The 10 Major Life Changes That Helped Me Conquer My Migraines – Part 1

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I started suffering from migraines around the age of 24, having had a history of frequent headaches since I was in school, it actually took me a while to realize that what I was suffering from was no longer just mere headaches. I only realized they developed into migraines when one day a headache grew in intensity so fast, that my regular painkillers wouldn’t fix it, I could barely open my eyes and felt an urge to gauge my eyes out to relieve the pressure, tears were streaming down my face involuntarily, and I was barely able to drive myself to the hospital. After the doctor examined me, he gave me the confirmed diagnosis of migraine, and that’s when my journey started.

At first I thought, ok I can live with this, many people suffer from it. But the migraines started to take over my life gradually. They became a daily struggle and limited my productivity at my job and my side business. I started going to different neurologists, and all would say the same: you have a classic case of migraine, you need to take daily pills to manage it for the rest of your life. I eventually gave in and was prescribed with Inderal, a beta-blocker that affects the heart and blood circulation in arteries and veins. It actually was a perfect fix, cause when I tried to stop it, within weeks my migraines would come back.

The thought of committing to a medication for the rest of my life when I was just in my twenties wasn’t exactly my dream life, so a year later I started to explore beyond that prescription.

I started going to more doctors in different fields, researching online further, and asking other migraine fellow sufferers about what worked and didn’t work for them. With all the acquired and newly accumulated knowledge, I’ve transformed my life to a new lifestyle that surprisingly not only eliminated migraines, but headaches as well! Well, to the maximum extent possible at least.

Here is what I learned and my changes:

  1. Migraine is a condition in which the veins at the back of the brain are very sensitive and any issue can cause it to tighten quickly and result in a migraine. Migraine is more common among women than men with a ratio of 3:1 (female migraineurs to male.)
  2. Headache often goes away within few hours with the aid of off-the-counter painkillers, while migraine is an intense headache that often takes over half the face (and can reach to the neck), and lasts for days regardless of how much painkillers you take.
  3. With the migraine being attributed to the sensitive veins at the back of the head, maintaining a routine of lifestyle helps manage its tantrums (migraine attacks). By routine I don’t mean boring life, I mean a continuously stable rhythm of fixed sleeping times and eating times. This made perfect sense to me cause majority of my migraines at the time used to come on weekends, and I used to laughingly say that my brain isn’t used to rest, but with this explanation it made sense cause I slept longer in the morning, and skipped breakfast and had earlier lunch. From the day I ensured I almost always stick to same waking up and sleeping times, and maintain fixed meal times, the beautiful cold breeze in my brain was definitely worth it.
  4. Migraine has triggers, could be psychological, emotional, and could be some dietary items.
    • The most known and common dietary triggers are: cheese, chocolate, and coffee. And what a hallelujah moment it was when I finally knew that. The day I cut out cheese of my life my migraines reduced tremendously! I didn’t believe it at first, so after a week of the boycott I dared the devil and had cheese in my breakfast, it was a matter of half an hour before my brain started to burn and my neck got stiffened with pain. I also had the occasions where friends or family (who refused to believe this is true) would feed me something that has cheese and wouldn’t tell me so, and then again, in a matter of less than an hour I can’t open my eyes and my head is burning and a migraine was in action.
      Coffee and chocolate aren’t as a heavy trigger for me as cheese, but having more than couple of coffee cups in a day, or some chocolate overdose guarantee a migraine attack. Some people have different dietary triggers, so it’s worth keeping a food journal in which you log in everything you eat in a day, and mark the days you got the migraine, then mark the common factors in those days.
    • Psychological and emotional: needless to say, with almost every disease and illness the doctor will always tell you avoid stress and try to relax. Which honestly used to drive me crazy, cause how on earth can I manage the stress levels in my life. But, sometimes you can. I started doing some yoga classes during the early phases of this discovery, which taught me how to relax through breathing and taking it slow, and taught me the basic art of meditation. When I know I’m getting stressed out of work I try to take just few moments and close my eyes and try my best to think of absolutely nothing. Just clear my head literally of any thought. It does help bring the stress levels a little bit down. And when I open my eyes again, I try to look at near and far objects to release some of the optic pressure as well.
      I’ve learned to manage my work a little better through to-do lists and project plans and year plans, this reduced the stress on my brain that was always trying to remember every next step that I have to do in every hour of the day for the next year, having it all written down allowed me to chill a little.
    • One of the stress causes to me was my mobile! I used to sleep with my mobile on my bed just beside my pillow, and I didn’t used to put it on silent. My theory was “What if something urgent happened?”, funny part is, I never woke on its sounds of messages and calls anyway. But I would wake everyday with a throbbing headache. Apparently the sounds during sleep affect the brain’s ability to relax during night, and the electromagnetic waves emitted from the phone were horrible in everyway. I now sleep with my phone on silent, on the bedside table.
    • And most importantly, I started to shrink down my friends circles, you’d be surprised how many people in your life no matter how much you cared for them, they just drained your energy down, and always wanted more of your time, which just doesn’t help the brain to relax.
  1. Before I was able to manage the stress in my life, I used to have a major jaw clenching issue. Clenching though is often an unconscious stress coping mechanism during sleep time, and sometimes during the day, but it’s so unconscious that unless someone tells you you’re doing it, or in my case, your dentist discovers it from the state your teeth are in, you might never notice. That too, I only discovered when someone suggested I ask my dentist if she can spot a cause of my migraines. She directly checked my teeth and confirmed I have a clenching issue, and molded a night guard that fits my jaw structure, which I had to pick up few days later. I had to wear my night guards during the night to protect my jaw from the clenching, which used to press on certain nerves that cause the stress to reach my brain and cause the headaches/migraines. Gradually I was able to manage without it and only use it on days I was so stressed and knew I would unconsciously clench. And now I have officially graduated into the zen life that doesn’t need it.

I’ll share with you the last 5 points tomorrow in a new blogpost. But for the time being, do you or anyone you know suffer from migraine? Do any of the points above ring a bell for you? What worked and didn’t work for your headaches and migraines?

Share the post on your social media accounts, let’s help more people manage their migraines!

One thought on “The 10 Major Life Changes That Helped Me Conquer My Migraines – Part 1

    […] I shared with you yesterday the first 5 points of how I conquered my migraines, here are the last 5 points in my journey. Hope what I learned […]

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