Over the past ten years, my migraines have become increasingly frequent and more painful. I’m currently suffering with week long migraines around once a month, and smaller, 24 hour (or less) migraines every few days.
These migraine attacks are extremely disabling. I can’t see, I can’t stop throwing up, and I feel like there’s a knife being twisted into the right side of my head. As well as the physical symptoms, they make me feel depressed. Migraines are stealing so many of my days, making me cancel so many of my plans, and forcing me to spend far too much time in my darkened bedroom.
Some people might think this sounds dramatic, but I just want to make it clear that a migraine isn’t just a headache, it’s an excruciating pain that stops you from living your life.
Why do I get migraines?
Migraines are a medical mystery according to the million doctors I’ve seen over the past ten years. Unless you have a very obvious trigger (for instance, you notice you always get a migraine after you eat a certain food, or smell a particular perfume etc.), you’re very unlikely to find out what the cause is.
This frustrates me so much. I get migraines when I eat junk food, when I’ve been on a strict diet, when I’m happy, stressed, angry, full of energy or absolutely drained. I very often feel useless that I can’t control my own body.
So the doctors have decided that all they can focus on is preventative methods of treatment… which brings me on to my next section of failed attempts.
What have I tried so far?
The Migraine Trust‘s description of beta-blockers for migraines: “These drugs have several actions and are used to treat people with high blood pressure, but are also effective in treating migraine. They reduce activity of the brain cells involved in migraine.”
I’ve tried two types of beta-blockers over the past eight years. I first tried Propranolol when I was 14. At the time this worked really well, but as a stupid teenager, I could’t be bothered to take them any longer as I thought I was cured, so I stopped. My migraines were okay for a year or two after this, then came back with a vengeance.
I spent the next six years just taking painkillers whenever I got a migraine, which was once every few months while I was at college and university. This didn’t seem like a big deal to me, so I didn’t bother going back to the doctors.
Since starting full-time work last May, my migraines have been horrendous, so the doctors tried me on Propranolol again. It made me super sleepy this time around, so they switched me to 50mg of Atenolol, a different beta-blocker, a day.
On this dosage on Atenolol, I was still getting frequent migraines, so was told to up it to 100mg a day. This was still ineffective, so the doctors decided that beta-blockers don’t really work for me, and I’m now trying a TCA.
The Migraine Trust says that Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) “were previously used for depression, however, they are also effective at preventing migraine. They can be helpful in people with migraine who also have difficulty sleeping. Tricyclic antidepressants are thought to block the re-uptake of 5-HT and norepinephrine and may block 5-HT2 receptors.”
I’m currently weaning myself off of beta-blockers, and starting my course of these in a couple of weeks, so will keep you all updated! I’m also waiting on blood test results to check that I have no abnormalities or deficiencies that are causing my migraines, so fingers crossed this all comes back clear!
In next month’s Migraine diaries, I plan to tell you all what I do to help/stop my migraines, and what alternative methods I’m planning on trying in the near future.
Do you suffer from migraines? If so, what have you tried to stop them?