Keeping A Migraine Journal

Dear Diary, Migraines Suck!

I have come to believe that a migraine journal can help me listen to my body and migraines and what they are trying to tell me more clearly.

The letter below is a page from my own migraine journal.

I don’t normally share my negative thoughts with anyone as I really try to stay as positive as possible.

I have a very healthy body, it just gets migraines and I remind myself that there is more help available now than ever before in history.

But somehow I think you will already know that it is impossible on some days to be totally positive. If you manage that, then I admire you.

Here is a page I wrote a while ago ... this particular migraine lasted 12 days ... it was a long one.

Dear Diary, May 12th 2011

I wanted to write today – today is not a good day – I try so hard to maintain a positive outlook and reinforce all the beautiful things in life. But today – well – some days I am just not that positive! In fact I struggle to see anything positive after such a long debilitating migraine.

I have just had a migraine for 7 days, a pretty nasty one actually, lots of break through pain with my abortive. It only lasts 11 hours and then I wait until the 12th hour when I am allowed to take another one without overdosing, and then wait 2 hours for it to kick in. So three hours of agony, which is quite good compared to what it could be, or has been in the past without the abortive.

Migraines Suck Stamped Out
Sadly – it feels like it might just be lurking around in my eyes which may mean it’s coming back. Or they are just still swollen from the last attack. Who knows – it’s always hard to tell if it turns the intensity up or down. My life is so unpredictable and I am exhausted.

So today I am feeling the loss of a week. I feel like sometimes when I lose a week like this, that a chunk of my life, that well – I am just really worthless. Yes – there I said it. I often feel so down after a long migraine and I start to wonder what it’s all about - this life I’ve been gifted with.

I feel hung-over and quite unable to do much, even though the pain has subsided. I do get to experience love and joy, but at this point – just for today – it feels like I keep missing out on big chunks of life and living and most certainly any form of excitement or adventure.

The words of the U2 song “One” come to mind – “you ask me to enter and then you make me crawl, I can’t keep holding on, when I all I’ve got is hurt” ...

So I ponder and compare what a normal person would have done in one week, and then I look at – well - me just being in bed. Crying, vomiting, and unfortunately yelling at my partner for something trivial - that’s what I’ve done, oh and cancel some appointments. I was well enough yesterday to watch a movie, in complete darkness with my sun glasses on - silly but anything to reduce the intensity of any light coming into my eyes.

Yesterday, when I cancelled an appointment, the receptionist replied “get to a doctor!” Yes “been there, done that” I replied. If only it were that simple.

It reminded me of a “friend” about 10 years ago, called to see if I wanted to go do something, and I said no I’ve just had a migraine for x days and she said “oh for God sakes, go to the hospital for a shot of pethidine and get back to your life. I am sick of hearing about your migraines” she said and then went on to say that she went to hospital once for a migraine (hang over I thought – she was drinking a lot at that time) anyway she got her shot and has never had one again EVER!

I never spoke to her again after that, imagine saying that to a “friend”... amazing. I was shocked, as I often am by what some people have said to me over the years. Who needs friends like that? But then who would understand this level of pain?

Other hurtful things come to mind. Being called “toxic” and being told to “get over it” or “you’ll be right” as they say here in Australia. "Scamming to get off work." Or “your negative thoughts must give you those migraines”. Yeah right! I close my eyes and I can see the Rolodex of nasty comments.

Oh this is a bad day. I feel so sad, hopeless, worthless, oh dear. Perhaps it’s just the aftershock of a 7 day long migraine, and now wondering if more days are to come. I can go up to 10 days around this time of the month. No more days of this pain God, please.

Boohoo – poor me, I am always sick! OK that's enough - not always. Time to remember that this will be over soon. I have endured every other migraine. I will return to my life. I will get all those things done I need to. Making a list will help reduce this anxiety. And get another ice pack to help with the pain. NOW!

It doesn’t sound so bad reading it again, but I can assure you I felt very down and depressed when I was writing it. I hope you find an outlet through writing in a migraine journal too ... I have shared this to hopefully inspire you to write or find something that helps you get through all this emotional turmoil that comes up around chronic pain episodes. If you have any that is.

I keep two separate journals - a negative and a positive journal. I dispose (shred or burn safely) of the negative when it is half full. I don't like keeping negative energy in my home. In my positive migraine journal right at the front I write a list of self nurturing things to do when I am migraine free again. Please click on the link above if you'd like to print it out.

A Structured Migraine Journal

Migraine Journal

Just keeping a handwritten migraine journal provides a beneficial outlet for expressing our real feelings for some of us.

Others might like a more structured approach like CBT, and others will never want to journal.

Cognitive Behavior Modification or CBT for migraines is now becoming part of traditional mainstream medicine. For decades now studies have shown a connection between expressing your feelings and good mental health. Do you have a migraine journal or some outlet to help you process the intense emotions that may come up with your migraine pain episodes?

Modalities like CBT are proven to work for anxiety but what about with migraine? Can expressing yourself make any difference? Studies say "yes it can."

I have come to believe that keeping a migraine journal can help me listen to my body and migraines and what they are trying to tell me more clearly. It helps me 'tune into' myself. 

Through years of study I have finally decided that keeping a migraine journal is a good way to stay real with myself about emotions and fears that come up for me around this medical condition and the unreliable existence that comes with it.

I never dreamed that I would be so sick for so long, never mind disabled, so letting go of my dreams was just one part to write about. That part took me years! I had lots of dreams. I still have dreams, but they are much different now. Never lose hope my friend. Persevere.

There are no rules, just start writing ...

Here are some forms to print off to help you get started with your migraine journal:

•    Anxiety Thought Record Sheet
•    Blank Letter to My Migraines
•    CBT & Anxiety Worksheet
•    Depression Thought Record Sheet

Things That Help Migraines

The most effective way to help migraines is to use a combination of the traditional approach and alternative therapies. Biofeedback devices are gaining in popularity due to the success rates with pain reduction. I also find doing a gentle exercise like yoga regularly and having professional pain counseling for a little extra migraine support is essential.

This combination works for me, give them a try:

› Keeping A Migraine Journal: Dear Diary Migraines Suck!

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With this new information, what one thing can you do now to reduce your attacks?