Hello! My name is Holly Hazen. I am a chronic migraine sufferer, qualified counselor and psychotherapist (MCAP), The Migraine Coach, the author of MigraineSavvy.com and - my latest resources - an e-book all about Migraine Management and the Migraine Pain Management Course.
Here’s a clip of my 15 seconds of fame on the Channel 9 news:
I was interviewed back in September 2010 about the newly discovered migraine TRESK gene. Ironically enough, those huge, super-bright TV lights started to trigger a migraine for me. I had to take my medications - Naramig (triptan) and Brufen (Ibuprofen) - right there and then.
What you don’t hear me say in the video is:
“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 wonder why they cut that bit?
The suffering that comes with migraines has taught me many things over the years. Migraines definitely forced me to take a path I may not otherwise have chosen. But you know what? It turns out, that path isn’t so bad after all. In fact, I’m happier, healthier and more at peace now than I may have been if migraines hadn’t sabotaged my life.
How’s that possible?
Well, I learned how to persevere. I learned how to be patient. I learned how to cope. And I learned how to become resilient. And I want to share all of those skills with you, so you can be happy, healthy and at peace too.
As a migraineur, pain can often totally overshadow any pleasures in life.
I know you know what I mean.
There’s a certain understanding I can feel now in others who also suffer from migraines. It’s that special look in their eye… that knowing look that understands the pain. And a look of genuine compassion.
You probably know only too well yourself that someone who’s never had a migraine just can’t get what it means for us. Most of the time, you’re met with a blank stare.
But try not to take that personally. (It took me a long time to get that!).
Even some of my loved ones who’ve seen me suffering over the years still don’t understand how intensely debilitating the pain is. And they were with me during the 14 years I spent without any effective pain medication, and they watched my journey through the depths of depression and despair.
"People who don't get migraines, don't get migraines." ~ Paula Dumas
But if you’re plagued by migraines, know that I understand so completely everything that you’re going through. I know how migraines devastate a life. But I’ve also learned how to overcome that devastation, and build something new.
And you can build something new too.
And then, BAM! Migraines wrecked it all.
I was forced to give up my job. But, despite the unending, disabling pain, I knew I had to do something.
It didn’t happen overnight, but gradually I changed the direction of my life. Ultimately, this led to me successfully completing a Master’s Degree in Counseling and Psychotherapy (MCAP).
That means professional chronic pain counseling.
Over the years, in my pursuit of finding a cure for migraines (no-one ever told me there was no cure!) I’ve 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).
Had I remained an accountant, I would never have explored so many of these fascinating subjects which ultimately have enriched my life in more ways than I’d ever have imagined possible.
Plus they’ve taught me how to manage my migraines, and to be able to live my life my way again.
(As you can see, being proactive is super important to me!)
I wish I could give you a straightforward, simple and definitive ‘cure’ for your migraines (and for mine!). Sadly, there is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to migraine treatments. Triggers vary from person to person too, as do the frequency and severity of attacks.
But, I can say for sure that the thing that helped - and will always help - me the most is a solid, effective pain management strategy. And that’s the place I recommend any migraineur begins their journey.
When I finally got my watertight plan in place, I gave back to myself so much of the control I’d previously watched slipping away from me. And when you feel more in control, you feel much more able to cope with - and overcome - whatever your migraines try to throw at you.
Here on my site, I’ve shared plenty of my own personal experiences to help you figure out what’ll work best for you. I’ve also included heaps of information I’ve discovered over the last 20 years during my quest to master my migraines.
Is it really possible to live a fulfilling life when every day is shrouded in the pain of a migraine attack, or tainted by anxiety about when the next attack might hit?
Yes, it really is!
And how? Well…
Balance, variety and fun!
And learning to become resilient.
I’ve lost count of the medications I tried that didn’t work, and the alternative therapies I tried that didn’t work, and the days I lost in the black hole of each aggressive migraine attack.
But slowly, the pieces began to fall into place. I found medications that work for me. I learned when to take action to give myself the best possible chance of aborting an attack. And I discovered a gentle form of focusing therapy which allows me to talk to my body - and even the migraines - in a loving and compassionate way.
I know, I know - you’re thinking, “you can feel compassion towards a migraine?!” But one of the best life skills my migraines have taught me is that self-compassion is SO important when you’re living with a chronic condition like this.
I too have found it super hard to stay positive when I’m once again confronted with one of the many overwhelming challenges that migraines present.
But one of the best cures I’ve discovered for this is to find at least ten things that make me happy, or laugh, or feel fulfilled, and do them...
Ideally for an hour a day - but even just five minutes three times a day would be a good start! Whether it’s listening to your favorite song, or popping outside to sit in the sunshine (or the rain!), or watching a movie that makes you laugh… just find the little things that make you smile.
And include them in your day, every single day.
By making the time to do things you find uplifting or rewarding, you’ll be breaking the cycle of anxiety, depression and pain.
I hope you’ll find the information and resources on my site useful, and I’m sending tons of positive vibes your way. Don’t let your migraines ruin your life. It is your life, after all!Start by downloading my free top ten migraine prevention tips - there’s no time like the present to start taking some positive steps towards creating a happier, healthier you :-)
Your fellow migraineur, in joy and sorrow,
Holly Hazen's photo credits: Catherine Adamson