I’ve been interviewing migraine sufferers recently and I am starting to notice a few recurring trends. Most people are in one of two places. They are currently on the “specialist circuit” or they have resigned themselves to their current state and stopped looking.
Let me explain what I mean by the ‘specialist circuit’. Many migraineurs at some point seem to go through this stage where they go from specialist to specialist in different fields. The only thing that differs is how long they stay on this circuit.
I was on the specialist circuit for 14 years.
It was hugely expensive. I easily spent over $10,000 on my migraines in medications and consultations. Some of the stops along the way were to:
- an acupuncturist
- an Ayurveda
- an osteopath
- a behavioural optometrist
- a nutritionist
Whilst none of them ‘cured’ my migraine they all served a purpose. Hope.
Which is why I kept on the circuit for so long. Without trying another option, whether that be a new diet or specialist, I risked losing hope. This was the only way to avoid slipping into a depressed state without light at the end of the tunnel.
Each new treatment was an opportunity to discover the ‘silver bullet’ that would kill my migraines. Unfortunately the silver bullet never came. But recently, something changed that has affected me personally and my migraine condition forever.
I took charge
I realized that I had gradually developed a bad habit of going to others to help me with my problem. I had become a victim, defeated, before I even walked in the next specialist’s door. My spirits had been slammed over the years with a barrage of migraines. In that state of mind, you don’t realize that you have any power to take control over your situation.
What surprised me was how much control I could take back.
Once I changed my attitude, I was able to accept responsibility for my migraines. And by that I don’t mean blaming yourself for having the migraine condition. I mean taking more accountability for your condition. So that you’re not going to others saying blindly “here take my money and fix me”. Rather, you’re thinking about what you need or could do to improve and seeking consult in partnership with others.
What happens is a shift in your attitude. I went from “please doc, you gotta help me, this is awful” to “How I can take control over this”. And don’t get me wrong, it was awful. I know how hard it is when you are in the depths of despair. Anxiety, panic attacks and depression are common. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If I see a specialist I am now thinking – how can they help me, help myself. I am no longer a blind helpless victim. I am stronger, smarter, more resilient, more able and willing to stand up and push for a healthy and happy life. And you can too.
To get there it involved changing a few things:
- Updating my knowledge & understanding about migraines
- Checking my attitude & behaviour – both can have a tremendous impact on your migraine condition.
- Managing your triggers
This change happened when I began investigating my condition like a detective. I was the detective, my migraines the crime. Every trigger became a suspect.
But I didn’t do it alone.
You are the key person. But you’ll to recruit people to your team for help. From in and outside yourself. Here are a few sources that I relied heavily on:
- Friends and family who are understanding and love you and try to understand.
- A consistent migraine diary that keeps an accurate record of your condition.
- A great doctor who you trust and talks to you on equal grounds.
- Persistence – you get up. After each and every time you get an attack. Once the pounding & nausea stops, you keep going.
- Discipline – to keep your health and habits in balance. Your diet, rest, work, sleep & exercise are fundamental.
- Hope – that things will get better -because they do.
Who & what do you have in your team?
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Photo credit: Luigi Rosa