Migraine, stress, triggers and childhood traumas

I’ve only just recently woken up to the news that there is a strong correlation between childhood abuse survivors and idiopathic pain conditions. Apparently I had been living under a rock. Well, living in denial probably.

I have been a lifelong migraineur, and if you are reading my blog then you probably know about my past (and the clue is in the title). Lately I have been allowing the stress to pile up a bit, and then I’ve just had the most epic 3 day pain-fest. I’ve been a total zombie, fluctuating between too in pain to talk and too stoned on codeine to talk. I tend to have difficulty with speaking when my migraine peaks, so stammering, going blank, saying the wrong word… yeah, all of that stuff.

I’m totally sick of being held back from living my life by migraines. But I’m not a moaner, I’m a do-er – so I’m going to kick some arse! Anyone care to join me?

This morning, grinning like a loon through my codeine stupor, I made myself and my colleagues a promise. I set an intention, if you will. I said, out loud and in front of people so I totally have to follow through, that I will not succumb to another migraine attack again. Yep. I did. I said a crazy thing. But I meant it! And I’m sharing this on the internet too so you can all hold me accountable. I am going to TRY ALL THE THINGS.


I’m trying all of the cures, working on my half-baked google-based theory about my cortisol levels, getting acupuncture, and keeping a diary of my progress. I’m also going to be waffling about it on Periscope regularly, so join me there if you like, I’m @SarahKBrandis.

Today’s preventative measures so far have included:
– Magnesium Supplement
– Krill Oil Supplement
– Gingko Biloba Supplement
– My first acupuncture session (more to come!)
– Only one coffee (yes, I died a little inside)
– Electrolytes in my water

Of course, the biggest preventative measure would be to minimise stress…*coughs, looks away awkwardly… but Rome wasn’t built in a day. Stress is both a part of everyday life, and also I think essential for life. If we had no stress we wouldn’t get out of bed. What would benefit me most would be to find a way to even out the stress levels, find a sort of homeostasis, rather than ride the rollercoaster.

I realised this week that my biggest trigger is resting after a big event. You know when you are super-busy, excited or working really hard and you feel really alive? That’s cortisol and adrenaline in your blood, keeping you going. Your flight or fight response. And then you know when you stop rushing, try to rest but you end up feeling unwell? That’s a sudden change in your hormones! The ‘holiday headache’ as it is commonly known is a familiar feeling. It’s fairly typical for migraine sufferers to be struck down on the first day of their holiday. The sudden slowing down, the change in hormone levels, seems to be a commmon trigger.

Low resting cortisol levels have apparently been found in childhood abuse survivors, and there are some studies to be found online about this – thank you Google! Hence my half-baked theory that I need to watch my cortisol. I think a sudden slowing down is one of my triggers, so I have a plan to counteract it with exercise. Let’s see if it helps at all. And I’m going to be on the look out for med students doing cortisol testing. Take my blood, take it! I want all the tests, but I don’t want to pay private hospital prices…

I just did my first Periscope about migraines and somebody recommended an ionic magnet band (Power Balance) to me, so I’ve ordered one of those and hope to get it soon. I would love your recommendations too if you have any.

As an Elective Orphan I’m on a constant mission to overcome my past. For me, surviving childhood abuse wasn’t the end, it was the start of a life-long effort to shake of the shackles of my past. If my migraines are a shackle from my past, then that just makes me even more determined to smash them.

So, will you join me on my journey? If you suffer from migraines or another idiopathic pain then I hope my crazy mission helps you too. Just because your GP can’t figure it out doesn’t mean that you can’t. After all, who knows you better than you?

An Elective Orphan x

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