In a book I once read, one woman told another woman (with regards to having her first orgasm), “When you have one, you’ll know.” This pretty much sums up how I feel about migraines: when you have one, you’ll know!
Granted, for a long time, ‘migraines’ were listed on my medical records – and I had no recollection of how they got there. In my opinion, I’d never had a migraine. I just got bad headaches every once in awhile – headaches that made my temples pulse, my face flush and my eyes wince at bright lights.
However, as The Migraine Trust writes, migraines are “more than ‘just a headache.'” Once I reached college, I began to sense that there was something wrong with my headaches. When I got headaches, the only way I felt better was to turn out all the lights and block out all sound. Even if I took painkillers, the headaches never went away until the next morning, often inspiring me to go to bed early with the hopes my headaches would subside sooner.
What are migraines?
The major reason I never realized I had migraines was that I didn’t understand the difference between migraine with aura and migraine without aura. I used to think there was just one kind of migraine, where people experience unusual visual disturbances, get dizzy or experience nausea and/or vomiting. In reality, I’m describing a migraine with aura, which is only one half of what it means to have a migraine.
My migraines take the form of migraine without aura, which is the most common type of migraine. In fact, 70-90% of patients who experience migraines experience migraines without aura – meaning migraines are often far less extreme in nature than we’re taught to expect as kids!
Migraines encompass a wide variety of symptoms. They may occur on just one side of the head or all over. They may cause visual or auditory sensitivity, or even diarrhea, nausea or vomiting. Regardless, migraines are NOT glamorous. They’re something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
My personal migraines occur once or twice a month, usually when I’m on my period (or just after I go off it). When they occur, I get a throbbing pain between my eyes – one that feels as though it’s coming from my inner skull. I become sensitive to light and sound, and often have to wear sunglasses indoors to subside the pain.
How to feel better….
Many of us who live with migraines have resigned ourselves to the fact that most migraines will subsist on their own. In other words: when in doubt, ride it out! Oftentimes, the only thing that helps a migraine is sleep – or even time. After a couple hours, you may find that the symptoms have subsided, or even disappeared altogether.
Yet having migraines doesn’t mean you should have to suffer through the pain of them. While they may not disappear entirely, you can relieve your migraines with some simple, natural remedies. For example, you could try the following:
Essential oils. A rollerball of carrier oil with essential oils in it can help soothe migraines, particularly when applied to the temples. Try lavender or eucalyptus for a clearing, soothing effect that relieves stress and anxiety.
Magnesium. Some doctors swear that 400-600 mg of magnesium supplementation per day wards off migraines with aura and menstrual-related migraines.
Tinted glasses. Silly as it may sound, wearing sunglasses indoors may actually relieve visual symptoms related to migraines. In fact, some brands sell tinted glasses specially designed to relieve photosensitivity caused by migraines.
Hot and cold. Strange, but true: the juxtaposition of hot and cold helps dilate blood vessels, potentially relieving the pain of a migraine. Some doctors recommend laying in a hot bath with an ice pack on your forehead to ward off migraines.
Acupressure. Perhaps the most mysterious remedy of all, acupressure may have curative effects on migraines! Try massaging the space between your left thumb and index finger for gentle, effective relief.