A journey of self-understanding
I was at a point where I would do anything to reduce migraine symptoms. I had tried everything from continuous birth control to the ketogenic diet and they had come back yet again. That’s why I turned to some alternative methods that I had never considered for physical symptoms. It turns out, even my physical symptoms often have emotional roots.
Before you read further, I will clarify I am not a medical doctor. I’m not trying to claim that it is anyone’s fault that they have a medical disorder. Usually, I talk about narcolepsy, but today I’m going to share a bit about migraine.
I had been trying to answer the question, “Why me?” when it came to my physical pain and suffering. But after years of looking outside of myself for the explanation to that, I started to look inward. While experiencing frequent migraines, I was constantly looking for a physical cause. I was beating myself up for not drinking enough water, not eating the right foods, not taking the right supplements. I would do anything to reduce migraine symptoms.
Every time it hit, I asked my body, “What do you want?” Subconsciously, I understood that the pain was some kind of message or communication from my body. I just couldn’t hear what it was saying; until I went to a hypnosis session with a good friend of mine.
Hypnosis to Reduce Migraine
Hypnosis is a fantastic tool. It can allow you to quiet the chatter of the conscious mind to better communicate with what is underneath. My hypnotherapist helped me understand where my migraines originated.
In a hypnotic trance, I traveled back to the first time I experienced a migraine. It happened when I was around 13 years old and I was supposed to go to a friend’s birthday party. I didn’t want to go to a party with so many people. I was very shy and awkward. But she was my friend. I didn’t know how to say “no.”
So I went. But, after less than an hour at the party, I was overcome with pain. My friend’s parents called my mom to come and get me. I had a valid excuse to leave the party. I didn’t feel like my own preference not to attend was a valid reason. But a problem with my health was a good reason to go home. I felt like I had escaped from what was going to be a torturous night. (Now I have boundaries and know I can say “no” for whatever reason I want.)
I continued to let migraine say “no” for me over a number of years. There are specific events that I remember not wanting to attend and thinking, oh great; now I have a migraine and an excuse to stay home. But I didn’t see the link until more recently.
Being Protected by My Own Mind
A course instructor asked, “What would your symptom say to you if it was your friend?” This question really got to me. I thought, my migraine would tell me that I should rest, just stay home, get comfortable, and pamper myself. It’s okay to be selfish when you have a migraine.
What a truth bomb that was. I rarely give myself permission to rest and take care of myself, but migraines give me that permission.
My mind heard the thoughts I had about not wanting to go places or do things and it tried to protect me from the things I don’t like. Migraine was showing up to make sure I took care of myself, since I wasn’t making those decisions on my own.
Migraine kept me home from things that I wanted to attend, too. If I was feeling a little shy or nervous, migraine swooped in to protect me from feeling uncomfortable. Of course, I was oblivious to this service it was offering me. I spent more and more time in bed with ice packs, sunglasses, and huge bottles of water.
When I Hit Bottom
In 2013, I was working my first full-time job and not feeling any fulfillment from it. Headaches were coming so frequently, I could hardly tell when one ended and another started. Finally, my doctor diagnosed me with cluster headache when I spent six months in nearly constant pain. The pain was so bad I was convinced of a physical problem. I went for CAT scans, MRIs, and more blood tests than I care to think about. But in retrospect, I realize what my mind was doing. It was trying to protect me from doing all the things I didn’t really want to do. Which at that time, was everything.
I was in a really tough part of my life where I felt like I was doing what I had to do to get to the next level, no matter how miserable it made me. There was no time for things that I enjoyed, it was all about working, paying off student loans, and preparing for a master’s degree so I could actually get to work that I enjoy.
That pain cycle was finally broken with a lot of medication, but I know that would not have been a permanent solution. I took medicine to treat my sleep for narcolepsy, as well as medicine that interrupted the pain response. Once the headache finally ended, I quit my job to go abroad.
Leaving My Routine Behind to Reduce Migraine
I felt like I had a new life, but it also seemed temporary. Cluster headache is known to come and go without reason. The medication I was on would only get less and less effective the more I used it, so I decided to seize the day! After leaving the US, I went back to only having occasional migraines and the Cluster Headaches have not returned in the last six years.
My stress level while living abroad is so much lower than it was in the US. I feel no social pressure to keep up with the rat race. I’m okay being the weirdo foreigner, and I have found work that I genuinely love and am passionate about. I am able to help others reduce migraine with the training I have gone through, so feel free to reach out if you are curious about the steps.
It is not my fault that I suffered for so many years with migraines. But I was partially responsible. That doesn’t mean I beat myself up for it. I was doing my best. But, empowerment comes via responsibility. Once I recognized how I contributed, I could stop adding to the issue and learn how to reduce migraine symptoms.
Finding a Solution to Reduce Migraine
Hopefully, you are beginning to see how my own mind helped to increase the severity of my migraine disorder. Then you may be able to understand the solution that I have found. Basically, its about doing the job the migraine was doing for me, in this case, setting boundaries and saying “no.” But that’s easier said than done.
It’s easy to say you are going to start setting boundaries immediately. But when it comes to doing it, there are so many different triggers that can cause you to cave. Until you deal with your past experiences that have made you into the giving person you are today, it’s going to be difficult to change the patterns you have created. But there are plenty of techniques that are easier than sheer willpower. I turned to hypnosis, and have since become a trained hypnotherapist myself.
During the hypnosis session, I went back to some different events in my life that have contributed to my migraine journey. My hypnotist gave me the space to forgive myself. She offered me what I really needed in those situations instead of a migraine, the opportunity to put myself first. And then she held space for me to let go of anything I was needlessly holding onto.
In her powerful sessions, I chipped away at layers and layers of beliefs about myself, my health, and my body until I was finally at peace. When I experience them, I try to hear what message my body is trying to send me. Often, it is still trying to say “no” for me when it perceives that I might be in over my head. In those situations, I look inward and I say, “thank you. Thank you for trying to protect me, but I got this. I can handle this. I release this pain you are giving me. ”
Migraines are Real
I’m not saying that migraines aren’t real. The days I spent curled up in pain, vomiting, stumbling around with my eyes closed to avoid light were real and valid. But I will say that I can take responsibility for the part I played in that becoming my reality. And I take responsibility for reversing it.
Here is a poem I wrote about experiencing migraine while working through all of this.
And another about how empowering it was to heal myself.