Hello! I have been putting off this moment for so long, but enough with the imposter syndrome fueled procrastination, I am here to launch this blog. We are halfway through Migraine and Headache Awareness Month for 2019. A month of advocacy, awareness and talking openly about the suffering caused by these neurological conditions. I thought it would be fitting to introduce myself and my own personal story during this time of reflection and vulnerability.
Migraine is a neurological condition that has a broad spectrum of suffering. Some people might get one or two migraines in their entire life. Others get them semi-regularly and will know their triggers. At the other end of the range there are those who have attacks every day or every other day, giving them chronic pain and disabling symptoms such as vertigo or dizziness. My own history started in my early teens, when the hormones of puberty kicked my brain over the edge and I started getting the classic pounding headache that accompanies a migraine attack. By my twenties I knew them as a manageable part of life - visitng once a month just before my period, and occasionally at other times if I would sleep in or drink too much.
In 2017 I gave birth to my daughter and was so happy not to have had a migraine throughout my entire pregnancy. The attacks began again when Freya was around 3 months old, and by the time she was 6 months I wad getting 10 or more each month. I started taking Magnesium, saw a Physiotherapist (in case my neck was part of the problem) and gave up drinking. I also started seeing a counselor as I was concerned that my anxiety was causing the uptick in episodes. Sadly 9 months post-partum I was getting 15+ a month, usually 18-19. This carried on for more than 12 months into 2019. I tried medication from my neurologist, an anti-depressant, acupuncture, meditation, a keto diet and more physical therapy. Nothing worked.
I’m an Exercise Physiology student and Yoga Teacher and I love to move my body regularly. However, chronic migraine made me afraid to do this. Exercise was a trigger (it felt like everything was a trigger though to be fair) and I simply couldn’t face getting outside for a walk or off to a yoga class. I felt despondent, powerless and at a loss.
At the beginning of 2019 I read Heal Your Headache by David Buchholz. While this was by no means a miracle cure, but after starting his recommended protocol of supplements and the elimination diet he suggested I began to feel better. I combined this with Botox from my neurologist at the beginning of March, and also started a new exercise program for myself. I realised that my new chosen career involves helping chronically ill people use exercise as medicine, and this was a chance to put theory into practice. It was this decision and planning process that lead me to create the Movement with Migraine Instagram page and eventually this blog! Cutting out caffeine has made a huge difference for me, and I do feel that the supplements have helped significantly too. Sleep has also been a huge factor throughout the journey - not an easy part of life to manage when you have a toddler! At this stage I’m 5, almost 6, months into the HYH protocol and the frequency of migraine attacks I get each month has plummeted to 8 last month and 6 so far this month. This is still a lot, but so much better than before. I never thought this would be possible for me, 6 months ago I truly thought that I would live with almost daily migraine for the rest of my life.
I hope this gives you a little background into my own journey with this condition, and why I am so keen to combine my professional interest in exercise science with my personal experience of migraine. I hope this blog can help migraine sufferers feel good about their bodies again, and start enjoying moving well once more. A regime for someone in the midst of chronic migraine will look very different to a plan for someone who gets one or two a month, but the principles are the same. If you can move more, sit less and find ways to enjoy exercising your body you will feel better overall and avoid other problems that can arise from sedentary living.
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