Wednesday, 4 September 2019

GUEST POST by Vicky on Living with Chronic Migraines // Migraine Awareness Week 2019

My life with chronic migraines started when I was around 17, during my last year in secondary school when I was in the middle of my A levels. I had suffered from a few headaches in the past but they were more ‘I hadn’t drunk enough’ or mum nagging me to ‘not spend too much time on my laptop playing sims’ sort of headaches. One day a migraine struck, it hasn’t left since and from that moment, the headaches were daily. I went dizzy, I felt sick, I was confused, things didn’t seem real and I couldn’t see. My head was pounding, my eyes hurt and I felt very unattached from my surroundings. A lot of these symptoms are now the normal for me and I experience them all of the time. There isn’t a moment during my day that is headache free. 

This period was extremely tough and in some ways, it still is. Feeling like this isn’t nice, it’s hard to cope with and it definitely gets you down. Back when the migraines first hit, I faced the doctors for the first time and poured my heart out to them about how I was feeling. I broke down. All I kept thinking was why wasn’t I normal? Why was everyone else able to work and go to school still and I wasn’t? Did other people feel like this? Was this pain normal? I continually beat myself up inside around why I was feeling this way. So many emotions continually overtook my mind and because of those thoughts, I developed anxiety. I didn’t want to leave the house, I didn’t want to interact with other people, I didn’t want to see my friends or family and I completely shut myself off.  However, I did manage to achieve my A levels by completing them from home and for this, I’ll forever be proud of myself that I managed to finish school. 

Fast forward a few years and I have developed chronic fatigue alongside having a vitamin d deficiency. My joints continually ache, I have a regular sleep pattern but feel like I have never slept, I struggle to walk and keep my balance and my concentration is pretty non existent. 

Over the past couple of years, I have seen various headache specialists, neurologists and doctors for the pain. Some have understood, others didn’t seem interested and I quickly found the right support. Never settle for those that don’t listen to you. Make your voice heard. Migraines are way more than ‘just a bad headache’ and it’s important to get across how much they impact your day to day life. I have spent way too many years tucked away in my bedroom hiding from the world, suffering in silence because people wouldn’t hear me out and just kept prescribing medication after medication. 

My main GP is now a huge part of my journey and I am confident and comfortable when speaking to them. This, I believe is key. Find someone who you’re confident and comfortable to really open up around. At the start of my journey, I was told to ‘be the change that I wished to see within the world’ and this has honestly been my go to. It has kept me going and encouraged me to not give up. 

We are now in 2019. I have had therapy to help with my anxiety and thankfully, although the pain is still there, the anxiety is much more under control.  Don’t get me wrong, I still have anxious moments - don’t we all? but I am now able to face the world. I leave the house, I see my friends and family, I’m in a long term relationship and I have a full time job. Again, this is something I am extremely proud of and I’m lucky that I am able to work, as I know many migraine sufferers aren’t able too. 

As for treatment, I have received occipital nerve block injections, medications, various rounds of physio and more recently I have received botox to try and ease my migraines. Unfortunately as of yet, nothing seems to have worked for the pain and I have been referred to a specialist headache clinic in London. I have been offered Vitamin D injections to try and boost my levels to see if they can fight my daily fatigue and I am seeing a pain management team to tackle the daily pain I still experience. 

Through all of this, I refuse to give up and I believe things will get better. To me, healing looks like a future. Healing looks like a house. Healing looks like being able to create a stable family home and bring new lives into the world. Healing looks like travelling. My dream is to see more of the world and I believe that one day I’ll be able to do all of these things. 

Chronic migraine is now a part of me. It has shaped me into the person I am. Not many people my age will have been through what I have and I believe it has made me a stronger individual. We tackle life together and I believe you accept me and you accept the migraines that I come with. I decided to start my instagram and blog as a way of expressing how I felt but also to create a strong and supportive community. I want you all to know that whatever it is you’re going through, you are not alone. We are a community. We are a team. And we shall face the world, one step at a time as one big family. Knowing other people who are going through similar are only a message away is something that has really helped me during my recovery and it’s what I wanted my account to be about - An open place that others can share their experiences but also teach others about what they’re going through.

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