Pippa's story

I am so grateful for the support of my friends and family

Pippa Mesley

Where to start?

I think my migraines first began properly when I was in primary school, about aged 9 or 10.

I’d wake up on a morning with an extreme headache, my mum would call up my school to say I was ill and an hour or so later I’d be crying in pain and repeatedly vomiting our whatever contents of my stomach was left (sorry if that’s too much information!).

These started as reasonably rare occurrences, about once a month, but during my final year of primary school they became far more regular, up to three times a week, lasting 24 hours each time.

I was missing so much school that I got into the habit of going to school with the migraine for an hour or so while it was only the headache, and then calling my mum to pick me up when the vomiting started.

A diagnosis and treatment

At this point I’d been to the doctors multiple times and been told that it was a just headache, and was prescribed paracetamol and ibuprofen, neither of which even touched the headaches, let alone the vomiting.

Thankfully the frequency decreased to two or three times a month when I was at secondary school, but still only being armed with over the counter pain medication, I was still missing far too much school and was still in huge amounts of pain.

I think I was about 15 or 16 the doctors actually started taking me seriously and diagnosed me with migraines. I was prescribed sumatriptan, and when I first started taking it, it seemed like the miracle drug! I could take it at the start of a migraine and usually within the hour I was able to walk around and actually participate in normal life.

Changing migraine

Recently (age 18), however, my migraines have become more sporadic. They used to start in the evening or morning, and last almost exactly 24 hours, but now they’re all over the place, often lasting longer, and the headaches reach a strength of pain that I honestly can’t bear.

Sometimes the sumatriptan works, but those times are becoming less and less frequent, so (surprise surprise) I’m going back to the doctors.

Not just a headache

As many people have said on here, one of the hardest things to cope with is people seeing migraines as just headaches. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve been accused of ‘milking it’ and being a ‘drama queen’ (by students and teachers), and it’s incredibly upsetting to have that pain invalidated by people who are unaware of what a migraine is.

I usually have a pretty high pain threshold but I am completely flawed by these migraines. Still! I have my fingers crossed that I will find something that works for me and I am so grateful for the support of my friends and family. (It took me a while to persuade my friends that they weren’t just headaches but after a particularly nasty attack at a group sleepover… I think they got the gist…).

I wish the best of luck to anyone else suffering with migraine and I hope this has helped you in some way, if only to demonstrate that you’re not alone.

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.