10 Ways to Overcome Debilitating Migraines
My migraines started at 16 and they were so intense that I started seeing neurologists and taking medication. Even with professional help, the migraines persisted, continuing to get worse. And the more migraines I had, the more meds my doctors prescribed.
I’ll never forget January 6, 2010 — I got a migraine that essentially lasted for over six years! I spent those six years going in and out of doctors offices, emergency rooms, and hospitals – I had a neurostimulator implant to help with the pain, was getting botox, and was taking 15 medications ranging from psych meds to pain meds to ADD meds, nausea meds... you name it, I tried it.
I was told to accept that I may never get better, and at one point I did – I accepted that I was going to live my life as a “sick person.” But after some time in a psychiatric hospital in 2015, I managed to get back on my feet enough to pursue my Master's Degree. However, I was still heavily medicated and, to my extreme denial, dealing with a Dilaudid addiction that was over a decade in the making.
In 2017, my whole life began to change and my journey to recovery officially began. I started seeing a spiritual healer who helped me address the underlying emotional/spiritual problems that were causing the migraines, which for me was the depression and anxiety. Over the course of the last year, with ongoing heavy-duty inner work and guidance from both my healer and a naturopathic doctor, I was able to stop taking almost all of the psych meds (I’m still on one, which I know I will eventually get off of), stop getting botox injections, and stop taking the migraine meds, preventatives, abortives, pain meds, muscle relaxers, and nausea meds.
Here are the ten things that have helped me the most:
Listening to My Emotions:
The migraines have improved greatly over the past year, but I do still get slight migraines. Now, when I start to feel the pain, I know that this is my body’s way of telling me that something is going on emotionally. I noticed my migraines correlate with negative emotions like anxiety, fear, and doubt, and the more I focus on the pain, the worse it gets. With that awareness, when I feel a migraine coming on, I concentrate on my breathing and start to internalize. Once I’ve identified what’s happening emotionally, I use positive self-talk, affirmations, focused breathing, meditation, and prayer to work through whatever has surfaced and is creating pain.
I started doing yoga at the end of February 2018, worked my way through beginners classes, and now go almost every day. Doing so has contributed to my newfound sense of wellbeing and steady emotional state. I mainly practice in an infrared studio – I feel that hot yoga is a total cleansing of mind, body, and spirit, which in turn has strengthened my self-discipline, especially when it comes to my thoughts.
Even though I know that there are no quick fixes or magic pills, and much of the work relies on emotional and spiritual healing, I currently take Ashwagandha root, fish oil, Dopatone, and a Selenium supplement for the physical imbalances, which in my case are caused by toxic thought patterns. The Ashwagandha root helps with stress response and anxiety, while the fish oil is to help with brain function and depression. The Dopatone supplement also helps with depression, and the selenium supplement is for thyroid function. While I have researched each of these supplements personally, my naturopath also supports my taking them as I continue to work through depression and anxiety.
Self Help Books & Podcasts:
I love reading self-help books. Currently, I am reading a book by Dr. Joe Dispenza that explores the scientific aspect of spirituality, which really resonates with me. I also listen to podcasts and recordings from Hay House Radio and by people like Rob Bell and Eckhart Tolle. Since everyone is different, not every how-to-better-yourself book and podcast is going to resonate equally. The important thing is to find a writer, teacher, doctor, or healer (etc.!) who reaches you on a soul level, which may require some trial and error.
Music has greatly influenced my life and my state of being. I used to listen to heavy metal, which vibrates at a low frequency and rarely has uplifting lyrics. The music we listen to, the TV and movies we watch — it all influences us. Now I listen to upbeat and uplifting music at every chance I get, and I often dance along with it, which boosts my spirit. This new relationship with music helps me be present – like many other people who suffer from anxiety and depression, I never used to feel “in the moment.”
Writing, Journaling & Self-Talk:
Writing and journaling – putting my emotions on paper and releasing them from my insides – has definitely helped me too. Positive self-talk, in front of the mirror, is another trick I have utilized a lot. In the past, it helped to write letters to myself and record videos to remind me of all the wonderful things in my life and of all my positive attributes. The videos and letters helped me through dark times when the only thoughts going through my head were of suicidal ideation.
My healer uses tones to clear and balance out my chakras. The work we do during our sessions is like therapy on steroids – he is a very gifted individual who has been guiding me through getting to the source of the negative emotions I feel and how to navigate them when they do come up. His wife, who is also an energy healer, has additionally helped me through polarity sessions, which realign energy throughout the body.
With my naturopathic doctor’s guidance, I did HeartMath biofeedback sessions in which I used deep breathing and visualization techniques to get my heart rate/rhythm into what’s referred to as a "coherent" zone — basically a state of extreme calmness. I could visually see my heart rhythm on a computer screen, which in turn aided me a great deal mentally. I am a very visual person, and seeing the evidence on the computer screen that I was capable of calming myself down into a state void of anxiety did wonders for my confidence in my ability to mentally and physically control the anxiety.
A Strong Support System:
It is SO incredibly important to have a support system. I am blessed to have a family that never gave up on me. I strongly advise people who are suffering to reach out for help. There is no shame in asking for help; in fact, it is a huge sign of strength.
The most important thing is to believe that you have the power to heal yourself and to never give up. Our minds are so powerful. Considering that I was told that I would not get better, and would be “sick” for life, I am a walking miracle.