Staying motivated is hard …

I never used to be one to struggle to get motivated. I loved early mornings, quick starts and would always be the first one to be up and about. Since being diagnosed with chronic migraine, finding motivation can be extremely difficult. Why would I want to get up at the crack of dawn? Why would I want to even contemplate leaving my bed on the days I felt like this? So many ‘Whys?’ would continue to take over my little brain and lets be honest, your bed is always more comfy when you have to leave it!

 

 

motivation

 

 

Having learnt to recently accept that this is my ‘normal’ I decided enough was enough. Ok, I may not be stuck like this forever but I can’t hibernate, I can’t shut myself away. It was time to make a change.

 

My first point may seem a little silly and it may be quite obvious to some but getting up, getting dressed and having a plan for the day has made a huge difference to me. Making that initial decision to leave my bed, have a bath, put on fresh clothes and make myself look semi presentable even if I am staying at home helps a lot. It not only means that I am alert and awake, it means I am not lazing around in my pyjamas, tucked up in bed with no enthusiasm. Some days I may get fully dressed, others I may just put on some comfortable lounge wear and an oversized hoodie but the difference is making the choice to actually get up and wake up properly so that the day has a beginning.

 

 

Although I have always been good at keeping on top of things, not falling behind too much and being organised, I was never one to make ‘lists’. However, lists and notes may have become one of the best ideas. Whether it is notes reminding me of appointments, what I need to do at work that day, what I have planned for the week or daily to do lists, my phone is full of notes and is a reminder of everything that I need to achieve. When speaking to those who have chronic migraine or other chronic illnesses, you may often hear the term ‘brain fog’ being used. It is something that I will write a separate post about but is something I suffer with and therefore, notes and lists have become essential throughout my recovery.

 

 

It is important that your brain and mind are both feeling fresh and on top of themselves. An unclear mind isn’t healthy for anyone and therefore drinking plenty of fluids and eating well is important. I have never struggled with drinking lots of water and it definitely helps me feel better. Drinking plenty helps to keep you focused and by eating well it ensures that you have plenty of energy. By eating a bad diet you will feel lethargic and this does not help motivation. Now, I’m not saying you have to completely cut out the rubbish, I mean who doesn’t love a treat? But constantly filling your body with bad foods is only going to make you feel worse.

 

 

Remembering to take a break and have ‘rest time’ has definitely helped me throughout the day. When I feel like enough is enough and its only early afternoon, taking five to re gather my thoughts, have a drink and a bit of time out really helps to pick me back up and get going again. It is okay if you need to have several breaks throughout the day, take as many as YOU need too and take the time that YOU need to start again.

 

Regulating my sleep pattern is something I have had to learn to control. I used to have late nights, late mornings, early nights, early mornings and my sleep pattern was all over the place. The odd late night is okay but learning when to put your phone down and cut off technology is important. I now get between 7-10 hours of sleep a night, I don’t use my phone much after 10pm and I often leave it downstairs so that I do not have it with me whilst I am trying to get to sleep. On most evenings, I now fall asleep anywhere between 10 and 11pm and will wake up around 8-9am the next morning. Even on my days off, or days that I do not have much planned, I will stick to this as much as I can and it has really helped me with feeling motivated for my day. I feel awake, refreshed and as my family would say, a lot less grouchy!

 

 

Pacing myself is something I will probably always have a little trouble with. I like things to happen quickly, I like answers and I don’t do waiting but I am learning too. I am learning that not everything happens overnight and this is important when staying motivated. You have to set little goals, little achievable goals and you have to recognise when these goals have been achieved. It is important not to put unwanted pressure on yourself and don’t rush things. Take your time, pace yourself. If something takes you that little bit longer, does it matter? Do things at a pace that is right for you.

 

 

I would love to hear any of your motivational tips and tricks and your thoughts on staying motivated. I am always open to trying new things!

 

Love Vicky x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My relationship with alcohol …

Well, here is the truth. There isn’t one … and to me, this isn’t a big deal but to a lot of other people, it is and at first this bothered me but now, not so much.

 

Although I have never been a massive drinker, since turning 18 a few years ago, I have definitely enjoyed my fair share of drinks. I was never a ‘bad drunk’ but I have enjoyed being social with friends and have most definitely had evenings where I have had one too many rounds in ‘Spoons’.

 

However this didn’t last long. At the age of 20, I decided drink just wasn’t for me. At least not for now anyway.

 

Being in your early teens and not drinking is often seen as ‘abnormal’. Why wouldn’t I want to go out and drink? Why wouldn’t I want to go out and go clubbing? Having a migraine means 9/10 you feel permanently hungover. Depending on the severity of your migraines or the type that you suffer with, depends on whether you also have a constant background headache alongside this. For me, I have a permanent headache so the thought of a real hangover on top of this is enough for me to have learnt that enough was enough. Alcohol is one of the biggest migraine triggers for me and knowing this I decided to  not risk consuming anymore. After all, like everyone else, I wanted to get better didn’t I?

 

Now, I’m not saying alcohol is the reason I don’t go out as much as I used to, however, I definitely think it plays a part. If my friends are planning a wild night out, although they still ask, I’m pretty certain they already know my answer and to those who simply don’t invite me out anymore, there’s probably a reason why we no longer talk. I couldn’t think of anything worse than standing in an overcrowded club, flashing lights, blaring music etc and  I will 100% take a quiet coffee date during the day over anything. For those who I’ve said no to in the past, I can only apologise now if I never explained why.

 

If someone offers you a drink and you don’t want one, don’t feel pressured into saying yes. You also don’t need to explain, put yourself first and don’t give in to the pressures of those around you. To others, ‘just the one won’t hurt’ but to us and all of the other migraine sufferers, one is more than enough.

 

Maybe in the future I will enjoy a glass or two but for now, alcohol is not my friend and that’s okay. Remember, it’s one step at a time …

 

Love Vicky x

 

 

 

Be kind to yourself and look after your body …

Learning to reduce my migraines without reaching for medication was one thing I will openly admit I found most difficult. At first, searching for that paracetamol or taking that dose of ibuprofen became all too easy, it became a pattern and although psychologically I felt like it was helping, it made no difference. It didn’t touch me. It was almost as if I was scared that without it, things would get worse, something might change. What if this one dose does help? What if this is it?

 

Lifestyle changes haven’t been easy and they take a while to get used too but since being diagnosed, I have learnt that you must be kind to your body, you must protect it and you must listen to it. Some of the things that have worked for me may not help, they may make no difference but without trying something you will never know. Advice that people have suggested I have sometimes shrugged off, I have been arrogant and ignored what others have suggested and to those people, I can only apologise. Advice that has sounded silly and unimportant has often made the most difference to me and many of these things are so simple and easy.

 

Time. Time is one of the most important things. Time to yourself, time to get better, time to heal. Nothing happens overnight. Time passes so quickly but it is important to take time daily to just give yourself five minutes. Whether that be a quiet lay down, a short walk if you are up for it, a relaxing bath or five minutes reading or listening to some calming music. Taking the time to give yourself some head space and shut yourself off just for a little bit, will help to improve the way you think and feel about yourself.  Before being diagnosed, I was always the girl who would say yes. I would say yes to everything. My days would not stop and I would keep going and going but I now listen when enough is enough. If I need a nap, if i need a stroll, I will make sure I do just that.

 

I have never been one to enjoy exercise. I have tried joining my local gyms in the past and failed at going. I never had the enthusiasm or get up and go and especially with migraines, the gym is the last place you would want to be. The lights, the noise, the smell and the overcrowding of people is enough to put anyone off. However, for those with chronic illnesses, exercise doesn’t have to be anything major. Ever since I was little, I have always enjoyed the outdoors. I have grown up in a family of outdoor lovers and this has definitely helped me during my recovery. Being able to step outside, take a short walk or a longer one when I am feeling up too it has definitely improved things. Being outside makes you feel grounded, it emphasises the fact that there is more to your life than letting your migraines win and there is a lot more out there than the four walls of your bedroom.

 

Changing my diet is something that I have experimented a lot with. Processed foods are no longer my friends and although I struggle to avoid them, I will eat fresh foods as much as I can. We all have days where we just want ‘junk’ and for those days, I certainly pay for it. I have had my ups and downs with gluten and wheat and although having had several blood tests for Coeliac Disease all come back to me clear, I do feel better when I eat less bulky foods. I have cut down on my intake of bread and pasta and wholesome foods and I try to avoid cakes (as hard as it is) and biscuits and foods which are too fatty. A few years ago I hated the thought of being different when it came to what I ate and my diet to some may seem pretty plain now but it’s about what works for you.

 

As for caffeine. Caffeine is a monster to me. For some migraine sufferers, caffeine is the answer and a red bull or a strong coffee actually takes their migraine pain away but for me, caffeine certainly does the opposite. Not only does it not help the pain, it changes my attitudes and mood and as my family like to call it, when the ‘caffeine monster’ hits, I am not a pleasant person to be around so avoiding caffeine for me, is a massive help.

 

I have never been one to struggle with staying hydrated and although I never used to be a big fan, plain old water has slowly become my friend. Purchasing a water bottle, as simple as it sounds has been one of my best purchases. Whether it be a large or small one, keeping in control and knowing how much fluid you are putting into your body definitely helps.

 

It wasn’t until recently that I started to use essential oils. This was something I had been very sceptical of and wasn’t convinced that it would make a difference – how wrong could I have been? Why didn’t I do this sooner? By rubbing a little lavender or peppermint oil into your temples and or back of your neck, it really helps to calm the muscles and relieve any tension and stress that may have built or be building up. If you are unsure of applying it to your skin, add a small amount to a tissue and breathe it in or add a similar amount to some warm water and do some gentle steam inhalation. For me, all of these things have helped to keep the pressure within my face down and because of its calming affect, makes you feel a lot more at ease.

 

My ‘hottie’ is also a great friend of mine. Whilst some find ice great for their headaches and migraines, for me, heat is the answer. The feeling of warmth whether it be on the head itself or sometimes on the stomach really helps with the overall well feeling. Buying a hottie which could just be placed in the microwave at any moment, takes the pressure off of boiling a kettle or going to any effort when on your worst days, you really aren’t feeling all too up to it.

 

These are just some of the things that I have gradually added to my life to make things a little easier. Of course, they aren’t fixes, they aren’t a cure but they have all helped me and I’m hoping they will help you too. One step at a time …

 

Love Vicky x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A little more about me …

Having recently opened up and put my story out there and having spoken to many of you about your personal stories, here is a little bit more about me …

My Happy Place

    • I have recently turned 23
    • I was born and raised in England and currently still live here
    • I work part-time in retail and although it might not be where I want to be in the long run, deep down I am not ashamed to say that I love my little job and feel extremely lucky to have been able to hold a job down
    • I have an older sister. We may fight, we may argue but secretly she is my best friend
    • The outdoors is my favourite place to be
    • Going for long walks is my idea of relaxing and I can’t think of anything better than sticking on a pair of wellies and going for a stroll
    • Alcohol is not my friend and therefore I don’t drink
    • I often wonder why celery exists …
    • Although I still have both of my kidneys, one doesn’t work properly
    • I don’t drive and although I am not allowed to drive because of my migraines, I don’t have much of an interest in learning either
    • My taste in music changes constantly. I love country and I also like recent music. As long as I can understand the words ( I don’t enjoy rap), I am open to listening to anything
    • Cosey, oversized jumpers and fluffy socks are my go to
    • I love Mickey Mouse and all things Disney
    • Cheese is disgusting in my opinion and I couldn’t think of anything worse than eating melted cheese or pizza
    • Neighbours and Love Island are the only two shows I will religiously follow
    • Although my blog is new, I have wanted to start it for a long time and have been writing posts for a while. Up until recently I just didn’t have the confidence to hit that publish button but I am so glad that I did
    • When I was younger I wanted to be a nurse and spent my time at school studying health and social care
    • My passion still lies within nursing and one day I would love to pursue this
    • I am extremely easy going
    • I don’t take life too seriously although I know when to be serious
    • i consume way too many chicken nuggets and eat way too much cake
    • Family is extremely important and I would be lost without both them and my boyfriend

 

Mickey

I would love to get to know you too so please don’t be afraid to drop me a message.

 

Love Vicky x

 

 

Stuck in a guilty bubble …

When suffering from a chronic illness, the feeling of guilt is one you can often find yourself getting a little too used to. Although, deep down you know things are not your fault or things are not always in your control, you cannot help that guilty feeling in the pit of your stomach when you are not always one hundred per cent yourself. We all have bad days and that is completely okay but it is accepting that it is okay that is the hurdle and celebrating the positive things.

 

For me personally, I used to carry a lot of guilt and I carried this guilt for a few reasons;

 

I do not like letting other people down.

 

I consider myself to be a fairly easy going, happy and considerate kind of person and as said in previous posts, I don’t like letting others down. Although I am lucky that a lot of my friends and family are understanding, still, knowing that you have had to let someone down and cancel on them, still hurts. Just as much as you, they had been looking forward to that coffee or that day out and knowing that you couldn’t do it today just hangs over you. Would they ever cancel on me? Would they let me down?

 

Saying no at the last minute.

 

Having to cancel on others at the last minute is something I have found most difficult. Whether that be going for coffee, drinks out, a day trip or even a dentist or similar appointment, some days, yes we can do it, we can push ourselves but on occasions, no really is the only answer. We can’t push ourselves too far, we can’t ‘just get on with it’ and although things may have been planned for a while, today just isn’t the day.

 

Letting work down.

 

Since being employed, I am extremely lucky that one, I have been able to hold down a job but two, I have had management that have been supportive and understanding. However, on days when I can’t manage, knowing that I have phoned in ‘sick’ last minute or knowing that I can’t manage and there are others on holiday or also off, not only fills me with guilt but it puts unwanted pressure on other people and that itself is not a nice feeling.

 

Feeling lazy.

 

You spend your  days curled up in bed, you mope around, you have little energy and you feel as though you are just wasting time. You feel sluggish, drained, have no enthusiasm to do anything and yet you feel guilty for all of this. You feel guilty for not getting things done, for not doing that washing or finishing that job when you see what others have been able to do with their day.

 

Dragging other people to appointments.

 

The first time I attended a hospital appointment, taking someone with me was fine and I thought nothing of it – It was just one appointment and a few hours out of my mums day. However, as time went on and I realised how regular these appointments were becoming, knowing I cannot attend most appointments on my own, makes me feel horrible. I cannot count how many hours my family have sat with me waiting. How many trips to London they have made, how many car journeys they have sat in, how many times they have visited me in hospital and how much work they have also missed. I know they care and I know that they want to be there but surely they have better things to do?

 

Carrying guilt is not good for anyone. Not only is it not a nice feeling but it adds unwanted stress to the body and doesn’t make us feel any better. Remember, you have no control over this, there is no shame in being chronically ill and you are not to blame. It is important to make yourself and others aware that no matter what, you are trying your best. Although it may not seem enough, you are putting your all into getting through your day at a pace that is suitable for you.

 

Although I still spend some of my time with guilt hanging over me, I have realised that what is going on, isn’t my fault.  You have to celebrate and highlight what you are able to do, what you have achieved and everything moving forward. It isn’t a case of what you can’t do, it is a case of when will you be able to do it? We often ignore all of this and focus on the negative things but the positive things are a massive deal.

 

I have also learnt that small goals are important. Instead of creating massive plans and coming up with goals which are unrealistic, create small achievable goals. Instead of having a long list of things to achieve in one day, spread them out or highlight the fact that you have managed to get a few of those things done rather than panic and worry that you haven’t achieved any of it. Rather than planning full days out, plan an hour or so. Head out for a coffee and if you last half an hour that’s okay, if you last longer, even better. Do as much as YOU can manage and don’t feel guilty if you can’t do anymore.

 

I am not saying this is it. I am not saying this will cure all of your guilt but slowly you will learn to drop the guilt. You’re doing your best. Just one step at a time …

 

Love Vicky x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You don’t look sick. A migraine? That is just a bad headache right?

Chronic illnesses may often be invisible but they exist. Just because you can’t see that someone is in pain, doesn’t mean they are fine. Just because you can’t see someones’ tears, doesn’t mean they aren’t crying and just because someone may look ‘cured’, chances are they are putting on a brave face and making the most of a manageable few hours. All of these things hurt. Words hurt. Comments hurt. Migraines may technically be ‘in our heads’ but believe us when we say they are real, they are painful. Do you need to see something to believe that it is real?

 

My blog journey is about understanding. As a little community, gaining an understanding of the unknown and creating awareness for an often invisible illness that is out there a lot more often than you may realise. The symptoms may be silent but they are present.

 

One thing we aren’t looking for is sympathy, in fact we are looking for anything but. We aren’t after a quick fix either but at the same time, we want to be fixed quickly?

 

You may think you know a lot about migraines or you may know nothing at all but until you have experienced one first hand, I can promise you, you will never go through anything quite like it. Things you could once do that you thought would never change, suddenly become increasingly more difficult. Smells you once loved will make you nauseous and at times, as much as you appreciate your sense of hearing, all you will wish for is silence.

 

Although it can be difficult at times to distinguish the difference between a headache and a migraine, headaches and migraines are not the same thing.

 

I’ll be the first to admit, having never experienced a migraine before my first one struck, I did not realise how intense they were. When those who suffered had previously told me how sick they felt, how tired they were and how disabling they made them seem, I often thought ‘It can’t be that bad, nothing a little sleep and a few painkillers won’t get rid of’. How wrong was I? How guilty do I feel now? And how much do I hate the words ‘just take a few painkillers and sleep it off?’

 

Migraines usually begin in early adulthood and are especially common in women and are said to affect more than 1 in 5 women and 1 in 15 men.  Having Chronic Migraine typically means you suffer from more than 15 migraine days per month.  For me, my first migraine struck when I was around 16/17, studying for my A-levels and at a time when I really needed to focus on my education and finding my first part-time job – again, not ideal but something I will come back to another time.

 

A migraine is a lot more than ‘just a bad headache’. Although the main symptom is often head pain, the term migraine refers to a severe pain that is usually felt on one side of the head and tends to be a throbbing pain accompanied by sensitivity to light, sound, smells and often makes those who suffer nauseous and vomit.  However this is not always the case and every individual migraine case is different and needs to be treated specifically aimed at the individual themselves.

 

Like many migraine sufferers, my migraines bring with them other symptoms which are not often highlighted when googling the term ‘migraine’. My body can go numb and I feel lethargic and restless from aching joints and muscles. I am often spaced out, dizzy and in a complete foggy state. When a migraine hits, my co-ordination will completely go. I feel like I am constantly hungover but I can assure you, the last thing I would want is alcohol. I may look with it but 9/10 I do not hear what you say. I could look the best I have looked in ages and look completely well but underneath that, I have a constant background headache that does not go away. Migraines are disabling.

 

So the next time someone says ‘I suffer from migraines’, It is not always what it seems. Please think twice before you respond and please be kind.

 

Love Vicky x

 

 

 

 

My Story

My name is Vicky, I am 23 and I suffer from chronic daily headache alongside chronic migraines and daily episodes of chronic fatigue.

 

Up until a few years ago, I was a fairly active person. I was into anything and everything and I would always be the one to put my hand up and say yes at pretty much any given opportunity. For me, this is what made everything seem so much harder at the time.

 

I became confused. How was it possible to go from this to spending my days inside almost overnight when my first chronic headache struck? I had experienced occasional headaches before you know when you’ve been watching too much TV and your parents are nagging you to turn it off or you know you really should have listened when your mum told you to drink that extra glass of water kind of headache? But I had never experienced anything like this. How was my brain suddenly making me stay in bed when I could be outside? Why didn’t I want to go out? Why didn’t I want to be social? My friends would be there. Why wouldn’t I want to be there? WHAT WAS WRONG WITH ME?

 

All of these questions circled my head and just like that, I became a girl who was full of fear and panic. (I’ll come back to this another time)

 

Having suffered for just over 6 years now, to say I am fed up is an understatement. However, in that time I have grown up a lot quicker than most, my thoughts and opinions have and are slowly changing and I have realised that you can’t let these fears and feelings get the better of you. Yes, I know this is easier said than done but it is okay to put yourself first sometimes and it is okay to have experienced different things in those years than other people have.

 

Okay, maybe I didn’t attend university and maybe I don’t have degrees or qualifications that other people have but that doesn’t make me any less of a person. That doesn’t hold me back anymore and goals are still achievable. I’ve managed to obtain a job for the past 7 years and for me, that is a massive thing.

 

There are days where you have negative thoughts, you take one step forward and then a million steps back but in order to progress, you have to have setbacks. Not everything is going to work, not every treatment you try is going to be a miracle cure as much as we all would like it to be. However, you definitely get the days – maybe far few and in between, where things are okay and you think, yes, actually I have got this and I can do it and this is what we have to focus on. You are in control.

 

Those that know me, know that I like everything to happen pretty quickly. I am not one to be very patient at times and this has always hindered my situation. However, instead of constantly thinking about a permanent fix, I have learnt that it is about reducing and managing each day as it comes and that is why I want to share my experience with other people. What has worked for me, may not work for others. Things I have tried, may make no difference but without sharing, we will never know.

 

So that is my aim. Put out there what I have been through, share my symptoms, tips and tricks and raise awareness that migraines and headaches are not the same thing, these illnesses are real and that it is okay not to be okay.

 

Believe me, I am along way off from where I want to be but that is okay.

 

I am hoping that by doing this, it will make things easier for others, little by little, taking it all one step at a time.

 

Vicky x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome

Hello and welcome to Migraine and Me.

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The aim of this little blog is for anyone out there, those of you who suffer and those of you who don’t, to gain an understanding and know that first and foremost, you are not alone.

Guaranteed, there are people out there reading this right now with questions they are scared to ask, opinions they are frightened to voice and a whole lot of emotion bottled up inside which we all know, isn’t good for anyone.

I can’t say whether or not this is going to help you but what I can do, is put my story out there and hopefully put across that yes, you can do it. You can get through the bad days. Things may not seem achievable right now and your journey may not be easy but together, we can all get there and as I have learnt …

It is okay to do it, one step at a time.

Vicky x