Hello! My name is Holly Hazen. I am a chronic migraine sufferer, qualified counsellor and psychotherapist (MCAP), the author of Migraine Savvy.com and now The Migraine Coach.
Here is a clip of my fifteen seconds of fame on the Channel 9 news.
I was interviewed on the Channel Nine News back on 28th September 2010 about the newly discovered migraine TRESK gene. They don’t actually mention that in the video.
There I am in front of these huge square bright lights ironically becoming my migraine trigger and having to take my Naramig (triptan) and a Brufen (Ibuprofen) right there and then.
On the cutting room floor is where I said more about my migraine history:
"I have migraines 20 days each month and have done so for over 20 years. They render me completely disabled, depressed and after ten days in bed, behind. I never catch up."
"Part-time life, part-time hell", I said. I wonder why they cut that bit?
The suffering that comes with migraines has taught me many things over the years. I definitely took a path I may not have chosen otherwise. So for this I share with you, learning patience and perseverance; coping skills and resilience.
It’s been a long twenty years spotted with far too much pain. Most people would probably not say that – but as a migraineur the pain can often overshadow the pleasures in life.
And I know you know what I mean.
In this website I am sharing what I’ve learned from many years managing the intense pain of migraine. Including 14 years with no effective pain killers or abortives, through the depths of despair and depression, to now. Happy, fulfilled and resilient.
There is a certain understanding I can feel in others now that also suffer from migraines. It’s that look in their eyes, that knowing look of understanding the pain and of compassion.
Those lucky people, who do not get migraines, will never be able to understand our pain and most often respond with a blank stare.
Try not to take that personally. It took me a long time to get that.
Even my loved ones who have seen me suffering for so many years, still do not understand this degree of pain. I know now that understanding this condition is impossible for them.
"People who don't get migraines, don't get migraines." ~ Paula Dumas
I certainly learned some useful and some useless pain relief tips along the way that I share here. Each failure led me to learn something new in managing my own migraine disease.
This Means Professional Chronic Pain Counseling
Over the years, in my pursuit of finding a cure (I was never told there was no cure!) I have studied:
Holistic Counseling, Energetic Healing (Adv.Dipl), Self hypnosis, and numerous relaxation techniques including meditation.
Nutrition, corrective Yoga, Feldenkrais, and Tai Chi.
Shiatsu massage and Traditional Chinese Medicine (Dipl).
All of this leading up to a Master's Degree in Counseling and Applied Psychotherapy (MCAP).
photo credits: Catherine Dale
By learning coping skills and to have more balance, variety and fun in my life helped enormously. Forming a solid pain management strategy was a huge part of becoming more resilient and in control.
So you can tell that being proactive is important to me. I remain steadfast in my visualization of a migraine free future for all of us.
Guided relaxation CD’s and meditations have been a godsend. However I found that Transcendental Meditation distracted my mind, but focusing on the pain made it much more intense. Regardless, I stuck with that form of meditation for 8 years.
It is amazing what desperation drives us to do in search of pain relief and it is my intention to save you from any further needless suffering by covering all the bases (where humanly possible).
I now use a gentle form of focusing therapy to talk to the body and the migraines in a loving and compassionate way.
It may be hard to feel compassionate toward yourself and your migraines, but I can tell you from personal experience - it's important to be kind to yourself around this condition.
How have I managed to live a fulfilling life all these years despite so many failures in treatment you ask?
Balance, variety and fun!
And learning to become resilient.
I have tried just about everything (alternative and traditional allopathic medicine) that has come across my path to ‘cure’ my migraines.
Below are some ideas that help me stay positive when I am being faced with the many overwhelming challenges of migraines.
To live well and maintain happiness, I recommend finding 10 things (to start) that make you happy, laugh, feel fulfilled and then DO them ...
E V E R Y D A Y
That’s right – fit it in somewhere.
One hour each day, or every second day and vary the activities as often as possible.
If you can't manage an hour, start with 5 minutes 3 times a day. The brain learns best with small things, and often.
1. Take little 5 minute mini breaks through the day. Put your favorite music on an iPod or mp3 player and dance like nobody's watching. Go outside and soak in some sunshine and take some deep breathing breaks.
2. Educate yourself. Knowledge brings with it a confidence to make wiser choices. Try using a new word in context everyday. Or better yet watch the Migraine World Summit.
3. Drink healthy things instead of alcohol. DUH!
4. Laugh. Watch a funny movie.
5. Move that body – even if you only have ten minutes. Exercise is proven to reduce migraine occurrences. Go do something you find fun.
6. Be with people you enjoy. Talk to a friend on the phone or go meet them for a walk.
7. Schedule in “me” time. If you don’t schedule in the things above that you love, your days may just pass without any time to reflect.
8. Eat healthy migraine safe snacks twice a day to help keep your blood sugar levels steady through the day.
9. R E L A X ! Have a massage, or whatever reduces your stress levels. Read a good book, draw ...
10. Take a nice hot bath with Epsom salt and lavender essential oil. Sea Salt from the Dead Sea is even better. This is our distributor link, the products were so amazing we had to get involved. Sea salt will clean your energetic body from negativity and the salt from the Dead Sea has numerous healing qualities.
What are your 10 things? Let me know here on coping with migraines.
Your fellow migraineur, in joy and in sorrow,
Holly Hazen, The Migraine Coach