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!


Ellie xx


One week to go

Thought I’d check in as I haven’t been blogging so much recently, like I said, too much work!

Hope everyone is doing ok here, and once I am done with my work I will catch up on all the posts I’ve missed.

There is 1 week left of term. This time next week, I should have: handed in 4 pieces of coursework, done a german presentation, done a statistics exam and finished all lectures/seminars for 2nd year…

It’s going to be a close call and I don’t know if I will get all of that done. But I’m going to give it a damn good try. I decided I’m sick of not being able to do my work, so I’m ploughing through anyway. I probably won’t get as good grades as I am hoping for, but I’m doing my best, and right now, my best isn’t fantastic but that’s the best I can do.

I am saying this cautiously, as I don’t want to jinx things, but things seem to be looking up. I am still having lows, but also having days that are ok, good even, this week. The psychiatrist said that once I start feeling better it will be gradual, there will gradually become more good days and less bad days until ta da – you’re better!

There is definitely a long way to go before I feel better, but progress is being made. I don’t know if it’s the CBT, or the medication, a mixture of the two, or that this week has randomly been a bit better, but the point is there is hope, and things will change.

I’ll be back soon!

Lots of love,

Ellie xxx

CBT – Week 7

Yep – it’s Monday again!

In today’s session we talked about how my week has been – not good basically. And we talked about the psychiatrist, and why even though he has a plan, it made me feel hopeless because it’s going to take such a long time.

Cognitive distortions at work again – trying to predict the future. A said “do you have a crystal ball?”, which is a good point really. I am being pessimistic and assuming that the CBT and medication won’t help, and that we really will have to try every option that there is to make me feel better. It might not happen. I need to approach this from a more positive angle – they wouldn’t get me to try these things if they didn’t think they would help, and if they don’t help, there are still other options.

I said I feel like I am functioning less, because I missed quite a bit of uni last week, and phoned in sick for my volunteering. By the end of the session, A said she actually thinks it’s progress, because I am realising that I can’t/don’t have to do everything, and I am noticing when I need to take some time off. Before I would always go to uni/other commitments, no matter how bad I felt, but now I am starting to pay more attention to how I am feeling, and be a bit nicer to myself.

We also talked about my perfectionism again. I told A that I don’t think I’m going to get a first. She said “what’s the worst thing that could happen?”

Me: “I could actually fail.”

A: “Is there evidence that you are likely to fail?”

Me: “No, I probably won’t actually fail. But if I don’t get a first I will FEEL like I have failed.”

A: “But is that true? Would you have failed if you got a 2:1?”

Me: “No.”

This conversation went on, and the gist of it was that:

a) I’m angry because I am working hard, and under normal circumstances getting a first would be quite possible, yet no matter how much I try I can’t concentrate at the moment so I am not working at my best.

b) I want to get a first to prove the ex wrong. He always made me feel like I couldn’t do stuff, and I don’t want to let him ruin any more of my life. If I get a first it is a major achievement, and I will have done it without and in spite of him*.

and c) I need to change my expectations of myself, because aiming high is good, but seeing anything other than the best as a failure is not.

Then we came back to trauma stuff. Because that’s the way the session went. A asked me to give an example of a time where the ex made me feel like I couldn’t do something/that I was a failure. I couldn’t do it. I was dissociating and we used the grounding technique to bring me back to the room. It was like I felt dizzy even though I wasn’t moving, and when I shut my eyes it seemed like the world was shaking, like when you watch a home video and the camera wobbles a lot.

We then started on the retelling of the memory that I have flashbacks of a lot. Today I did it in the past tense, so it was more detached but next week I will do it in the first person present tense – “I am in my room.”

Afterwards I went to my safe space, and then at the end of the session we said goodbye until next week. We had a longer session than normal today, and A said I could stay and sit for a little while to make sure I was ok before I left.

Even just talking a bit about it today was hard, but I feel a little better for it. The memory doesn’t seem quite as scary anymore, and even though it did happen and it was horrible, it can’t hurt me anymore. I need to remember that. “What is the worst thing that could happen?” That’s a good question, and when thinking about memories, actually nothing can happen because he is no longer in my life, and he can’t hurt me anymore.

I think today was a very productive session actually. And now I’ve written this and reflected on it, I am feeling a little bit more motivated to do some work (even if I didn’t manage to make it to the gym today, and had a nap instead – oops!)

So maybe there is some hope after all!

Lots of love,

Ellie xxx

*We actually discussed this too, and A asked if I would still be proving him wrong if I got a 2:1… I guess the answer is yes.

There’s no magic wand

I knew that before. But I guess I was still hoping…

Today was my appointment with the psychiatrist that I have been waiting for for quite a while. 

I managed to get lost on the way, but found the place eventually, and even arrived on time.

We sat and talked for about an hour. He asked questions. I answered them. I cried. I cried more. 

He increased the dosage of my medication. I cried even more.

He said “There’s nothing you’ve told me that we can’t help you with” and then explained his “plan”. But I couldn’t stop crying.

He wants me to try a higher dosage for a month. If that doesn’t help, he wants me to try another antidepressant. And if that doesn’t work then he will try combining an antidepressant with an antipsychotic, which apparently can also be prescribed for depression/anxiety and can help with flash backs. He also said that after I finish my CBT, there might be other talking therapies to try.

So there are ways forward. So I should be happy? Relieved? 

I’m not. I am sad. Sad that there is nothing they can do that will help me NOW. Sad that getting better is months or years away. And sad that there wasn’t something blindingly obvious that we had missed, like another diagnosis which could be treated easily and would suddenly mean I’d get better.

I know there’s no such thing. I know it’s a long journey. I know people spend years and years fighting depression. But I want to feel better now. I could deal with ok, I don’t even need happy. I just want to be able to finish my degree, but I can’t keep going forever the way things are at the moment. 

I should be feeling more hopeful – there are things that can still be done. But instead I feel disappointed and let down. I don’t know what I was hoping for, but not this.

I just can’t stop crying.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a magic cure?

Today was a good day

Today was actually quite a good day.

I don’t want to jinx anything by saying that, but maybe, just maybe, things are looking up.

I’ve now been on lofepramine for about 3 weeks, which is about the amount of time it should take to start kicking in. And I’ve been going to CBT sessions for a few weeks now. We haven’t got very far yet, but I’ve only had 4 sessions, and we are beginning to deal with the major issues already.

Today I didn’t have a CBT session, even though it’s Monday. I think A has children, and has the week off because it’s half term, but I don’t know for sure. My next session will be next Monday instead, so I’ve had a week off. It meant that I could have a lie in this morning, so instead of leaving the house at about 8:20, I didn’t have to leave until 10:25!

Uni was alright today; I only had 2 German seminars. We were learning about German music, and phrases to say in an argument/debate. I also learnt a couple of idioms which is great because I love German idioms! 🙂

Then I actually did some work! I did my seminar reading for social psychology – and the seminar isn’t until Thursday! (This is definitely a first!) and I started my online statistics assessment which isn’t due until Friday!

I had a meeting with one of the lecturers about helping with some research, and there’s a few different projects so I get to give a preference for which I’d like to help with. I think they all sounded interesting so I would be happy to help with any of them! They are only expecting us to do about 1 hour a week, and then I can have “research assistant” on my CV! That will be really useful in the future I think!

After I got home from uni I skyped Sheep who is in Germany, and we had a nice long chat! She was very excited when I told her that S and I got back together! (She knows him too!) I am really looking forward to my holiday to Germany just after Easter! I am going to stay with Sheep for a few days and we are going to do some exploring, and lots of German things!

All in all, today was a good day! I am completely exhausted now, and I haven’t done everything I should’ve done, BUT I have done more than I normally would do, and today has been pretty anxiety-free!

It’s only 20 past 9, but I’m planning to watch eastenders, make a plan of what I’m going to do tomorrow and then get a nice early night!

I hope today has been a good day for everyone else too!

And just before I finish this post, I’m going to leave you with the picture which is now on the wall next to my desk! Guaranteed to make me smile! – I hope you like her!

Lots of love,

Ellie xxx


It’s sunny!

It’s sunny in Lancaster*, and it’s sunny in my mind**. Today there is hope.

I’m not saying I magically feel better, or even that I do feel dramatically better, but today I feel like there is hope for the future.

There is hope because I have started my CBT. There is hope because I’m trying a new medication. There is hope because at the end of the month I will see the psychiatrist. And there is hope because for the first time in a long time, I am looking forward to something.

Last night I booked some flights to Germany for during the Easter holidays. I will be going to stay with Sheep who is doing her year abroad this year! I am excited to visit the place where she is so happy, to see the sights of a part of Germany I haven’t been to before, and to spend time with one of my best friends on holiday!

Let’s hope this enthusiasm stays!

There is hope. We will all get through this!

*If you’ve ever been to Lancaster, you’ll know how unusual this is!

**And if you know me, you’ll know how unusual this is too!

6th time lucky?

I went to see my GP today. We talked about what has been going on – the screaming, feeling detached, no concentration etc.

We decided to try another medication. I’m a little unsure on this – on one hand, I’ve tried 5, why would a 6th medication make a difference? But on the other hand, it’s probably worth a try! Also, my GP said this one has been recommended for me by the psychiatrist, so if I don’t try it now, that is what he is likely to suggest when I finally have my appointment with him (at the end of February) so I may as well try it now!

The new one is called Lofepramine, which is an older type of antidepressant apparently. It will take 3 – 4 weeks to get into my system… so we will see! Has anyone tried this one?

Also I went to see the disability service at my uni today, about travel to uni from CBT (by getting the bus I am late) and possibly extra time in exams. The lady was really nice. She gave me a form to fill in to apply for disabled students allowance, and says I need to get a letter from my doctor, and then they can sort out extra time in exams, and I can do my summer exams in a smaller room (which hopefully equals less anxiety!)

This is good news! Although I will have to do a 2 hour assessment so they can see what I need and how they can help! The other annoying thing is that I have to pay for a letter from the doctor… Why do we have to pay for something which proves our own medical history?! Apparently they are around £30… so not even cheap!

So today I am feeling a little bit hopeful for the future – new medication to start tomorrow, and probably extra time in exams which might help me!

But on the other hand I’m feeling really low. The hopefulness is very small, compared to the feeling of emptiness and being really fed up. What I really want to do is hide in my room for a few days, with no responsibilities, and just rest. But no, can’t do that – life gets in the way! I am hoping to have a restful weekend though!

This morning I had a lecture at 9am, I spent a good hour arguing with myself, telling myself to get out of bed. I did it eventually, and made it to the lecture only a couple of minutes late.

This is a daily routine. Sometimes I win, sometimes the depression wins. But I am trying. My attendance isn’t perfect, but it’s not bad considering everything.

Tomorrow is another 9am, this time it’s a German seminar… can’t even sleep my way through one of those!

After that I have agreed to go to the gym with my housemate. It will be horrible, but I know it’s good for me, and afterwards hopefully I’ll feel a little better!

Now I’m off to do some german grammar exercises, then bed, and hopefully a decent night’s sleep!

Hope all my bloggy friends are doing ok! 🙂

Lots of love,

Ellie xxx


Isn’t it strange how I feel numb now.

After a year and a half of antidepressants, and now I’m off them I feel numb.

They say that some people feel numb when on antidepressants because they dull your feelings, but seems like I’m more numb without them.

Is it possible to feel numb and pain at the same time? It makes no sense. Everything feels detached. It doesn’t feel real. I just exist, and I don’t know what I’m doing.

And at the same time, my heart aches with pain.

I just don’t really feel anything.

I don’t know what I’m doing, or what I want.

I feel sad but in a detached way.

I just want to be normal.

And back down again…

**Trigger Warning – Suicidal Thoughts**

Today has not been good.

I got up (just about) and got to my 9am lecture. It was boring as hell (statistics) but I made it. Then I went to my lab, where we had to listen to her lecture for 3 hours!! Again, boring, but I made it.

I went to the doctors. I was sitting in the waiting room. There were lots of babies and young children. That was a trigger in itself. And then when some of the babies cried, I started crying too. Too many painful memories. Too many “what if”s…

By the time I got to see my doctor (over 20 minutes late) I was feeling really really rubbish.

When she asked me how I was getting in, that was it – I was off, in floods of tears (again).

I told her I’m frustrated because nothing is helping. How my mood is all over the place and is so unpredictable. About not being able to concentrate and feeling worse because of my weight. About just feeling awful.

She asked if I have people I can talk to. I do, but I don’t want to. I don’t want people knowing just how bad it is. Then they would worry. So I drip information. Different things to different people so no one knows the extent of it.

I told her I don’t want to do this anymore and I can’t see an end to this. She said that things will get better in time. I’ve given it a year and a half, and things are getting arguably worse.

I can’t tell people, my doctor included what I think about. They will just worry and I’m not worth worrying about. I can’t stop thinking about dying. Ways to die.

Everytime I see a speeding car, I’m so tempted. Seeing the frozen canal… so tempted. The tablets, the knife….

But don’t worry. Because I’m “low risk”. This is because I don’t want to hurt my friends and family. I don’t want them to have to go through my pain. So just for them, I’m still here.

But the real truth is. If it didn’t affect anyone else, I’d be dead by now. All I cling on to, all that is keeping me safe is that I don’t want to cause other people pain.

Why can’t I look after myself?

I just want something to stop the pain.

All productivity for today has gone out of the window. I’m in bed, pajamas on, stuffing my fat face with chocolate raisins and probably going to have a sleep after this.

I can’t do my work. I have so much stuff to do and I can’t do any of it.

Am I just lazy? Why can’t I do what everyone else can do?

I’m sick of getting extensions for my work. Do you really think an extra week is going to help me? No it isn’t. It’s more time, but the work is still not going to be any good. Not compared to how I could do, if I was feeling good.

I’m drowning in despair and I can’t see a way out. What am I going to do?

I’m going to let everyone down. I have a social tomorrow for the society, I don’t want to go. I have work to do; I don’t want to do it. I have lectures and seminars, and I don’t want to go. I just want this all to end. Too much pain here.

And all of this triggered from seeing a couple of babies.

I’m pathetic. I want to give up but I don’t have the guts. How pathetic is that?

Another little update

I am home from uni this weekend. This means a weekend away from uni, and getting to see the boyfriend. Also, we are going to a wedding tomorrow!

Today was results of the JCR elections, and I didn’t win. I’m disappointed (my mind says I’ve failed) but at the same time I’m relieved. I realised I’ve taken on a lot and being on the JCR would probably have been a step too far! I’m trying to argue the logical point (now I have more time for my other commitments, and it was probably taking on too much) rather than the point my brain keeps coming back to (I didn’t get it, so I failed.)

Yesterday I went back to the doctors, crying again. She doesn’t know how to help, I don’t know what to do. I’m fed up. She wants me to give this medication (mirtazapine) another 2 weeks, so I’ll humour her. I’m not convinced to be honest, it has already been given 5 weeks, with no difference other than putting on some weight, which has not pleased me.

Overall I am a very fed up elephant, but I’m hoping this weekend at home will give me a little break.

I’m not really in the right mood or frame of mind for writing anything of any interest for this blog at the moment, and I haven’t been for quite a while. I still have a post that I really want to get done but can’t seem to find the right words. Just thought I’d give you another little update on Ellieland.

(And also, I have discovered the WordPress app for my iPad! This now means I can blog on here which is good because I left my laptop at my uni house this weekend!)