Migraine is not just a headache.
In honour of June being headache and migraine awareness month, i thought i’d write a quick post about what my migraines feel like. It can be hard to imagine and there’s a lot of misinformation related to migraine, one of them being that migraine is just a headache. this is very much not true. hell, often a headache is not “just” a headache.
It generally starts with a feeling off something being off, like my entire perception is just slightly shifted. Then the pain comes on, sometimes fast, sometime gradually but it’s a fairly unique kind of pain and is accompanied by my senses becoming even more heightened than usual, especially to light and sound. There will be some level of nausea and dizziness (it interacts with my meniere’s disease)… and then there’s the strange neurological symptoms. Typing becomes harder, typos all over the place. Getting words out becomes near impossible at times, i just “lose” the word i want. Fatigue, overheating, symptoms i usually have, go way up and my depression comes on like a wave. (there is actually a link between migraine and suicide) my sense of self tends to fade into the background as i become just this vessel for pain. i’ve learnt to function through it “thanks” to a four month migraine a couple of years ago, but i’m not exaggerating when i say it’s an exquisite form of hell. This can last anywhere from 20 minutes (if i’m EXTREMELY lucky – which i’m usually not, to days, weeks or months. the average for me is 1 – 3 days depending on how the medication works. if it doesn’t then it’s a trip to the hospital, but that’s a whole other post.)
But once the medication works, the pain goes first. Makes sense, i guess… it came first. Then the nausea/dizziness and heightened senses, and the overheating goes back to normal. but the other stuff stays and the fatigue actually gets worse. and this phase, which i call post migraine flop (or PMF) seems to last a little longer after each migraine. the first few, it lasted 12 to 24 hours, but the last one it was well over 48 hours. And i worry that it’s going to get to the point that i’m in PMF from migraine to migraine.
i hope that i’ve given you a better idea of what i migraine can be like. it truly isn’t just a headache, it’s a neurological condition and the periods of head pain etc are a flare up of this disease. if you know someone who suffers from migraine, please be kind to them when they’re not well.