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Wellness, Mind

How I Deal With My Chronic Migraines

It’s not all in your head.

3/7/2021 11:00:00 PM

It’s not all in your head.

Three women share the treatments that actually bring them relief.

Rosemary Donahue, 32"I've had migraines since I was a young teenager. The pain is a dull thrum as if someone is practicing the cello, but they’ve never had a lesson in their life. It’s like they are pulling the strings of my head."A lot of the time, my migraines are about tension. I’ll get really tight in my jaw or neck. So I use a tennis ball and roll it on those spots. Around my desk at home, I have a few different Post-it notes that say things like 'unclench your jaw' or 'relax your shoulders.' These little reminders help ease some of the tension.

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"So does Botox.I get injectionsin my temples, down the sides of my head, behind my ears, at the base of my skull, down the back of my neck, and on my shoulders. It’s usually around 40 shots. It sucks, but I would much rather get Botox every three months and have fewer headaches. I find that I metabolize it in about two and a half months, and then my headaches start to come back. When that happens, I feel really grateful because I’m like, 'Oh, I used to live like this all the time.' I’ve been getting Botox for a couple of years now, but even still, [my migraines and headaches] go up and down all the time.

"It can be really hard to be your own advocate, and it’s part of our culture to not use sick days unless there’s something physically blocking us. But I think we should allow ourselves time to rest when our bodies tell us to. Sometimes the pain is your body’s way of saying, 'You have been through a lot.' There’s strength in accepting that you don’t always have to power through your pain." headtopics.com

AdvertisementMore on Botox for migraines:Botox can help prevent pain signals from traveling from the peripheral sensory nerves to the pain centers in the brain. But it’s only FDA-approved for chronic migraine patients. "I recommend this to patients who have at least 15 headache days a month, of which at least eight have features associated with migrainous symptoms, such as sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, and worsening pain with activity," says

, a neurologist specializing in headaches and assistant professor of clinical neurology at Weill Cornell Medicine. Botox can help reduce frequency, severity, and other life-affecting symptoms of migraines such as vertigo and numbness, she adds.Didi Gluck, 49

"I have a family history. I grew up watching my mom get menstrual migraines. So when I started getting them after the birth of my first child, I knew right away what was happening. It feels like there’s an ice pick jamming into the upper part of the orbital bone of my right eye. It’s intense pain accompanied by intense nausea.

"Some people tell me that it’s stress-induced, but I’ve been on vacation and had migraines. There’s a stereotype that it’sjust a bad headacheand you need to relax, but anyone who’s had a migraine can tell you it is not. They’re complex and multifactorial. Mine tend to be triggered by low-pressure weather. If a big rain passes through, and I’m about to get my period, and I haven’t slept well, and I maybe had a glass of white wine, it’s a recipe for inducing a migraine. headtopics.com

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"What gets me through is knowing that it does go away. A triptan medication [a typeof drug that stimulates specific serotonin receptors to help stop a migraine attack]has helped lessen how long they last and the severity, but it hasn’t taken them away. When you get on a good drug regimen, it feels very empowering. You’re an active participant in your health as opposed to just [feeling like] 'I’m a victim of migraines.'

"Every single doctor I’ve been to, and my mom, have all said menopause is going to be my best friend. [After] 17 years of getting migraines, I can’t see the downside to menopause. I’m like, 'Bring it on!'"AdvertisementHow your daily routine can trigger migraines:

Photophobia — increased sensitivity to light — is a common feature of migraines. For some, according to Masters-Israilov, proactively wearing blue light glasses (eyewear with lenses that filter high-energyblue lightthat can be emitted by screens) when using devices like a computer or phone can help, since the glasses block certain wavelengths that can be especially bothersome to migraine patients.

Read more: Allure »

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