Gridlocked By Good Advice

When you get migraine everyone, I mean everyone, has an opinion as to what you should do. They’re only too pleased to tell you about the one true thing that they believe will fix you. Because it worked for them. Or for the woman down the road. Or their hairdresser’s cousin. They share it with you with absolute conviction. No room for doubt or uncertainty.

They say it with kindness. They want to help. Their intentions are good.

But, what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for someone else.

Just for the record, I’m not talking about the ones who think you should ‘just buck yourself up’ because there’s nothing really wrong with you. We’ll sweep those charmers to one side through a door marked “Thanks but no thanks”.

But, where does all this well-meaning advice leave you? Especially if you’re sick of broken promises. You are gridlocked by good advice, left feeling overwhelmed as to what to do next.

For example, a question about natural cures for migraines threw up this selection of answers:

  • Brain freeze. Put ice cold water into your mouth and hold it.
  • Peppermint oil
  • Magnesium
  • Make changes to your lifestyle
  • Don’t eat wheat
  • Don’t eat sugar
  • Practice self-love to get rid of anger

Let’s pause and go back to that original cry for help: natural cures for migraine.

Everyone would love a cure for migraine – and why the hell not? Migraine symptoms are debilitating and disabling. But, we can’t go on masking the symptoms. What’s beneficial here is learning how to take back control in ways that help lessen the impact migraine has on you.

That’s why one response jumps out for me: make changes to your lifestyle. What I’ve learned is how important this is for reducing both the impact and severity of migraine. It’s a valuable piece of the migraine jigsaw puzzle. As is figuring out how to do this in a way that is meaningful, achievable and practical and that fits into your everyday life.

What about the practicing self-love to get rid of anger? There is a kernel of truth in there. Although not in a – let’s stand around in a circle holding hands singing Good Morning Starshine – kind of a way.

Emotions do have a role to play but not in the way you get told. You don’t get migraine because you are too highly strung, too weak or a malingerer. It’s not about shame. It’s about biology.

To deal with migraine and live your life takes courage and strength.

The part of your brain that is responsible for physical pain is in the same region as the part that’s responsible for emotional pain; the anterior cingulate cortex and the anterior insula. When someone feels emotional pain, the region for physical pain gets activated too. What’s wired together, fires together.

The upside to this is that you can learn to change this for the better. You can learn to quieten down the hyper active connection between physical and emotional pain that gets triggered when you experience chronic pain, like migraine. You simply need to give it a little time, patience and practice.

What of those other pieces of advice? If you find something that helps lessen the impact migraine has on you; fantastic. Less migraine in the world is a good thing.

But, what if you’ve tried lots of things already? First of all don’t despair, especially if you’ve had migraines for 15, 20 or 30+ years. What I’ve learnt and experienced is that in this situation a more rounded, comprehensive approach works best.

One that also doesn’t add more restrictions to your life. Migraine is already enough about ‘don’t do/can’t do’. The solution shouldn’t add to that. Rather it should give you more space, time and energy by setting you free of confining limitations.

That’s my take on it. Yours might be different. What’s important is what works best for you.

So, how do you break out of the gridlock of overwhelming advice?

A great place to start is to ask yourself this question: What would you most love to change about migraine? It’s possible that your answer may surprise you. One thing’s for sure though; gaining clarity on this will help you to see a way forward.