This post isn’t my typical blog post; instead, I’m writing to share the invisible (and silent) illness I’ve been living with the past ten months in hopes to shed some light.
I’ll never forget my first migraine. I was in the fourth grade, and all of a sudden, words started disappearing from the page I was reading. I told my teacher and went to the school nurse who instantly told me I didn’t have a migraine because “I was too young.”
The nurse called my mom (who also used to suffer from migraines), and my mom told her to send me home immediately.
I’ll never forget that distinct feeling: like a brick was strapped to my head, and my eyes refused to work.
Seemingly out of nowhere, they began one summer afternoon. Corbin and I were amid wedding planning (a stressful time, of course) and all of a sudden, I couldn’t see as usual, but there was no pain.
A notable difference than my past migraines, however, is that I continue to experience my “new” migraines with no pain.
Sounds confusing, right? Instead, my eyes feel like something else is controlling them.
Words disappear, faces begin to look foreign, and sometimes, I can’t see below eye-level. It’s hard to explain this phenomenon to someone only familiar with the pain-inducing migraines that force you to bed, or someone who has never had a migraine at all.
It’s like I experience the aura “symptom” of a traditional migraine, but that’s it.
Yes, I’ve had my eyes checked (just last week, actually) and everything looks normal and healthy.
In a few episodes, I’ve lost sensation in my left hand and arm, and a bout of vertigo has reared its not-so-lovely head.
After a migraine episode has passed, my speech feels impacted, almost like it’s hard for me to recall words or look people in the eyes because I’m embarrassed at the struggle that I feel reeling in my mind.
Most of the time, I feel pretty damn nauseous because anything that affects your eyesight will quickly do that to you.
I feel anxious, tired, and like I want to curl up in a ball for the next twelve hours.
So, sometimes, I do.
I experience a migraine on average of 0-4 times a week and they cause me to cancel plans, move meetings at the last minute, and bail on commitments because I feel so exhausted: mentally and physically.
Here’s the thing: migraines, in general, are totally invisible, and mine are silent due to the lack of pain.
The most frustrating part is that what I’m experiencing is not something you “feel better” from after a day of rest.
Sure, the day of rest will help an episode that’s already occurring, but it’s not going to fix or cure anything in the long-term. Finding my trigger will be the only thing to help, and that’s not going so well (more on that below).
It doesn’t take the episode away that will hit unexpectedly when I wake up on the beaches in Tulum after nine hours of sleep or when I’m out camping and wholly disconnected from the digital world.
It doesn’t take away the episode that will happen when I sit down to work or the episode that will strike when I’m driving on the highway (yes, that has happened).
Resting gets me so far right now, and that concept is fucking hard for me to wrap my brain around.
I wish I knew.
After speaking with my neurologist, she also agrees there is no clear pattern to when or why my episodes strike. I can be in different parts of my cycle, different countries, different seasons, and different times of the day.
I (rarely) eat gluten and dairy, I don’t drink caffeine, and I consume, on average, about 1-2 alcoholic drinks per month.
And no, I’m not stressed. Sure, this illness has created more stress in my life, but stress isn’t present on a day-to-day basis.
I sleep eight glorious hours a night without interruption.
My menstrual cycle is regular, and fertility hormones are all “normal.”
I limit my screen time. I supplement with high-quality supplements under the direction of my naturopath.
I work out regularly. I take it easy.
I eat organic food and avoid 90% of meat. I drink a shit-ton of water.
The products in our home are all non-toxic and fragrance-free.
My husband is loving and supportive. I love my work, my job, and my life.
I’ve worked with (and continue to work) a network chiropractor who focuses on adjusting the nervous system. That work has taken the frequency of my migraines down drastically, and I am so grateful.
And yet, no trigger has been discovered.
My neurologist told me I might have to chalk it up to the fact my migraines could be genetic (which I don’t believe is a sufficient answer), but I’ll be undergoing an MRI to help get a clearer picture of what’s happening inside my brain.
Thankfully, I’ve found a few tools that will calm the visual part of the episode within a few minutes: doTERRA PastTense, Soul Addict, and a shot of Mycratine.
Once those tools have been implemented, I’m left with my migraine “hangover” of nausea, confusion, and exhaustion.
Until I have more answers, I’m focusing on being really honest with myself and with others around how I’m feeling and what I need in each moment.
The random pattern and intensity with which my migraines strike force me to stop sugar-coating things and to be very open about what I’m going through moment-to-moment.
It’s been a learning experience and, honestly, I’m grateful to be a student of these lessons.
I’ve worked on shifting my mindset from, “Why is this happening to me?” to, “What can this teach me?”
Above all, to those dealing with chronic pain, fatigue, or illness – I see you.
I feel you so hard, sister. Keep doing great things and don’t ever question if it’s okay to put yourself (and your health) first.
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