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How I Successfully Manage Chronic Migraine

Throughout high school and early college, I experienced daily migraines that would last for hours — if not days — and often left me unable to get out of bed. These severe and chronic migraines were an unfortunate yet common symptom of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Today, I experience one to two migraines per month that are less severe and far more manageable. Over the years, I have learned how to prevent and cope with migraine.

4 Ways I Manage My Chronic Migraine

The following are a few ways I successfully manage my life with chronic migraine.

1. Address the root cause of my migraine.

To begin, I have found that effectively managing the root cause of my migraine (anxiety) is the single greatest anecdote for my migraines. My anxiety management takes several forms. First, I regularly attend mental health therapy as an anti-anxiety step as well as to address my anxiety when it arises. Second, I maintain a meticulous self-care routine that includes, but is not limited to, regular coffee runs, daily walks, and plenty of Disneyland visits. Third, I actively talk to my anxiety (whom I named Mr. Peanut) when it manifests.

2. Take mediation to reduce my anxiety and migraine.

As a fierce mental health advocate, I am proud to help fight stigma by self-disclosing that I take medication for my multiple mental health conditions. In addition to taking anxiety medication, I also take medication to both prevent daily migraines and treat severe migraines when they occur. Importantly, I am not claiming that medications are the right decision for every person or situation. However, they work for me and have dramatically improved my quality of life.

3. Prioritize high-quality sleep.

There is a clear connection between my sleep and the frequency of my migraines. Subsequently, I am religious when it comes to my sleep regimen. I am not afraid to say no to an early morning speaking engagement or pass on to the fireworks show at Disneyland if it means I will get at least eight hours of quality sleep.

4. Take mental health days as needed.

I used to hesitate before taking a mental health day to tend to my migraine. For some reason, I believed a migraine was not a valid enough reason to need a day off from work. Over time, I learned that trying to power through my migraines only made them last longer. Now, I freely take time off when I experience a migraine. I now know that a single day off from work — or even a half-day away from my laptop — pays dividends down the road for my mental health.

While not an exhaustive list, these are a few of the most significant ways I prevent and manage migraine. If you are struggling to manage your chronic migraine, know that help is available and recovery is possible. You’ve got this!

Image Credits: Kyle Elliott, MPA, CHES