Steps Along the Migraine Journey

Tammy Rome | May 19th 2017

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Each of us has a unique Migraine story. Life with Migraine can be described as a process of self-discovery in which we learn more about ourselves and the impact of Migraine in our lives. This process includes several steps we may experience along the way. See if you can identify which steps are part of your Migraine journey.

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Blissful ignorance

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Pre-migraine life is one of blissful ignorance. Free from the disruptions of Migraine, we may only have a vague understanding based on the experiences of others. We may even believe some of the myths about Migraine.

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Rude awakening

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Suddenly, everything changes. Migraine hijacks our lives. We protest the unfairness of this suffering and desperately search for answers. We submit to numerous medical tests only to be told there is nothing wrong. We struggle to accept that migraine is an incurable neurological disease.

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Basic training

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In our pursuit of relief, we finally meet a doctor who truly understands Migraine. Our basic training begins as we learn how to keep a Migraine diary. We discover our triggers and ways to avoid them. At this point, we start trying preventive treatments, too.

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Over time, we get discouraged as one treatment after another fails to bring relief. We tell ourselves that we’ve “tried everything” and “nothing works.” Our doctor may say that we’ve run out of options. We believe this and give up. Depression sets in and our support system begins to fail.

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Going rogue

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Feeling abandoned by our doctors, we may consider complementary and alternative treatments. The appeal of natural treatments with fewer side effects becomes irresistible. We may seek care outside of mainstream medicine, hoping the answer can be found in nature. Sooner or later, we discover that even natural treatments don’t produce the lasting results we seek. Some are too expensive or too difficult to continue long-term.

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We grow tired of fighting and desperately search for a permanent solution. We may even consider surgical options and treatments with little evidence of benefit. We rationalize trying almost anything for just a bit of relief. In our minds, these options were our last resort. Without a good outcome, we may find ourselves adrift, wondering if we’re doomed to a life of misery.

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Those lucky enough to weather the storm of desperation do so by discovering the warrior within. Determined to find answers and a purpose, we pick ourselves up and start over again. With our fighting spirit renewed, we return to mainstream medicine with laser-like focus.

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Taking charge

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Taking ownership of Migraine, we become experts, not only of our own experience, but of Migraine in general. Quick fixes and sensational headlines no longer entice us. We stop accepting the lie that “nothing can be done” by hiring those doctors best suited to work with us. With no illusions of a cure, we strive to live life as best we can. We enlist help from many sources, not out of desperation, but from a renewed sense of hope.

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Acceptance begins when we stop trying to eradicate Migraine and discover ways to accommodate its presence in our everyday lives. We haven’t given up trying to reduce its impact and we still hope for a cure. The difference is that we’re no longer consumed with anger, bitterness, or a desire for revenge against this unseen foe. We make peace with migraine

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Paying it forward

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Even fewer choose to pick up the mantle of advocacy. Advocates create meaning and purpose by helping others who are stuck, lost, and in pain. Migraine becomes a positive force that drives them. Not every patient will become an advocate. Those who do have transformed their experience with Migraine disease into a positive force to empower others.

NEXT: 10 Tips for Effective Migraine Management Goals