Migraines and depression can not be taken lightly. Depression can lead to suicide and with the added pain and life altering impacts from migraine, it has the potential to make it worse. Please get professional help now if you feel that down.
Don't let them keep you down.
If you are struggling, and that's why you're here... here are some ideas that should help:
If you can wait or prefer face to face, ask your primary care physician who they would recommend for long term support.
Check out the local community center as most times Counselors volunteer there for free or a minimal donation. Have a look around your library for a business card, ask some friends, and yes - Google search in your area. You might find a support group that you can attend when you are able to.
I think it is really important to form a support network when you are dealing with chronic migraines and depression.
What do I know about migraines and depression? Here's a little bit of my story...
I was told that I was depressed before I got migraines. That I only had migraines because I was depressed. But I can assure you that the pain, misunderstandings and impacts of having chronic migraines came first and the depression followed.
I got severely depressed after about 8 years of having chronic migraines 20 days every month. That's not too bad actually considering I did not find any effective pain medications, nor did I find support.
After about 4 years my relationship crumbled, I changed jobs down to part time, and then 2 days a week. I had to move somewhere cheaper. My friends did not understand and drifted away thinking I just didn't want to participate in things with them. Everything I once knew disappeared.
There is a stigma associated with migraines, and it still lingers... the pain is imagined - it's just a bad headache. It is still misunderstood and very underrated. It is under treated. Half of us migraine sufferers are not getting effective treatment. Why? Who knows really, but do you dismiss them as just a headache?
What I do know is that it is easy to find yourself feeling depressed if you suffer from recurring migraine attacks over along period of time. This is a lifelong condition. Migraines and depression often go hand in hand and they need to be taken seriously.
I highly recommend finding a good counselor or psychologist. Dealing with migraines and depression is not easy. Good friends help too, but I prefer to leave the heavy stuff for the professionals.
Click here to get started looking for a good online counselor and click here for my migraine pain management course to help you find the best way to relieve migraines and learn the essential timing required to abort an attack.
Now... let me
share this process to help you feel a little better despite having migraines
One way to deal with migraines and depression is to keep a journal. It is beneficial to express your emotions, but the strong emotions from intense physical pain may be too strong for others to bear.
It is best to process some of it with yourself.
Plus some things you just don't want to say to or share with other people. Especially those you love. I can recommend writing a letter to yourself, or more specifically, your migraines.
This letter below is inspired by the work of Barbara De Angelis, PhD. Her technique deals with all six levels involved in healing anger. Barbara De Angelis says that each level has two feelings associated with it.
You may require some space to write your answers down, so feel free to start a migraine journal. I also recommend shredding the journal when you are done with it so no one sees it. This process is just for you and no one else. Also – I believe - it’s not good to keep that negative energy in your house.
Here are some of my own examples, there is a blank form in the course or you can print this page out (just copy and paste into a word doc).
The anger level deals with blame and resentment. Write as many sentences as you can that start out with this statement:
Migraine, I blame you for the loss of my career and the struggles I have each day trying to make ends meet financially.
Migraine, I resent you for taking all of this away from me without even an option to choose something else in my life. You are a destroyer.
The hurt layer deals with sadness and disappointment. Write as many sentences as you can that start out with this statement:
Migraine - you make me sad when you keep coming back to inflict your pain on me. It’s too much and it’s too often.
and then do migraine, you disappoint me when you don’t listen to my plea’s to go away and leave me alone.
The fear layer deals with insecurity and wounds. Write as many sentences as you can that start out with this statement:
Migraine I feel insecure when you constantly destroy my earning capacity.
and migraine, you wound me when you take away my happiness, my friendships, and my inner joy. You take everything from me migraine and I hate you for it.
Now it’s time to work toward a solution. This is a very important step to start to deal with the feelings of regret, understanding and responsibility. I am not talking about a solution to the actual medical condition of migraine. We both know there is no cure, only relief.
So what I am referring to here are your feelings around the disruption migraine brings into your life. So – having said that - write as many sentences as you can that start out with this statement:
Migraine I understand the situation as a medical condition that could possibly be from my own over excitement and over reactions to things. I also understand it could be worse – you could have killed me by now and I would have missed out on some really lovely and loving things in life.
and migraine I feel responsible when you take me out of commission and I miss work, or miss things I am looking forward to. I feel responsible for myself – my mental well-being – my financial well-being - my social well-being - and you take that all away but I am still responsible for me.
The intention layer deals with solutions and wishes. Knowing there is no cure but possibly a solution to how you might treat yourself from now on. Write as many sentences as you can that start out with this statement:
Migraine I feel a solution might be for you to go away. That is the only solution I see and I know you cannot.
and migraine I wish I could find my answer in healing you so that I can get back to my healthy happy active life instead of this isolated pain filled existence.
This may possibly be the hardest layer work with. The love layer deals with forgiveness and appreciation. Write as many sentences as you can that start out with this statement:
Migraine I forgive you for destroying my life, the dream
life I now hold only in my mind. I forgive you for migraines and
depression, as if migraines aren't hard enough.
And migraine I appreciate the fact that you make me stop sometimes and slow down enough to appreciate life and the little things I do have. I watch others speed through their lives, and I actually appreciate that fact that I can stop and think and learn to love myself regardless of whether I have migraines or not. You don’t make me a horrible person, you just present me with a horrible experience. Having you in my life has forced me to become more aware and conscious of what I do and eat and say.
So the idea is to work through each emotion thoroughly.
It can take more than one time, or one each as I have shown you above so feel free to write as much and as often as you wish.
Remember do not show this letter to
anyone. This is just for you to help you process your emotions. Working through the layers with migraines and depression might be more than others can handle or understand.
If you feel like showing some one, I can only suggest waiting a week and reading it again to make sure it still feels right. Sometimes you can be more real when you know it’s private. It is totally up to you.
Every time you write to yourself instead of getting angry or depressed, you are reprogramming your brain to react differently and creating a cognitive behavior modification. The goal is for your brain to eventually process all these emotions by itself, and you will no longer have to write the letters to yourself, unless you start to enjoy it that is.
So this is where the behavioral modifications gets interesting in dealing effectively with migraines and depression.
Reducing glare inside and outside, taking a walk for some fresh air, and using guided meditation and relaxation CD's can all help you manage migraine attacks. These all work for me. Give one a try.
Educate yourself in this area and you will quickly see you are not alone. Millions of people suffer from depression, and just about every body will at some time in their lives.
So just reach out... don't leave it or wait.