Written by Deena Patel for Chronic Migraine Awareness, Inc
I remember having what was probably my first migraine when I was about eight-years-old. At the time I didn’t know what it was, all I remember was that I needed to be in a dark room.
I started getting chronic migraine attacks seven years ago. I get a minimum of 4-5 migraine attacks a week but during and after my period they’re atrocious. They can last a week straight with constant throbbing and nausea, finding myself in tears and often leading me to the hospital.
However going to the hospital is a different story as many doctors treat me or look at me like a druggie looking for a fix. I find myself having to justify my pain and often get told “you’re in hospital for a headache”. I come from a country in Africa where not many people know or understand the severity of migraine, including doctors. To most people a migraine is just a headache and they don’t understand what all the fuss is, it’s like get over it we all get headaches. Or they’ll simply say to you “oh I get headaches too”. It irks the hell out of me, but I’ve learnt to ignore.
God only knows how I made it through college getting my degree and even my masters. I often wrote my three hour exams in agony with blurred vision and nausea, sometimes I could not even read my own writing. Migraine can destroy your life, your social life and your family life. Sometimes you even doubt if your own family believes you’re in that much agony. Apart from that, I am blessed to have a supportive and understanding family and my mum suffers migraines too so she knows the pain.
A migraine is a pain you cannot describe and someone who has never experienced one will never understand. It is far from a bad headache. It is like being pounded, stabbed, drilled, with a constant throbbing, accompanied by nausea, vomiting, dizziness, hot sweats, and racing pulse. I can smell everything around me, I can hear everything, even a needle drop. I often go days without even combing my hair.
Due to the high frequency of my migraine attacks I haven’t been able to work. I feel like such a failure and a let down, like I’ve achieved nothing. Every other day someone will say to me “ I wish I could be like you and stay home all day doing nothing” or, “ just drink water and you’ll be fine”. If they only knew the constant battle we go through. I’ve been on so many different medications and have seen many doctors but nothing has worked as yet. I have come to accept this disease and am okay with this. Beating myself up and feeling sorry for myself won’t change the situation. Therefore, I’ve decided to be as positive as I can and take things a day at a time and enjoy the little things in life and find joy in anything. Yes I do have days or weeks that I cry and say why me, I allow myself to feel sorry for myself but then I brush it off and do something that brings me joy and relaxes me. I love baking it gives me peace and calmness so whenever I feel I’m going down a dark path I decide to bake.
As humans let us always show compassion to one another, even when you do not know or understand the pain another is going through. Always try and be the light in someone’s life. Migraine is a part of our lives, BUT they’re not our lives. Our lives are more than that. I hope my experience can help even just one person, to feel they’re not alone.