Anyone who gets migraines, knows the struggle of this burden. Constantly having to explain to people that it is more than just a headache, and it will not go away with just a couple of tablets and a glass of water.
Many people find it hard to understand and more often than not, look down on those who suffer from migraines. I’ve experienced this first hand it’s awful when you realise no one actually believes you’re in serious pain.
I understand, when you’ve never experienced a type of pain, it’s hard to comprehend what that person is feeling. For example, I’ve never had eczema, so I don’t know the pain that comes with that. Most people who don’t have it, simply see it as dry skin and the immediate cure for that would be to moisturise. Except it’s not. It’s so much more than that, and that’s what people need to understand about migraines. They are not just a headache. I would never shun someones cry for help when they’re experiencing a pain I’ve never had, that on the surface seems to be something little to myself.
I experienced this treatment at its worst at a job in retail. I was working in Selfridges actually, for Reiss and I had a manager who was awful about the fact I got migraines. The store was small, and we only had around 5 members of staff working, so if I was ill, I was the worst person on the planet because I left her short for the day. That was not my fault as I was simply a sales assistant, and more often than not, I had to go into work with a migraine and I would be sat in the back where it was dark and trying to hold the sick down.
She never understood the pain that came with them, and therefore couldn’t relate that I was actually ill and it wasn’t a matter of a simple headache. My headaches are a little different, I actually wake up with headaches each morning, and I am on medication twice a day to keep it at bay. Then once I feel a migraine coming on (once you have them enough these become pretty easy to spot, however sometimes migraines can come on in a matter of minutes and really blind side you) I have another type of medication which 9 times out of 10, stops the migraine from forming.
Because of this, I have what is called a Chronic Migraine and I am one of the 1% of the UK population that suffers from them. It’s horrible but it’s something I have learnt to live with as I’ve gotten older. During school people thought I wanted to go home, then in college it got worse and then even worse at university. Naturally, having headaches this often, and migraines more than I would like, this means I suffer from Migraine Hangovers which does effect how my performance is in everyday tasks at work. Some people actually don’t work due to chronic migraines and claim a disability allowance. It is that bad. I can work though, so that’s not something I would consider an option. I just need a couple of days off work sometimes to recover.
The pain is so difficult to explain, because it’s so different every time. Sometimes I can’t see and I have blind spots, other times I need to squeeze my head really hard and that actually relieves my pain (until I remove the pressure), sometimes it’s like I am being kicked from every angle over and over again. It’s honestly so uncomfortable and I panic. I sometimes panic that the pain is never going to go away, and I end up having a panic attack because it hurts so much.
You know what is worse than having employers and friends not believe the pain you’re in? The nurses not believing you. Yup, the nurses. I used to go to the doctors and they’d tell me to sit back and just keep drinking water, sometimes I would go straight to A&E. Sometimes I’d ring 111 when it got terrible and an ambulance would come out to me (I don’t like having this incase it’s not serious but I always end up getting taken to hospital and staying in for around a week).
As mentioned above, sometimes I used to go straight to A&E. When I was in uni, I didn’t have a doctor, so I would only go if it was serious. Who has time for a doctor when you’re at uni… I did end up getting one but they were MILES away.
The routine was always the same. I’d have a headache, that progressed to a migraine, then I’d be bed bound for around 3 days, I wouldn’t be able to keep food or drink down, so I’d brace myself to get dressed and take myself to A&E. Normally at 4am due to no longer being able to handle the pain.
Once I’d get there, the nurses would have ago at me for wasting their time and that it is just a headache. I always felt awful. Of course, as I was there, and they had to do the standard checks on me, that’s when they changed their tune. My reading was always off the charts they had (which is pretty fucking serious) then they always had the audacity to yell at me again for not going to them sooner!!! I know, this happened every time. I was always in shock. I knew not to go straight away because it would sometimes pass, but when it was a few days, I knew I had to take action. I couldn’t win.
Anyway, they’d keep me in and the amount of checks they did was unreal. They never knew what was causing my migraines, and multiple specialists used to check on me, but there’s still no answer.
I still don’t have an answer. I go to the specialists all of the time, I’ve had numerous CT and MRI scans, pints of blood taken from me, and medication forced upon me, but no answers. I get the same answer ‘it’s something you’re going to have to live with for the rest of your life’ – that’s the hardest thing to hear. Living each day in pain and there’s nothing much anyone can do for me.
I understand that there’s no cure, but I wish I knew what was causing them. I’ve done everything under the book, changed my diet, tried different meds, exercise, opticians, and whatever else usually causes migraines. I’ve had years to figure out what and none of the above seem to stop or enhance them.
I also understand that I am not the only one suffering.
There’s so many people out there with the same as me, and so many people who are probably being the treat the exact same as me. Shunned by those who have never had a migraine in their life. Not everyone does this either, I’ve been lucky enough to know some great people who were so understanding about my migraines and for those I am incredibly grateful. There’s nothing worse than stressing about your jobs while you’re having a migraine, that’s definitely not going to help with recovering quickly.
This has just been one big brain fart, but the other day when I posted about having a migraine, I actually got quite a lot of stick for it. I want to help those who can’t speak for themselves and help them understand that migraines are very serious, and very much can’t be helped.
So next time someone tells you they have a migraine, understand that they’re going through possibly the worst pain they’ve experienced.
Give them space and leave them to it. If they’re off work, understand it’s for a reason. I tried to work through migraines and people wouldn’t stop pestering me and as much as they were being polite, all I wanted was to be left alone. We do appreciate the sympathy, so I know that’s more welcome than a disgusting look of disbelief and thinking i’m hungover.