What I want people to understand about chronic migraines

I have had chronic migraines since longer than I can remember to be honest. I believe they became chronic at the end of my BA so around 2000 or so. They became daily around 2004. It has been a long time since I had a day without a migraine, but they happen every so often. They have changed every aspect of my life. From what I do for a living, to how I socialize and how much. To whether I wanted children or not. 

  1. More than 90% of sufferers are unable to work or function normally during their migraine attack: What I want people to understand is that working with chronic migraines is extremely difficult. We have days we cannot work at all. And when we do of ability to function is compromised. This takes a great toll on us. It adds significant stress to us and to our employers and can causes issues with our employers. 
  2. Medication isn't designed to be taken every day: We can take triptans three days a week. If you have daily migraines that leaves four days unaccounted for. Assuming the three days was successfully treated at all. Nothing that works can be taken often. Therefore we have days where we have to endure acute migraines with nothing to help use. 
  3. Attacks last between 4-72 hours- this is not a four hour event at times. It can be days lost to a migraine. It can even last longer when it goes into a status migraine... which is brutal.
  4. Over 4 million people in the States alone experience Chronic migraines: Chronic migraines are more than 15 a month. They are complicated to treat. They are not rare. They are not a choice or a decision. They are what happens with chronification. 
  5. A migraine is a neurological disease: It is more than the headache portion of the attack. It has four stages of which a person may have all or a few. It can include symptoms of nausea, vomiting, vertigo, photophobia, phonophobia, visual or tactile auras.

The impact of chronic migraines, as well as those with high episodic migraines over episodic is:

  • Significantly lower household income.
  • less likely to be employed full-time
  • more likely to be occupationally disabled
  • higher risk of depression, anxiety and bipolar
  • higher risk of chronic pain
  • high occurrences of cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases

In my experience is was harder for me to get my higher education. It might even be impossible for some. I was high episodic and chronic during my academic career to get my BA and MA. It made me decide to not go for me Phd due to the issues I was having once chronic. Once in the workforce it is difficult to maintain a job. I found out I could not work shift-work of any sort or the migraines got worse due to the sleep issues caused.

It is extremely difficult to maintain full-time work of any sort. I had a desk job which is suitable for my fibromyalgia but impossible for the migraines. I simply could not work without missing too many days. I ended up on a lot of leaves of absence. It really was not working for me. It was strongly recommended to me I work part time. Therefore, lower household income. Not too many high paying part time jobs out there, is there? Many of us have to go on disability. Not very much income stability there either.

The impact increases the more frequent your migraines get. The more narrow and closed off your life becomes as social events get canceled, work becomes difficult and chronic pain affects your family. 

My personal impact can be summed up like this:

  • Couldn't peruse my academic career
  • couldn't find a suitable job
  • the career I settled for, I couldn't maintain work
  • had to go to part-time
  • job instability
  • financial instability
  • depression
  • financial stressed that affect my spouse
  • relationship stresses
The pain has a radius. It touches our entire lives. It touches everyone in our lives. The impact of chronic migraines in that way is impossible to measure. We are massively affected by it every single day. 

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