I’ve been living with chronic migraine for over 7 years now and for the last few years, this has involved being in significant, daily pain.
The easiest way I can explain the pain to people who aren’t migraine sufferers is that it’s like waking up every day with the worst hangover you’ve ever had – but sadly you didn’t have a great party the night before!
It’s safe to say any chronic illness can be incredibly debilitating, impacting every aspect of your life. The World Health Organisation (WHO) categorised migraine as the same level of disability as dementia, quadriplegia and acute psychosis. The WHO classified chronic migraine as more disabling than blindness, paraplegia angina or rheumatoid arthritis.
Chronic migraine also takes its toll on your mental health. Living with significant daily pain is exhausting and emotionally draining. The treatment cycle of hope and disappointment is a tough one.
I’ve met numerous neurologists and I’ve tried nearly all treatments available, from the conventional (10 prescription medications, Botox, nerve blocks, Aimovig) to the alternative (acupuncture, physiotherapy, homeopathy, bio-resonance). Sadly, nothing has helped apart from acceptance. Though that is something I’m still working on – my chronic health conditions are at odds with my workaholic tendencies and they’re not helped by being a naturally anxious worrier. I’m still trying to find that balance – to accept my limitations, manage my frustrations and not let my health define me.
Some days are more successful than others, we’re all a work in progress after all.
Despite (or maybe because of) the daily challenges, living with chronic pain has taught me a lot. I’ve learnt to be grateful for the little things and to focus on what I can do, rather than what I can’t do.
I love hiking with my dog and I find that wonderfully restorative. I’ve learnt patience and perseverance, acceptance and adaptation. I’ve learnt not to compare my journey to others and to always try to look forward. Perhaps most importantly, I’ve learnt that our greatest freedom is in how we respond to things.
Most people wouldn’t know I have a chronic illness – migraine is invisible and over the years, you build up a remarkable ability to carry on despite the pain. When you have daily migraines, there isn’t really any other option. I’ve decided to share my story to help raise awareness of this debilitating condition, to foster greater understanding (it’s not just a headache and no, I can’t just take a paracetamol!) and support others who may be going through a similar experience.
You’re not alone. We are stronger than we wish we had to be and luckily stronger than we know.