Your doctor will (should) tell you of the importance of keeping a migraine diary. Not only will these records help you to provide accurate details to give to your primary care physician, they can help you determine patterns and see what's working.
What do you think when you hear the word diary? Do you think about when you were little? Or do you keep one now as an adult?
According an old edition of the Brainwaves newsletter from the Brain Foundation "only 10%" of migraineurs "keep a migraine diary, but when they do, 67%" find it helpful. (Brainwaves, 2011)
When I hear the word diary, I automatically think "Dear Diary Migraines Suck!"
And then I think of a useful and organized record keeping system that answers questions and helps solve problems.
But I always think they suck first just FYI!
I have kept records for years now. I keep them to monitor any changes and it has become routine to write down anything new I do or take.
For example, just a few months ago I wrote down the date I put on my tinted migraine glasses. I would forget otherwise, and I need to see if they make a difference.
It especially helps when doctors ask questions you've not thought of like "what did you do differently three months ago?" I don't know about you, but sometimes when I just can't answer their questions, my records can.
You will find a few options here, the migraine journal and the diary along with some other things to help you form the foundation of your treatment strategies with doctors and your other health professionals.
I hope this helps you plan ahead, be more organized and keep your anxiety at bay!
If you’ve had migraines for a while, you might have already discovered that you need to keep some records. If not, let me tell you why it’s so important to keep a migraine diary.
Because it all gets overwhelming and confusing. When emotional steps in, intellect steps out.
You might not remember what happened a few months ago, or even weeks ago.
If you are testing different things, a migraine diary will help you monitor, check and review results again and again. I say again and again because sometimes it can be trial and error to find what works.
So keeping good records will help you:
Once you have migraines, you might experience underlying anxiety that is just waiting for the next attack that's going to interrupt (or destroy) some crucial moment in your life.
Keeping a diary will help you recognize and avoid behaviors that could cause a migraine. You can take back some control by learning your triggers.
Plus there is proof that when you write something down, your brain can process it more easily. So... have I convinced you to start a diary yet?
There's a very simple one you can download right now when you join my mailing list.
Here are some practical ways to keep your sanity.
I suggest 3 journals. Yes 3!
I talk more about emotional support in my migraine pain management course. And my eBook Migraine Management deals with how to reduce anxiety, manage pain and prevent attacks. The course has a very detailed diary (with full instructions and codes for symptoms and triggers) that you can use daily or monthly.
Test results, your diagnosis, important tests results from other doctors.
First and foremost, you must see your doctor to make sure you do infact have migraines. You must get the right diagnosis to get the right treatment.
I suggest you keep all your test results all together in one binder. In case you change doctors or need to see a number of them before you find a good one. You can just take the folder with you instead of redoing (and paying again) for any tests.
This might mean you need to ask your doctor to print out important blood test results, or you may need to request copies for your own records.
Also bring your own diary notes with symptoms and suspected triggers. And... this is important... make note of how long it takes for the pain phase to hit. I talk more about this in my course... timing is essential. The first module is free and it highlights why getting the timing right is essential to aborting an attack.
This is a good system to help you inform and coordinate your support network and professional healthcare team.
Ok, we’ve covered what you need in your migraine diary, and why you need one. I suggested a positive migraine journal and a negative pain journal. These are just a few ways to learn to manage the emotional trauma migraines bring.
Here are a few other posts you can read for more help around emotional support:
I hope this information helps you to become your own detective and reduce your pain especially if you don't find relief with medications.
I also hope it helps you to keep track of things easily and see your patterns. It is important to understand your responsibility in managing your own pain episodes and treatment.
Be well, stay well – and may you find what keeps you migraine-free forever.