Migraines: Things that help

Today I thought I’d share the things that help (me) when I have a migraine. I have chronic migraine, which means I have more than 15 days of migraine per month, luckily, some of the days it doesn’t get too bad, but the consultant said these are still migraines.

These things don’t always work, and are definitely more effective if I use them when I first feel the migraine coming on. If it goes to full blown migraine, the only thing I can do is take my meds, sleep and hope!

1. Migrastick

This little thing is great! It is peppermint and lavender oil in a glass tube with a roller ball. I put it on my temples as this is where my migraines start, sometimes I put it near my jaw or the back of my neck too as I often get migraines when I am stressed and clench my jaw. I wouldn’t say it makes a migraine go away, but it reduces the pain for me. And if I’m early enough, sometimes it does turn into a full migraine. Handy tip: don’t let it go anywhere near your eyes! It hurts! You can buy the Migrastick online or in shops like Holland & Barrett.

2. My migraine pillow

This sounds strange I know, but I have a pillow which i always use when I have a migraine. I have had the cushion forever, but I call it my “migraine pillow”. It is one that you can sink into and the cover stays quite cool. My regular pillow is quite firm so it is nice to have a soft pillow to sink into when my head hurts!

3. Mindfulness

Again, never going to stop a migraine, but if it is right at the beginning it can prevent it and if not it can reduce it a little. I know that a lot of my migraines are stress induced so that’s probably why mindfulness helps. It makes me focus on my breathing instead of the pain and I relax all my muscles. I am a very tense person and find this can cause more migraines, especially tension in the jaw, neck and shoulders. I use an app called Stop, Breathe and Think. I have talked about this before in my post about mindfulness – A month of mindfulness!  and Mindfulness: update

4. Sleep

Unsurprisingly, sleep is one of the things that helps most when I have a migraine. A dark, quiet room is best. I snuggle into my duvet, use my migraine pillow, maybe listen to a (quiet) mindfulness meditation, and hope that when I get up, the nasty migraine will be gone.

5. Medication

It would be a total lie not to mention medication on this list. I previously used medication too much due to the frequency of my migraines, so now I have to be careful about when I take it. My doctor said a maximum of 10 times per month so I am sticking to that. I have become a good judge of when I need the medication (when it reaches 6/10 in pain) and when it is manageable without medication. I take sumatriptan, a medication available on prescription, and it is incredible. It usually works in less than an hour for me!

I hope this might help some others, as I am fully aware of how debilitating migraines are. I’ve had them since I was about 13 and the frequency has continued to increase as I’ve got older. I will being seeing the migraine consultant again this week so may have another update soon!

Do you have any tips or things that help you with migraines? Let me know as I’m always looking for new things to try!

Love,

Ellie xx

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Back to reality

I went away for a few days with my best friend. We had a nice time and it took my mind off things. But now I’m back to reality… it’s horrible.

I feel lost and lonely and so tired. I am back to work today and it’s the last thing I want to do. Sigh.

People keep telling me things will get better but at the moment it’s all so new and raw. I don’t like reality. I want to stick my head in the sand like an ostrich. Only problem is, I’d have to come up for air eventually…

Love,

Ellie xx

Realisations and pain

I feel so broken. I’ve come to lots of realisations this week about my behaviour and my relationship with S.

I took him from granted. I relied on him way too much, to the point that I can’t regulate my emotions myself. I can’t self soothe because I never had to. And that dependency was something I learned from my previous relationship, the ex really broke me down so I lost all my confidence and ability to look after myself. That’s a long time ago now but it still has its effects. He wanted me to be dependent on him because that’s how he controlled me. Unfortunately I transferred this dependency onto S and I never realised until this week how serious and negative that was.

It’s hard for me to know what to do now; I feel lost. I don’t have a very good sense of self (another thing to thank the ex for!) I find it hard to know who I am and I tend to define myself by my relationships (a daughter, a sister, previously – a girlfriend) and my job, because I don’t know how else to do it. So now one of my major identities is gone, lost.

Unfortunately I think it’s one of “those too little too late” moments or “you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone” type things. I would give anything to turn back time and deal with things differently, but I can’t so I am going to have to live with it and try and learn from it.

I know my faults – I am very emotional and not good at regulating emotions, I get angry and lose control of my temper, I overreact and I get carried away with my thoughts, making up explanations which are usually wildly wrong. I put myself down constantly and have no confidence, I rely on others for my happiness. I pushed S away, and yet pulled him back, over and over (my therapist described it as the “I hate you. Don’t leave me” phenomenon). And all of it makes sense given my history, but none of it is S’ fault. None of it can be changed by anyone but me.

There is so much work for me to do on myself. Work I was hoping to continue while in the relationship with S, but plans have changed and I’m on my own now to work it all out. I’m glad that I’m still having counselling as this is helpful. I need to work on myself so that I never end up in this ridiculous situation again.

Feeling quite reflective today. Now it’s time for bed.

Love, Ellie xx

And then I remember

I see things that remind me of you,

A meme, and I go to tag you,

A bad day, and I go to tell you,

Then I remember, I can’t anymore.

The pain is intense and it burns inside,

I go to sleep crying again and again,

I wake up feeling like everything is ok,

Then I remember, you left.

People say time heals everything,

They tell me things happen for a reason,

But I lost you and now I’m lost,

And then I remember the good times.

The happy memories we shared

Still bring a smile to my face,

They still make me laugh like they did,

And then I remember, there won’t be any more.

Mindfulness: update

If you’ve read my last post you will know things are pretty bad at the moment. They got worse actually, as my grandma is now in hospital.

I’m trying to focus on the positive and all that because moving around isn’t helping. I’ve been doing a lot of crying and getting dehydrated which leads to headaches so trying to drink more water!

Also, today I hit 50 days in a row of mindfulness! This is the longest streak I have ever done and I feel proud. I do it now because I want to, not just because I know it’s meant to be good for me.

I have a routine, every morning when I wake up, I press snooze on my sunrise alarm clock and then put a mindfulness meditation on. I usually only do about 5 minutes but I think it’s a good start to the day.

Sometimes I do another one in the evening, especially if my mind is full and won’t let me sleep. I also sometimes use it at other times if I am feeling particularly stressed or anxious, or having scary thoughts.

I’m pretty proud that despite the week I have had, I have still managed to keep up with my mindfulness. And for a few minutes I have peace and I don’t feel like the world has ended.

Take care everyone.

Love, Ellie xx

It all fell apart

After 6 years, it’s over. Me and S split up and I feel awful. I feel sick. My world is turned upside down. It’s all broken.

Even the one thing I thought was stable turned out not to be. This has been a pretty shitty year. Diagnosis of fibro, worsening of depression again and now this.

I don’t know how to feel safe now. There are no guarantees in life, and I took him for granted. I leaned on him too much and eventually it got too much and he couldn’t cope with me anymore. And the worst thing is I’m losing my best friend in the world. Why?

The evolution of my depression

When I first got diagnosed with depression and anxiety, it was very much trauma related and I had flashbacks, nightmares, the whole shebang… (there were also mentions of PTSD from the Psych, which I am sure I did have). I was lost and depressed and I didn’t know who I was. My abusive relationship had taken my identity and confidence and buried them somewhere far far away. 

Fast forward over 6 years to today, I have dealt with a lot of the trauma. I still get triggered occasionally, but not multiple times a day like previously, and now I can walk down the street at home without being scared, and I can drive past the road sign that says the place name where he lived… all that “normal” stuff that used to be so hard and triggering for me. 

Now I have a different problem, my migraines and pain and fatigue have spiralled out of control. I wouldn’t say my depression ever completely went, but it was much more manageable, now I find a lot of my negative thoughts and depression and anxiety are around the pain/fatigue.

 I feel hopeless because I know that neither my migraines or fibro are curable (the consultants are aiming to help me reduce rather than cure the migraines, and to manage the pain and fatigue of fibro.)

Some days when the pain is bad or the migraines are bad and persistent, I find myself questioning the point of my life. Sometimes I feel like there’s no way I want to live like this for another 60+ years. 

My biggest fears are now that I won’t be able to do things. This week has been hard, it has taken everything I have to get to work and do my job, and it’s only Wednesday. It makes me wonder how long I will be able to work full time for? How long before I have to give up my dream of being a clinical psychologist (training, if I ever get into it, would be intense and fulltime – balancing placements, studies and research)? I am going on a really exciting trip next year with the scouts, and I am terrified that I won’t be able to actually go. The aim of the trip is to build a large structure so will involve a lot of physical activity and it is at altitude.

Clearly I am not feeling very positive today. Some days I do, most days I don’t. It is hard for me to accept the way that my conditions are affecting my life, and that they will always affect me. I always had the hope the one day I would overcome my anxiety and depression, but this is different, I know that this won’t go away. And actually even my psychiatrist said that we are working to manage my symptoms as I have chronic depression. Pretty crap.

Ok, negative post done. I am working on something more positive which I hope to post in early December – I am trying yoga this month. Also, I have a physio appointment tomorrow and they are going to give me an exercise plan for graded exercise therapy as treatment for fibro. I’m really hoping it will be helpful! Will probably write a post about it to keep you updated!

Love, 

Ellie xx

 

The evolution of my depression

When I first got diagnosed with depression and anxiety, it was very much trauma related and I had flashbacks, nightmares, the whole shebang… (there were also mentions of PTSD from the Psych, which I am sure I did have). I was lost and depressed and I didn’t know who I was. My abusive relationship had taken my identity and confidence and buried them somewhere far far away. 

Fast forward over 6 years to today, I have dealt with a lot of the trauma. I still get triggered occasionally, but not multiple times a day like previously, and now I can walk down the street at home without being scared, and I can drive past the road sign that says the place name where he lived… all that “normal” stuff that used to be so hard and triggering for me. 

Now I have a different problem, my migraines and pain and fatigue have spiralled out of control. I wouldn’t say my depression ever completely went, but it was much more manageable, now I find a lot of my negative thoughts and depression and anxiety are around the pain/fatigue.

 I feel hopeless because I know that neither my migraines or fibro are curable (the consultants are aiming to help me reduce rather than cure the migraines, and to manage the pain and fatigue of fibro.)

Some days when the pain is bad or the migraines are bad and persistent, I find myself questioning the point of my life. Sometimes I feel like there’s no way I want to live like this for another 60+ years. 

My biggest fears are now that I won’t be able to do things. This week has been hard, it has taken everything I have to get to work and do my job, and it’s only Wednesday. It makes me wonder how long I will be able to work full time for? How long before I have to give up my dream of being a clinical psychologist (training, if I ever get into it, would be intense and fulltime – balancing placements, studies and research)? I am going on a really exciting trip next year with the scouts, and I am terrified that I won’t be able to actually go. The aim of the trip is to build a large structure so will involve a lot of physical activity and it is at altitude.

Clearly I am not feeling very positive today. Some days I do, most days I don’t. It is hard for me to accept the way that my conditions are affecting my life, and that they will always affect me. I always had the hope the one day I would overcome my anxiety and depression, but this is different, I know that this won’t go away. And actually even my psychiatrist said that we are working to manage my symptoms as I have chronic depression. Pretty crap.

Ok, negative post done. I am working on something more positive which I hope to post in early December – I am trying yoga this month. Also, I have a physio appointment tomorrow and they are going to give me an exercise plan for graded exercise therapy as treatment for fibro. I’m really hoping it will be helpful! Will probably write a post about it to keep you updated!

Love, 

Ellie xx

 

A month of mindfulness! 

I think I have mentioned before that I use mindfulness meditation to help me manage my anxiety/depression/stress etc. 

Today I am really proud to say, I did mindfulness meditation every day in October! I try to do one in the morning before I get up and one before I go to sleep, just 5 minutes each time. I have been doing mindfulness on and off for a long time, but 31 days is the longest I have ever done in a row (32 now as I am carrying on into November!)

I use an app called Stop, Breathe and Think, it has a variety of different meditations, I tend to use the “welcoming the day” and “falling asleep” ones mostly, but there are lots of different ones. My favourite one is probably “relax, ground and clear” because the second half of it is about imagining you are on top of a mountain, and I find that really relaxing. 

There are lots of other mindfulness apps too – Headspace is another good one. You can also find meditation CDs in charity shops or MP3s online, lots of options!

Some days I struggle through my meditation, my mind keeps drifting away and I long for the gong to mark the end of it. Other days, when it finishes I feel like a weight has lifted. But I am persevering, and I want to extend it a bit and do some longer meditations. 

My 5 top tips for meditations would be:

1. Stick with it. You may feel silly at first. You may struggle to keep your mind on the words. But keep trying and in time you can learn to engage with your breath and focus on the current moment. 

2. Make it a routine. Now I know that when my alarm goes off in the morning, the first thing I do is put a meditation on. Whenever you choose, stick to that time every day and before you know it you will have a habit!

But…

3. Don’t stress if you miss a day. I am guilt of this one! In the past, if I missed a day I lost my motivation and would forget about mindfulness for a while. The app I use keeps track of the number of days in a row that you meditate, it’s great to see how many in a row I have done, but I have now learned to accept that sometimes I will lose my streak, I can just start again.

4. Leave your expectations to one side. Mindfulness is all about being in the moment, and instead of engaging with every thought you are meant to acknowledge the thoughts without judging them, and let them pass. It’s the same with expectations – maybe you think it’s a load of rubbish and won’t make a difference? Put that to the side and give it a try. Maybe you’re hoping it will change your life and be your saviour? Put that to the side too. The likelihood is that mindfulness is either of those extremes, but it might give you something positive. 

5.  Find something that suits you. When I started trying mindfulness I tried a lot of different apps. They all have different styles, different voices, different accents, different types of meditations. I think it’s really important that you find a voice you can engage with as it would be difficult to fully connect to the meditation if you are constantly thinking how annoying the voice is! 

Let me know if you give it a go! Does mindfulness help you?

Love,

Ellie xx

These thoughts are not normal 

Trigger warning: suicidal thoughts and ideas 
At work I discovered that my thoughts are not normal. For a long time I’ve had these kind of thoughts… whenever there is a potential thing that could harm/kill me, I think about it, like:

When I am waiting on the platform for a tube/train, my brain goes “I could just jump in front of it”

Or when there’s a car speeding down the road and I’m on the pavement, “I could just step out”

Or a bridge, “I could jump off it”

Or when my psychiatrist mentioned that certain drugs aren’t used much now because they are potent as an overdose “I’ve got loads at home, I could take it all”

You get the picture…

And I’ve been living with these thoughts for a long time, so long that it has become “normal” to me. It’s horrible actually, because the thoughts are really intrusive, overpowering and they steal all of my attention at that time. 

But these aren’t really suicidal thoughts as such, are they? I have them too, but these are more like things that I could do, rather than me wanting to do them.

Anyway, so a client described these thoughts to me at work yesterday, and I thought shit! I have thoughts like that. That is not normal, not safe, not good!

Somehow hearing it out loud from someone else made me realise that it may be my normal, but it’s not “normal”.

Stay safe lovely readers! Just to clarify, I am in no way planning to act on any of these thoughts, this post is just reflecting on them/the situation. 

Love, ellie xx