Tuesday 3 December 2019

Migraines, Study, and My Mental Health

Ehsana shares her experience of migraines, study, and mental health with some tips and advice to get through for those who are facing similar problems. 
- Ehsana Tazrian

Migraine is a real issue that many people can fail to understand these days. It is an extreme throbbing pain on one side of your head that can cause nausea as well as vomiting. In my experience, people can confuse migraines with normal headaches which might go away after you take some rest and some medication, whereas if you are suffering from a migraine, even the light becomes an enemy. The sound of people talking pierces your ears, and all you want to do is crawl up into your bed in the dark for hours … but still don’t feel any better. I have experienced migraines for three years, and although initially different doctors explained it as the consequence of either sight problems, sleep deprivation or excessive screen-time, the solutions they prescribed made no difference.

Experiencing frequent unexplained migraines had a significant impact on both my studies and my mental health. I couldn’t study for too long or even look at the screen more than an hour; my head felt like bursting and at times I used to blackout. I could never take too much stress or else I would end up with a migraine, but having migraines increased my stress about my studies; it became a vicious cycle and both my studies and my mental health suffered. It was getting worse day by day and at one point I struggled with migraines for four days straight, causing me not to eat or sleep. I ended up crawling into my bed under my blanket and cried. Often though, I felt that everybody dismissed my suffering. I felt hopeless and alone with my pain where I couldn’t even expect people to understand what I was going through. I could not tell them people how I was feeling, nor I could bear the throbbing headache which made me blackout. I stayed silent and suffered and eventually I learned how to deal with it without screaming my lungs out. 

This all had an impact on my mental health and wellbeing because it impacted on my self-confidence about my studies. It also put a distressing strain on my relationships with friends and family who I felt did not understand, and who I sometimes was unable to be around when my migraines were really bad. Being in unbearable pain a lot of the time and unable to eat or sleep was really draining, and effected my energy levels and my mood; I felt drained and exhausted a lot of the time and unable to enjoy things which I normally would. Eventually I visited a doctor and found that my experiences were the symptoms of migraines. The doctor didn’t prescribe me many medicines. She told me to get at least 8 hours of sleep and I rest my eyes every half an hour while using a screen. Soon it got better, and whilst I don’t get migraines as frequently as before, it still haunts me sometimes.

So for the people who are suffering from migraines and the effects this may have on your study and/or mental health; I know how it feels and it can seem like a living nightmare, which is why I would like to give you some tips and advice for how to get through this. From my experience, I would recommend trying to get proper sleep even if it means, at times, sacrificing your social life. Staying hydrated is also a very important tool to stay healthy. Spending more time with nature and getting involved in sport activities is a good way of preventing the stress which can eventually cause the migraine to occur. Try to be as stress free as possible; even though university students like me have a lot of workload and assignments that makes it hard to get time for themselves, but taking some recovery time is going to help with stress and could help reduce migraine.

You can find more information and advice on looking after your wellbeing here 

I am a first-year student who has been diagnosed with migraine and made it through recovering from it. This story is worth sharing because there are people who are like me who are going through a lot of challenges because of this condition. I would like to move forward to make awareness and help them in any way possible.

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