Written by Emily Bregal for Chronic Migraine Awareness, Inc.

I was once a person that only knew the term headache as most people do. I did not know what was actually about to happen. I always have had headaches growing up.

As a child in the Caribbean, fun in the sun is a must. Around the age of eight I began having headaches but my mom always knew some natural remedy to make me better, however as years went by these remedies didn’t do much for me.  I started taking pain killers such as ibuprofen, paracetamol etc. which helped for a short time. By the time I was in my early teen years the pain became what I described as ‘unbearable’. I found myself sometimes in so much pain that at a very young age I felt annoyed and uncomfortable playing outdoors too much as I knew what would happen next, days and nights with pain. For years I just used what I could to get by until I was officially diagnosed with migraine, which I didn’t understand at the time until I did my own research. This exposed me to signs and symptoms I had been experiencing for years but had convinced myself that maybe my pain wasn’t real. I was told by others that the pain is just in my mind, as no one could experience pain and symptoms like I was just with a headache. Years went by and I thought I’ve gotten a grip of how to avoid triggers but nevertheless the older I got the worse it got for me.

Whenever I have a migraine attack I feel so helpless that, some days, I would lay in the dark and cry myself to sleep asking why this is happening to me. For someone so energetic, I would have little to no energy to do anything and the worst part is I love cooking as much as I love to eat. Who would guess that just the smell of food and trying to eat made me feel so sick and sometimes lead to vomiting episodes and dizziness.  For years I’ve felt like migraine controlled my life as I stopped doing a lot of activities to prevent having headaches as well as cut out many different foods and snacks that may act as a trigger as well. To many it may just seem like a headache which makes it easy for them to tell you “just take pain killers!” I wish it was that simple but how can pain killers help me with blood shot eyes, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, fatigue and this feeling of getting drilled in one side of my head that sometimes makes me feel numb? It’s not easy, however, knowing my triggers and seeking the right help, which has assisted with reducing my headache days.  Nevertheless, I could never say that I feel the pain ever goes away. There are many days I wish I could trade migraine for just a headache that doesn’t come with all those other symptoms that affect my normal daily function.

It’s okay to not truly understand migraine disease but please, it’s never okay to tell someone like myself to just take pain killers and get on with my life as it’s not that simple. The pain is real and other symptoms make it worse for an individual to cope.

Emily Bregal

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