“And I have learned now to live with it, learned when to expect it, how to outwit it, even how to regard it, when it does come, as more friend than a lodger. We have reached a certain understanding, my migraine and I.”
– Joan Didion, author
Migraines are a neurological disorder that can be genetic or triggered by a certain environmental factor. The main and definitive underlying cause of a migraine is still unknown. Migraines headaches can last from a few hours to days.
Worldwide, migraines affect approximately 15% of the population. It is more common in women at 19% than men at 11%. Rates of Migraines are slightly lower in Asia comparing to other western countries.
TUB is going to explore the struggles of one of the women that is a part of the above statistic and try to understand the life of Shubhangi who suffers the agonizing pain of a migraine. Shubhangi, a regular, old-school girl. This dreamer likes good food, playing with words, reading books and yearns to travel the world someday. She is talking about misconception about migraine too.
The world is more empathetic when they start a conversation.
THE THROBBING PAIN- Shubhangi’s agony in her words.
‘Everything is pitch dark. You’re hit hard in the head. The attack causes dizziness, vertigo, and confusion. Eventually, your speech is slurred. You cannot concentrate. The attack leaves you completely debilitated. Worst than anything. The pain is so intense that you feel you might pass out. But somehow, you don’t. Cruelly, there is no escape. You are left conscious with all the pain. Your head is still spinning. Bright lights which aren’t really there blind your vision. You beg for it to stop. But it won’t.’
Shubhangi was diagnosed with a migraine at 16, but she has been getting it since she was 12 or 13 years old. At first, her parents thought it was due to stress from all the homework she has been getting from school. Since her diagnosis, she started visiting doctors every six months. She was on regular medication until she was 19 but her health still failed to improve.
‘The trick with a migraine is that you can be smart, take all your prescribed medication and still repeatedly fail to improve your condition.’
In the year 2015, her neurologist was happy with her progress and she hasn’t been on medication since then. Even Though she has been suffering these headaches for years now yet she doesn’t know what can trigger these headaches at what time. She was asked to maintain a diary to note down her triggers and symptoms. In her case, it was skipping her meals, lack of sleep, visual strain, dehydration, seasonal change, excessive heat, strong emotions of distress and grief.
An aura is a perceptual disturbance experienced by people with migraines. About 15-20% of people with migraines experience migraines with an aura. During an aura, the blood supply to an area of the brain is interrupted. Depending on which part of the brain is not getting enough blood, the consequent symptoms are experienced. It often manifests as the perception of a strange light, an unpleasant smell, or confusing thoughts or experiences.
She describes her migraine aura with visual and language disturbances. Her vision gets foggy and grey and makes it hard for her to see. Occasionally, I also go through vibrating visual fields.
‘As I wake up, I have an earthquake like sensation where I feel everything around me is moving. Or when I get out of the lift, there is a loss of balance and sometimes it takes me a minute to get back to stability.’
She can’t form sentences and even if she does speak something it is distorted. During this phase, her memory is compromised. She forgets things easily and has a hard time remembering details. All this is accompanied by anxiety. She says she doesn’t feel any pain during this phase but is uncertain what it might lead to.
According to her, the longest she has been without a headache is probably three weeks. Living with such a condition for years made her learn few tricks to deal with it by being patient and well informed about her condition. Her biggest wish still remains to be like a lot of people who don’t get headaches or like some of her friends who have ‘never had one’.
There are more people out there who might be going through the same experience as her and not be aware of their condition being this serious. A migraine cannot be cured but with early diagnosis, it can be prevented and managed by medication and therapy. You know your body more than anyone else and therapy helps you decode the signals your body sends you and prevent the frequency of Migraines.
Team TUB is glad that Shubhangi shared her experience with us and we got to talk and share her story with our TUB Community. The more we talk the better we know. Share your story with us and spread the awareness.
You may follow her on various social channels
To all the uncommoners out there, we are always looking for an amazing artist. Let’s show our audience the potential in your creativity and expand our creative knowledge. Contact us through our email at [email protected] or DM us on our official Instagram handle @theuncommonbox
Content Writing by Nivedita Das
You can follow “THE UNCOMMON BOX” at the following social channels