When My Migraines and Depression Strike at the Same Time


The similarities between depression and migraines are striking: You can’t always predict when either one will hit, they’re often debilitating and the effects of each are more than just simple headaches or sadness.

Getting both is a nightmare for me.

My migraines typically happen in the middle of the night, waking me up from my sleep. I don’t know my triggers, and I don’t know why they tend to happen at 4 in the morning when I can go weeks without pain.

My depression is even less predictable. It can strike me at 9 in the morning, 4 in the afternoon or 11 at night. I could wake up feeling depressed for no reason at all, or I can have a great day, only for the depression to make a surprise appearance when I get home. I can be out with friends or I can be by myself.

The symptoms of my depression can often include the inability to move due to fatigue while my migraines severely limit my mobility because of the sharp pain in my head.

The worst similarity of these two conditions is that they’re both invisible illnesses. Unless my depression has led me to a dark enough place where I feel the urge to self-harm or hole myself up in my apartment for weeks at a time, people won’t notice the darkness inside my mind. Unless I’m completely incapacitated by my pain, nobody would ever notice that I get migraines.

Getting a migraine and being overcome by depression within the span of 24 hours can be even more exhausting than it sounds. I would wake up in the middle of the night from the pain and be kept awake for an hour, maybe more, while I wait for it to subside enough for me to sleep again. Then, while I’m already sleep-deprived, I’d be struck with the overwhelming fatigue and depressive thoughts in my head, either leaving me numb to the world or filled with a crippling sadness and self-hatred.

These invisible illnesses have their grip on me, but I’m trying to cope. I imagine them like boxers in a ring, fighting to be the ultimate victor. Maybe they’ll get tired of fighting eventually, hang up their boxing glove and leave me alone.

Probably not, but here’s hoping.

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