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Living with Migraine : Changing Your Attitude

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Q: Every time I have an attack, I tell myself I need to do something about my migraine but then I never do. How can I get motivated to take action?
A: You are not alone. Many people put off doing anything about their migraine until it becomes so bad that it starts to interfere with their lives. Migraine can be simple to treat with early intervention, but unfortunately the longer you go without treatment, the more you will need to do to gain control of your illness. In addition, the longer you delay treatment the more time you will lose to unnecessary pain and suffering. Making a decision not to allow migraine to take over another day of your life should be all the motivation you need to get started on the path to headache-free days.
Q: When I think about changing my lifestyle I feel overwhelmed. How do I get started?
A: Lifestyle changes with any chronic illness can be overwhelming. The more you understand migraine, the easier it will be to make these changes. The key to success is to start with a plan. Allow time for relaxation and exercise. Begin your dietary changes by reviewing your current eating habits, and then start to eliminate foods that trigger migraine. Finally, identify the areas that are creating stress and begin to solve the relevant problems.
Q: I find myself being fearful of the next migraine attack. How can I become more confident?
A: You need to give yourself and the treatment program time to work. Success breeds success. A comprehensive treatment program will reduce the frequency and severity of your migraine attacks. In time, you will become more confident that you can prevent attacks and control those you do have. Stay dedicated to your treatment program, document your success in your migraine diary, and have patience. It takes time to treat such a chronic illness.
Q: Avoiding food triggers makes sense, but it is so difficult. Will I always have to avoid them?
A: The extent to which you need to restrict intake of certain foods or beverages depends on the frequency of your attacks and your circumstances. If you have frequent attacks and need preventive migraine medications, then restricting dietary triggers and reducing stress is crucial for the best outcome. On the other hand, if migraine attacks are infrequent, then an occasional food trigger will be less likely to trigger an attack. Beware: consuming a food trigger when other migraine triggers are present may be all it takes to push you over the edge into a severe attack.
Q: I seem to do well until something unexpected happens and then I have a migraine attack. What can I do to avoid a migraine?
A: You cannot anticipate every possible situation that could trigger a migraine, so the best defense against a migraine attack is to have your illness as well controlled as possible. Migraine is an illness of the stress response system; therefore, whenever you are under stress you are more vulnerable to an attack. It is important that you maintain your treatment program during stressful circumstances. You need to continue your exercise and relaxation routine, get adequate rest, and stick with your migraine diet.
Q: People are a pain; they give me a headache. How do I avoid the stress caused by dealing with people?
A: There is no doubt that some people can be a real challenge. The first step is to remind yourself not to waste your serotonin (a calming brain chemical) on people who annoy you. When you become upset or frustrated with someone, your brain releases epinephrine (an activating brain chemical), which can trigger a migraine attack. The key is to limit your interaction and decide how much effort you want to invest in the relationship. If the relationship is important, then you may need a third party to help find a resolution.
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