Sunday, January 13, 2013
Living with Chronic Migraines (By Logan Lentini)
When most people hear the term “migraine” they just think of a simple headache; what they don't know is how much they can affect you. Living with chronic migraines is a constant struggle. Now I'm not referring to those who can take a pill at the onset of the headache and it magically goes away, but rather the people like me who have to endure and attempt to overcome the pain after multiple medical treatments (pills, shots, infusions, and biofeedback). It is these people who are most affected by chronic migraines. Not only do they affect your ability to function, but they also affect your social life and you're disposition on just about everything. I personally was diagnosed with chronic migraine at the age of five years old. I have been able to manage them fairly well up until the last few years. I am now sixteen years old and these migraines have been becoming harder and harder to manage. We do not know why I am getting them, but we do know that they are limiting my life immensely.
Hypersensitivity, this word solely explains why functioning with a migraine is such an arduous task. By definition, hypersensitivity is described as being "abnormally or excessively sensitive, either psychologically or in physical response." Though it is difficult for a migraine to cause someone to be psychologically hypersensitive it is possible, and we will get back to this later on, as this concept of hypersensitivity is why migraines are so debilitating. It is this hypersensitive nature that makes every task difficult, due to the fact that every one of your five senses becomes about one thousand times stronger. Take reading for instance, this simple activity becomes harder not only because your eyes hurt to the point of even closing them isn't easy, but also because you need light to read and light can make your migraine even worse. And forget about trying to do something that involves noise because this noise will make your head begin pounding to the point where you can feel your pulse inside your head. On top of that smells can often make a headache worse, and laying your head down may be difficult as well due to the pressure being applied to your skull. Even eating can be unpleasant at times, just because the taste in combination with the smell and the chewing motion your jaw makes could easily elevate you pain.
This hypersensitivity can also dictate your social life. As previously stated, when one has a migraine normal tasks become extremely difficult and not worth doing. Taking this into consideration, you can understand how these migraines can control your social life, especially in my case where they can last months at a time. When I have migraines, the last thing I want is to be around people. I know this sounds bad, but think about it, what if they're wearing really strong perfume or cologne? What if they're excessively loud? Then my migraine will elevate, and potentially put me out of commission for even longer. In addition, social activity is generally in a well-lit setting, where there is noise anyway and various smells in the air, all things that make a headache worse. Due to this, I literally isolate myself in my bedroom where it is pitch black and dead silent. Here I can control all headache-inducing-factors, and potentially relieve my pain. Though this is unlikely under many circumstances, it is still possible.
Here is where the psychological hypersensitivity comes in play. In my personal situation, where I have these chronic migraines for up to several months, my moral begins to fall. Now I'm generally an optimistic person, I have my bad days just like the rest of us, but I tend to have a very positive outlook. However after having to endure the pain that comes along with migraines for weeks at a time, I become pretty negative. The simplest problems that are easily fixed I might add, set me off. And after a while I just become apathetic; I don't even care anymore and just suffer, trying to accept that it may be a long time before I get to experience a headache free lifestyle. This was when I was at my lowest point though, like I previously said I am a very optimistic person.
The purpose for me writing this is not to ask for your pity, that's the last thing I want. I just want people to understand what I go through and to raise awareness for migraines being what they are, instead of their mislabeled definition as a really bad headache. Migraines are far more than this and that is what I want people to know.