anything wise to respond with apart from saying that I hear you and am glad we can bond over this.

    -Janet

  • Nananina
    1 year ago

    I have been in this situation countless times throughout my 30 years suffering migraine. I have pushed myself most of the times and have been able to survive the 72 hours that follow by taking the meds.
    Why do we push ourselves knowing that a migraine is imminent? In my case, I always think that if I stop because I feel a migraine coming, I wouldn’t have a life. So I keep on going.
    This past year, I have been so exhausted, physically and emotionally, I have had to stop. The hardest part has been acceptance. You would think that after 30 years I would have accepted my illness. I realized that because I have been pushing myself, I hadn’t truly accepted the migraine as a chronic illness, as a disability.
    It’s had an impact on my self-esteem; I’ve been feeling useless. Also, it feels like I’ve let everyone down (family, friends, work).
    I’m still seeking the right treatment with a Neurologist, but it’s going side by side with a coach to help me through the emotional struggles.
    Do you also look after your emotional/mental health as part of your migraine treatment?

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    1 year ago

    I can identify with everything you’ve written. I’ve had periods where I’ve felt very accepting of my disability and the likelihood that it’s here for the rest of my life; other times I am in active denial. I do look after my emotional and mental health as part of migraine treatment, but it took me awhile to get to that stage. Thank goodness for a great therapist who really gets it–turns out he has several clients with chronic illness and can help me work through my issues, including those presented by the fact that I run my own business.

    I admit I feel envious sometimes of migraine patients who only get a few attacks a year (and not 10-15 a month like me): I wish I had the option of just going straight to bed with my medication, knowing it would be over soon. But when you can’t tell if this is going to be a bad one or not, and you have already had 10 episodes in the last few weeks, it’s hard to know how to ration your off time. 🙁

    Take care; thanks for the conversation.

    -Janet G.

  • LisaLisa53
    1 year ago

    My decision criteria is whether I am going to start throwing up. I take my meds (including those for nausea) as soon as I can. But some times I am looking at running to the bathroom (at work) to throw up OR going home. Going home means throwing up into a plastic trash bag while I am driving home. Once at home, I will use my laptop to keep working while laying on the bathroom floor between “episodes”. This way I can still keep going, and not miss any more work days. I am lucky because my boss suffers from migraines too – so she understands what I am up against. There have also been days when I stayed at work and used the “Mother’s Nursing Room” to take a nap (with the permission of my boss).

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    1 year ago

    Oh, Lisa, that sounds so tough. I have also napped at work back in the day when I worked for someone else–my supervisor totally understood my need to pass out for a bit while the meds took effect, but my office mate did NOT. Ha. Glad that time is over. 🙂

    Take care; I hope you’re feeling as well as possible today.

    -Janet G.

  • cyndirafler
    1 year ago

    We had a discussion about this subject in a support group I attended today. Knowing your body is ramping up for a migraine can be challenging in itself. I start getting anxious about all the time that is going to be missed, how I am going to fall behind on my schedule, and the people I will disappoint. This is the time to breath and be gentle with one’s self. Knowing that the pain is going to cause me to lose more time, I rearrange my schedule, prioritizing only things that are important and work a little at time on big project, To help me cope I reach out for support from friends and find pleasant activities to socialize with. I save the dark room and hibernation for the most difficult pain. One thing that i do have trouble overcoming is that once the full migraine hits is the photo sensitivity to the computer monitor. I enjoy commenting and blogging but sometimes I have to unplug for days.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    1 year ago

    Cyndi,

    Reading your response was calming in and of itself. I actually took a nice, long, deep breath while reading the lines, “This is the time to breathe and be gentle with one’s self.” Thanks for that.

    I really want to attend a support group where I live, but I think the only way one will get started is if I organize it, and goodness knows I don’t need something else on my plate!

    -Janet G.

  • GeekyOwl
    1 year ago

    I’m late in reading/watching your post however, I have been in your situation so many times. Most times I push through and hopes it doesn’t get worst. Usually, at some point during the day the migraine will appear but because I was expecting it i take my meds quickly to prevent it from turning into a huge one. But if I begin to feel dizzy on top of the fuzziness and I can get to a bed, I will go lay down, take meds and pray it will be over soon.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    1 year ago

    Thank you for the comment, GeekyOwl. (Also: I like your screen name.)

    Janet

  • Luna
    1 year ago

    Since this video is posted after the fact what did you do and how did that work out?

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    1 year ago

    This happens to me a LOT, but I believe that on this particular day I kept working at about a 50% effort level, which wasn’t really ideal for anyone. 🙁

    -Janet

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