My Twenty Year Migraine…

Written by Melissa Bearden for Chronic Migraine Awareness, Inc.

I’m Melissa, and I’ve been living with one constant (yes, 24/7 and non-stop) migraine attack for just under 20 years.

I had bacterial spinal meningitis (the Haemophilus influenzae type B or HIB strain) with lots of complications when I was a toddler and almost died, it was 13 months before the vaccine came out. Very soon after, before I turned two years old, I started having migraine attacks.

I was officially diagnosed with migraine at age five or six. I have been seeing doctors and specialists for it ever since. I have been on basically every medicine out there that is used to treat migraine, have had numerous tests and procedures during the years, many of which were very painful.

My migraine attacks were episodic and usually treated pretty effectively through the years with managing my triggers the best I could and finding the right preventative and abortive medicine combination that worked. Also, a few alternative therapies helped manage them. But, just under 20 years ago during my spring semester of my freshman year of college, my life changed. For some reason or another, my body decided to go chronic. Now, chronic migraine for most people mean that they have 15 or more days a month with a migraine attack. My chronic is a migraine that has been non-stop with NO relief in pain whatsoever for 20 years. Also known as chronic intractable migraine. In the last 10 years or so, my normal pain level has been an eight or nine out of ten. It is never less than eight but can also feel worse than 10. 

I’m not currently taking anything for migraine prevention. Nothing is helping or working and my doctor and I decided recently to take a break for several months from the meds for migraine I’ve been on and then decide where to go or start again from there. I’m feeling a bit defeated right now about everything. My hope is that the future will bring more research breakthroughs. I know the migraine community has had a lot of new treatments in recent years that have helped so many! I remain hopeful there will eventually be a cure! 

My mom had migraine attacks, but hers were strictly hormonal. She does not get them anymore. My triggers are environmental; heat, humidity, barometric and temperature changes, schedule changes, not eating on time, not getting enough sleep, etc. now make my 20 year old migraine attack worse. My symptoms are non-stop head pain 24/7 and can range from an 8 to 10 and is my most debilitating symptom. Other dibilitationg symptoms include;  fatigue, insomnia (when I can’t sleep the pain gets worse and when the pain gets worse, I can’t sleep), feeling hungover 24/7, nausea, neck pain, tight muscles, sound sensitivity, difficulty concentrating, feeling lightheaded/dizzy at times, mood changes, high sensitivity to smells. There are probably others I’m leaving out but they are constantly running together and mixing up all day long. I’m not able to work anymore in my career one, that I loved. My social life is almost non-existent and friends have become few and far between. Because of my health, I live with my parents. They are the biggest blessing in my life. I wouldn’t be here without their love, support and encouragement!

One response to “My Twenty Year Migraine…”

  1. Thanks, Melissa for sharing what must be a most difficult life to live. I have suffered from migraines for several points in my life and I can’t imagine having to live with that forever.
    Love Marie C.


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