The most important thing you can do for yourself is to try and listen to what your body needs.

Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

Picture this scenario: You roll over to turn the alarm clock off and you cringe in pain. One side of your head is throbbing and you feel nauseous. The smell of bacon that your significant other is cooking downstairs wafts up to your room and makes your stomach turn. You start to panic because you have an entire day full of tasks ahead of you that you know you will not be able to tackle now. The only thing you will be doing is laying in bed and visiting the toilet.

If you were nodding in agreement, then you have unfortunately experienced a migraine headache before. A migraine is not a headache where you can just pop some aspirin and go about your day. It is not just a minor inconvenience. In a lot of cases, these headaches can bring you to your knees and force you to lay in a dark room until they decide to finally move on.

I have struggled with migraines ever since I hit puberty. Migraines can be caused by a lot of factors and one of them is hormones.Since my migraines started at puberty, mine were most likely linked to changing levels of Estrogen. I would always get a migraine the day before that time of the month would begin. At least I had a warning, I guess.

Sometimes, the pain would be manageable. I would be out of it but still tried my best to function at school and later in life, at work. However, some months would be so severe I would have no choice but to stay home, sleep, and if the pain became really severe, I would throw up.

My mom also experienced migraines throughout her entire life. I remember being a kid and I knew that when the bedroom door was shut in the middle of the day, mom had to be left alone. I remember she would be in bed all day and in the evening, I would hear the toilet flush and she would come out of the bedroom.

Her pain levels got to a point where her body didn’t know what to do to help so it made her throw up. She always felt better after this happened. Gross, but true.

Just this week, I was sitting on the couch and got really tired out of nowhere. All I remember next is waking up an hour later with a stuffy nose and a pounding in the back of my head. It felt like someone was hitting me with a hammer in the back of the skull. I thought I might have caught the flu.

I set the alarm and went to bed, planning on spending the next day at work. I woke up in the morning and my head still hurt, but it wasn’t as severe. So I went to work as usual. About halfway through the morning, my head started to pound again and I felt sick. I worked a half day and went home.

I spent the entire rest of the day on the couch with varying levels of pain in the back of my head. I was able to go out to the store in the evening but I ended up feeling worse and ended up right back on the couch.

The next day, I woke up and the back of my head was sore and tender to the touch. I texted my boss to let her know I wouldn’t be in that day. I ended up eating breakfast, taking 2 more Excedrin Migraine pills, and took a nap at 10. I had just woken up at 8.

Photo by Kalegin Michail on Unsplash

And miraculously, after the morning nap and medicine combo, I finally bounced back.

I explained all of this because this is what a typical struggle with a migraine is like for me. The more research I do, I discover that a lot of people also struggle with these painful headaches.

I don’t know about you, but I hate migraines because I potentially lose multiple days. Those days are lost, I can’t get them back. I can’t manage to be productive and no creative ideas come to mind because I’m in a fog. All I can focus on is the pounding in my head. Not to mention the light from my laptop makes me cringe.

One thing I try to do when I’m experiencing a migraine, is to quickly try to decrease the severity. When I feel a migraine coming on, I take 2 Excedrin Migraine pills right away. Depending on the migraine I am experiencing, that will be enough to hold it at bay and I can manage to finish whatever I am working on. This rarely works.

Other days, like this week, I take 2 Excedrin Migraine pills and it fades for a few hours and then comes back with a vengeance. When this happens, I have no choice but to give in and stop what I’m doing until it passes. This usually means laying down and sleeping for as long as possible.

Now don’t get me wrong, even when I have a migraine that is extremely painful, I do try to work through it. Sometimes it is not possible to take time off from work or not be present for your family. When I can’t go home and lay down, I just slow down and try to take it easier that day. To me, getting some work done is better than none at all.

I also tend to push myself when I shouldn’t. But, that’s a whole other discussion for a different time.

The most important thing you can do for yourself is to try and listen to what your body needs. Migraines can be caused by so many different triggers. It is important that when you do experience one, to try and figure out what may have caused it.

Are you experiencing extra stress at work or home? Have there been drastic changes to your sleeping habits? Did you eat something that could have triggered it? All of these things are important to pay attention to so you can change whatever is needed so the migraine can be prevented.

One thing I can suggest that helped me this week, is to work if and when the migraine stops being so painful. For example, this week, my migraine fluctuated a few times in terms of the pain level. There were a few times where the pain had subsided to a dull throb and in that window of time, I was able to get some work done. Then, when the pain came back in full force, I stopped working and dealt with the pain instead.

My migraines have made me appreciate the days where I am in good health and can get a lot done. You never know how lucky you are until an issue with your health interferes and your productivity dips as a result.

Do you suffer from migraine headaches? What do you do to cope? I would love to hear from you.

Writing about all kinds of life stuff. Sharing my experiences to help and inspire others. ashleymattice.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store