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World Brain Day - Me and My Migraine

This year the topic of World Brain Day is migraine. Natalie shares her own experience of living with migraines and talks about the importance of speaking about it to those around her.

My migraines, aren’t just a ‘bad headache’…

My symptoms usually start with severe eye pain either in the left or right eye, followed by nausea, dizziness and sometimes blurred vision. It is often accompanied by vomiting and the spreading of pain across my head.

I have suffered from migraines for as long as I can remember. I find that since it is an invisible illness, not everyone understands my situation. It can be difficult to express exactly how I am feeling and how it affects me – after all, it can affect everyone differently including me!

It isn’t just the time during the migraine that is hard and painful. I find the aftermath extremely exhausting and it can wipe me out for a short while, causing me to cancel on social plans or need a day off work. Even though my family and friends are very supportive, I can’t help but sometimes feel guilty and like I have let someone down.

I have tried different medications and doses from different GPs and specialists over the years, first starting when I was 14. Soon after I began revising for my GCSEs at school; followed by A-Levels, and then a degree at University. All had different pressures. I received support at University, who were there to extend any deadlines I might need and support me in different ways by talking to my lecturers and seminar leaders.

After 7 years of being in an intense learning environment, I thought I had managed to control my migraines or at least learned how to cope! However, transitioning into a professional full-time working life after having been in education for a long time was still a challenge.

Flexible working hours and home working have definitely helped me, especially if I am just recovering from a migraine and the thought about facing the commute to work is causing extra stress.

I think it’s vital when you are ready, to talk to your employer or manager.

It’s important that they are aware that you do have a neurological problem, and will occasionally need time off to be able to overcome a migraine attack It’s also important to re-iterate that with migraines, more often than not you don’t know exactly when this will be.

Once you have helped your employer understand, they might be able to give you the opportunity to adapt certain things about the working environment you are in and offer more flexibility in how you are able to work. Flexible working hours and home working have definitely helped me, especially if I am just recovering from a migraine and the thought about facing the commute to work is causing extra stress.

Although it can be difficult to begin the conversation, I have found that once other people are aware and have an understanding it takes away some of the pressure and worries that I face.

- Natalie


If you have any questions or want to speak to someone about your migraines, you can call our free and confidential helpline on 0808 808 1000