Lisa's story

The anxiety came next, worrying about maybe getting a migraine

Lisa and her daughter

I had my first migraine when I was eight years old. It lasted for three days and my poor mum had no idea what was happening. It took a while for my doctor to officially diagnose me as I was so young but by the age of 12 it was finally recognised and I was prescribed migraine specific medication.

My migraines have never been frequent enough for me to take preventive medication and over the last 30 years, they have changed in nature. When I was in my teens, they were at their worst. I used to panic, especially at school as my teachers didn’t really understand the severity of it and often thought I was trying to get out of classes.

Aura

It was at this time that the aura started, which was terrifying. When it happened the first time, I thought I was having a stroke. The zig zag lines in my vision, the loss of spatial awareness, my hearing going very echoey, all had me in a state of panic. And of course, then came the debilitating pain that forced me into a dark room, sometimes for days. The anxiety came next, worrying about maybe getting a migraine.

As I got older, my migraine changed. At first, they got worse. The aura continued to develop and I started experiencing numbness and pins and needles in one side of my face and my fingers. The sensation would start in my thumb then move across my fingers before it disappeared. The migraine medication stopped working and I had to look for alternative pain killers.

Now, at 36, I would say that I have my migraine under control. By that I mean that I have a coping strategy that helps to keep the anxiety at bay. I still experience the aura stage by I am lucky that the headache stage is a lot less severe than it used to be. If I take painkillers as soon as the aura starts, the headache seems to be minimised. But, I never know when I am going to get an attack or just how bad it is going to be.

Daughter now gets migraine

Unfortunately, I seem to have come full circle and my ten year old daughter now gets migraine. She had her first one when she was eight but the doctor wouldn’t diagnose her as she is so young. Over the counter painkillers no longer work for her and she finds them very debilitating. She had her first experience of an aura a couple of months ago. She described it as feeling dizzy and everything looking blurry. As someone with migraine, I am convinced that she is experiencing migraine but without a proper diagnosis, the school have been reluctant to listen to her when she says she has a headache and she has often come home in floods of tears and simply slept all afternoon.

It was frustrating for me as a child, that people didn’t really understand what it meant to have a migraine, but it saddens me that now that even though there is a better understanding, there are still obstacles to be overcome.

The views and opinions expressed in this ‘Migraine story’ are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Migraine Trust.