It’s Migraine Awareness Week and we’re marking the occasion with #migrainevoices, a series of posts from those affected by migraine who are sharing with us their own migraine journeys.
One of Barbara's pieces, which captures her experience of migraine
“Painting and drawing is the only thing which distracts me from the pain of a mild to mid migraine attack. It’s the ideal balance of relaxation and concentration for me.”
My name is Barbara and I’m an artist who has lived with migraine for the past 40 years.
In my twenties I remember I used to get worse hangovers than anyone else – I realise now that they were actually migraines.
By my thirties I started to react to alcohol and I noticed that if I drank anything other than vodka, I would get a migraine attack the next day. Over time, this increased in sensitivity until a small glass of wine would lead to a migraine within half an hour.
It was also at this point that I also started developing menstrual migraine – although I didn’t know then that they were migraine attacks.
Then one day I woke with a migraine attack and asked my partner to get some painkillers for me. He decided to take me straight to A&E, which was horrendous! Waiting in A&E with a full-blown migraine was a nightmare, but it was the doctor there who finally gave me the migraine diagnosis. At last I had a diagnosis and had the correct medication to deal with the pain!
It was around my mid-forties that I went into perimenopause and my migraines became chronic. The doctors tried me on a few preventatives – none of which worked – before sending me to see a neurologist. We also cycled through various preventatives, none of which worked, until, in the end, we found one! Flunarizine finally kept me clear of most migraine attacks for over ten years!
Then, suddenly, it stopped working and I started getting daily migraines of varying intensity.
Since then I have tried Ajovy and nerve blocks before I was put back on the flunarizine, which worked for about a year before, once again, suddenly stopping working.
I’m now 60 and had some injections on Friday, which feel like my last chance as I’ve been through all other options.
Despite the pain of my condition, I still manage to get my artwork done. I do collaborations with disabled people, where I paint their portraits and they tell their stories in their own words to accompany the portraits.
Painting and drawing is the only thing which distracts me from the pain of a mild to mid migraine attack. It’s the ideal balance of relaxation and concentration for me.