Loving Where You Are

I’m the type of person who is always planning ahead. I see the whole staircase, not just the next step and sometimes that’s a problem. I’m so busy looking forward to the future that I forget to enjoy the moment I’m in right now.

It’s good to be able to live in the moment and be able to love where you are right now. We all have goals but goals take time and we can’t be so focused on them that we don’t enjoy our current situations.

I’m trying my hardest to love where I am right now. To love all of the uncertainty and questions. To wonder if I’m making the right decisions in the short-term to meet my goals in the long-term.

2020 has been eye-opening in terms of forcing me to slow down and appreciate where I am in life. I’ll always look forward to what’s ahead in life but I also know that I need to stop and enjoy my current situation.

Do you mind yourself living in the moment or looking ahead to the future?

Change Is Uncomfortable

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I’ve never been good with change. I get comfortable and then I want things to stay comfortable forever. I’ve learned that I grow the most in these periods of changes, in the uncomfortable moments when I’m forced to learn.

2020 has probably been uncomfortable for the vast majority of people. We’ve had to change where and how we are working and learning. We have had to adapt to the uncertainties that this pandemic has thrown at us. We have had to work together to stop the spread of a virus that we were learning more about every day.

To say that 2020 has just been “uncomfortable” would be an understatement.

All of these changes this year has given me whiplash. I’m tired, burnt-out, and wanting to quit most days. I’m sure many of you are in the same boat and it’s easy to forget that we are all feeling a level of anxiety that is probably higher than we are used to.

I don’t think that anyone can say for sure when this will be over. I’ve heard so many mixed messages from different sources and I’ve honestly just stopped listening to most of them.

If you are feeling uncomfortable, anxious, or burnt-out know that you aren’t alone. One day we will look back at this and be able to see how much change occurred in 2020.

How are you doing? Honestly.

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Migraine Update // Muscle Relaxers & Anxiety

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Last month I went to my Neurologist appointment not really knowing what to expect. I wanted something to change but I wasn’t sure what to do.

It was extremely weird going into the appointment since I had to fill out extra forms and be temperature checked at the door. I wore my mask the whole time and felt safe but it was a much different environment than I’m used to.

Overall the appointment was really good. I do like my Neurologist and feel like he listens to my concerns and answers my list of questions that I always bring with me. He isn’t pushy and I really appreciate that since I had such a bad experience with my previous Neurologist.

We decided to take a bit of a different route this time around and try a muscle relaxer in addition to my normal preventative medication. The muscle relaxer is supposed to help relieve tension and can be especially helpful for people suffering from tension headaches. I had never considered taking a muscle relaxer for my migraines but my Neurologist was really informative and I decided to try them.

It’s been about a month and I have mixed feelings. I sleep so well when I take the muscle relaxer at night but I almost sleep too well. I feel like I’m in a coma and just pass out and then have a hard time waking up with my alarm. I also feel pretty groggy the next morning which isn’t great for working.

Lack of sleep is a huge trigger for my migraines though so sleeping this well is also great. I get more sleep than I used to when I take them. I haven’t really noticed a decrease in migraines but I think it is a little helpful to take the muscle relaxer.

I’ve also had an increase in anxiety over the last month. I have a small tremor in my hands that I take medicine for. I was so stressed out and anxious last week that my small tremor turned into a full blown episode where I was shaking so bad I couldn’t hold a drink. My mom thinks this was brought on by stress and I took a video to show my Neurologist at my next appointment.

Since my increased tremor last week, which thankfully lessened after a few hours of rest, I have been trying to take it super easy. My body obviously isn’t responding well to stress and I need to keep that in mind and stop pushing myself so hard.

I also had a level 10 migraine last weekend. I haven’t had one that bad in so long and I barely made the car ride home from my sister in law’s house. I laid on the bathroom floor for awhile before Brett helped me to bed. I think the trigger was a small glass of wine that my SIL gave me. I know I shouldn’t drink wine but I thought it wouldn’t hurt me that much.

I have a lot of notes for my next Neurologist appointment but I still feel hopeful. I have the option to do the Amiovig injections so that might just be my next path.

There’s a lot of trial and error when it comes to finding the right treatment plan for migraines. I try to open to trying new things and I just remain hopeful that one day something will work!

As always, if you are suffering from migraines just know that you are not alone. There are millions of people suffering in America alone and I’m just trying to share my story and advocate.

Thanks for reading!

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How I Manage Working with Migraines

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One of the most popular questions that I get about having chronic migraine is how I manage to hold down a full time job. In honor of Migraine and Headache Awareness Month I thought I’d share a few ways I have learned to manage working with migraines.

I have been working consistently since I was 17, so almost 10 years. I worked all the way through college, excluding the few months that I studied abroad in London. After my college graduation I found my current role and have worked here for almost 4 years.

Working isn’t easy and I’ve really struggled to balance everything. 2018 was my worst year by far and I really considered taking FMLA. However, I am very fortunate to work at a company with unlimited sick days. They truly care about me as a person but I never want to take advantage of their generous sick leave policy.

Here are a couple of ways that I manage working with migraines.

  1. Open communication. My co-workers know that I have migraines. They have asked me questions and we have discussed them at length. Having them know makes me feel a million times better because they can tell just by looking at me if I’m having a rough day. It’s easy to talk about and I don’t feel overwhelmed trying to act “normal”.
  2. Working from home. Again, I am extremely lucky to work for a company that values me and my individual needs. I am able to work from home whenever I need to. Sometimes the biggest trigger for me is just waking up. I wake up and feel like I’ve been run over by a bus and there’s no way I can drive to work. I always have the option to work from home and take the day at my own pace.
  3. Taking frequent breaks. I work at a computer all day and even with blue light glasses my eyes get fatigued which causes me to have a headache. I make sure to take frequent breaks to re-fill my water, talk to a co-worker, or walk around the building. Working from home is nice because I can walk outside and sit on my deck or snuggle with my puppy for a few minutes. Taking breaks is super important for everyone!
  4. Planning ahead. I am always ready for a migraine. I have all of the essentials at home, in my purse, in my car, and at my desk. It depends on the level of migraine I’m having but sometimes I am able to work through them if I catch them soon enough. My migraine essentials include electrolyte water, caffeine, magnesium, and an abortive medication if needed.
  5. Sick days. As I mentioned, my company has unlimited sick days and while I never want to take advantage of those day I still appreciate them. My mindset on sick days is that I’m going to have a migraine no matter what. It’s not going to go away and I’m not going to get “better”. If I can work through my migraine I will but sometimes I really do just need to lay in bed all day with my ice cap on. These are the days I will take a sick day and just focus on myself. I appreciate these unlimited sick days more than anything.

I know that I am extremely lucky to have the job that I have. I work hard and put a lot of pressure on myself but I always know that my team has my back with whatever I need. I have heard so many horror stories from the migraine support group that I’m part of where people have lost their jobs or have had to go on disability because of their migraines.

It is hard to balance everything and there’s no right or easy way to balance work with any type of health condition. I have had my fair share of struggles and an embarrassing amount of tears while surrounded by co-workers. At one point I thought I’d have to quit because there was no way I’d be able to face them again but I did.

If you are struggling just know that you are not alone.

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Migraine & Headache Awareness Month

National Headache and Migraine Month

June is National Migraine & Headache Awareness month.

In June, the migraine and headache communities come together to raise awareness and recognition of migraines and headaches as debilitating diseases. June is also a time to encourage people suffering in silence to find a specialist or a doctor to help them. It’s a month to talk about current treatment options and new ones that are being created. It’s a time to celebrate how far the community has come in the past few years.

One of the hardest parts about having chronic migraines is feeling alone and misunderstood. I really struggled trying to fit in while being in constant pain until I found the migraine community. Now I feel like I have people in my life who understand how I’m feeling and who I can turn to with questions.

I wrote about my migraine story in 2018 and a lot has changed since then. The biggest thing that has changed is that I learned to advocate for myself. Instead of staying with a neurologist who pushed the same medication over and over I found a new neurologist who actually listens to me. I have so many more treatment options and I feel like a whole new world has been opened up to me.

I have put so many medications and treatments into my body in hopes of treating my migraines. I have had horrific side effects and have been sick for months because of these medications. I’ve gained weight, lost weight, and felt really crummy. I’ve tried diets, physical therapy, and different doctors. There is no cure but there is always hope. 

I’ll be talking about migraines and headaches a lot this month. I never expected to find a migraine community through blogging but I have. Blogging about my migraine journey has been really beneficial for me and I hope I’ve been able to help others know that they are not alone in this.

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Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

 

 

 

 

5 Ways I’m Staying Sane in Quarantine

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Happy Monday, my friends! This is the day that I dread all weekend long. For some reason I never want to go back to work after the weekend. It’s not terrible now that I’m working from home but it’s still hard.

As an introvert, this stay at home order should be a dream come true. I love working from home and not leaving the house. However, it is hard because I do enjoy grocery shopping and browsing the aisles at Target. I also live close to my parents and am used to seeing them every week. I have a lot of anxiety about not being able to leave the house and it’s caused me to have quite a few panic attacks.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about ways to keep me calm and sane during this period of social distancing. From what I’ve been seeing on social media I’m not the only one who has been feeling this way so I thought it might be beneficial to share the ways I’m keeping myself sane during this time.

  1. Creating a routine. I felt really lost when I first started working from home. I was used to working 7:30 am to 4:15 pm but once I started working from home I would end up working 7:30 am to 5:30 pm with no breaks. I felt like I had to prove that I was working and available at all times which was exhausting. Since then I’ve started working around 7:45 am and logging off right at 5 pm. I also try to take a break for lunch everyday but I know I need to be better at that.
  2. Eating meals together. When Brett and I first moved in together we didn’t have a dining room table so we ate on the couch while watching tv. This became our habit and we rarely even ate dinner together at all. Since I’m home all the time now I make dinner and wait for Brett to get home from work so we can eat together. We eat at our dining room table and talk about our day. It seems simple but it’s something I look forward to all day.
  3. Embracing my skincare routine. Skincare is something that I have been passionate about since I was a teenager. I’ve always had bad acne so having a skincare routine has been super important for me. Now I have all the time in the world to spend on my skincare routine and it feels amazing. I’m testing out new products and loving my tried and true Murad products.
  4. Having coffee dates with co-workers. As you know, I’m an introvert so it’s kind of surprising to me how much I miss my co-workers. We are used to working remotely so we have great technology for virtual meetings. We have scheduled times to just sit and drink our morning coffees together which has been really nice. I don’t drink coffee but I love to sit and chat for a few minutes. I would recommend this for co-workers or friends and family as a nice way to catch up with each other while remaining apart.
  5. Checking in with friends. This has been big for me because I’m pretty bad at texting and calling. I’m typically just texting my mom, sister, and Brett but I’ve tried to make myself reach out to friends and family. My work made this a goal for us to check in with a few people every week who we don’t normally talk to and I’ve tried to continue this in my personal life.

There’s no easy way to get through this time but we will make it. I hope to look back at this period of time and cherish the memories Brett and I made together. Before this quarantine we didn’t see each other a lot. Our work schedules are different and he has a very active social life with his friends. I’ve loved spending time with him and I hope we can continue when this is over.

What are you doing to stay sane?

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The Body Image Struggle

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When I was in high school I dated this guy who was really tall and skinny. One day someone asked me “does it bother you that you weigh more than your boyfriend?”. The thought had never even crossed my mind before that moment and looking back there’s no way that I weighed more than him. However, that one question haunted me and I made it my mission to be smaller than this boyfriend.

I don’t want to get into all of the details about this point in my life but it’s been 11 years and I still think about this question all the time. The question sent me into a spiral of body image issues that I still haven’t been able to fully recover from. 11 years ago I lost 20 pounds very quickly and still hated the way I looked. I basically starved myself and still couldn’t look in the mirror.

I think that body image is an issue that most people struggle with. I gained a lot of weight a couple of years ago but have worked really hard to remind myself that my weight is not a measure of my worth. Most days I do pretty good but some days I’m taken back to when I was 15 and someone compared me to my boyfriend.

On Saturday I went shopping for my Matron of Honor dress for my sister’s wedding. I’ve lost about 12 pounds in the past 6 weeks by eating healthy and moving my body. I’ve tried to keep this health journey really positive but the sight of me in a bridesmaid dress sent me back to a really dark place and I’ve had a hard time pulling myself out of it.

I’ve made so much progress in my body image journey but this proves that I still have work to do. I need to make decisions based on what’s best for my body and not the number on the scale or the image that I see in the mirror.

11 years ago I was asked a question that dramatically changed my outlook on life. Let this be a reminder that the words you say matter.

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Keto for Migraine: 1 Month Update

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I have heard SO many negative comments about the Ketogenic diet and I completely understand. For your normal everyday person a low-carb lifestyle might not doctor recommended. The Keto diet was created for people with Epilepsy and works well for other Neurological conditions. I have chronic migraines and there is no “cure”. I was told that Keto may lessen my symptoms and it sounded better than trying another medication.

One month ago I started following the Ketogenic diet. This is my third attempt and I was really successful on my first two so I went in very hopeful. My other two attempts were more for weight loss so I didn’t track my migraines as much as I should have. This time I’m trying to only focus on my headaches and migraines.

How were my migraines this past month?

I actually had a really great month overall! I caught a nasty cold but I didn’t let that stop me from following the meal plan that I had created. There was no guarantee that Keto would help me but I’m happy to report that I am feeling better! I’ve known for the past couple of years that sugar is a trigger for me so it makes sense that not eating sugar would have a big impact on my overall health. I basically cut my migraine days in half so far!

One of the hardest parts of chronic migraine for me is rebound headaches which are also called medication overuse headaches. I couldn’t beat my headache cycle so I started taking ibuprofen or another type of over the counter pain medication every day to get me through. This constant use of medicine started causing rebound headaches and I ended up in a never-ending headache. By eliminating my triggers I am hoping to be able to end this vicious headache cycle.

Have I lost any weight?

Yes, I’ve lost a little over 10 pounds in a month. In reality I’d like to lose 30 more to be at my “normal” healthy weight. I wrote my weight gain story here if you’d like to understand more about why I say my “normal” weight. Most of the weight loss at the beginning of Keto is just water weight and I’m really not concerned about losing weight at this point. I am tracking it in my migraine journal but it’s not my main goal right now.

Has Keto been hard? 

Not really! I have found myself reading my cookbooks and looking forward to grocery shopping and meal prep. I’m learning new recipes and I feel more confident than ever in the kitchen. My overall mood has improved so much and I think a lot of it has to do with Keto.

My sugar cravings went away after about two weeks. I don’t feel deprived of anything though! I eat a square of my favorite dark chocolate after dinner and that keeps the sugar cravings away. I’ve also found substitutes for my favorite snacks like salt and vinegar almonds instead of chips.

Let me know if you have any questions about Keto! I am not a doctor so please ask yours before you start any new “diet” program. I hate calling this a diet and I only feel the need to share how I am doing for others with migraines who may find this helpful.

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Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

 

What I Do When I’m Feeling Overwhelmed

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One of my most annoying traits is that I am very easily overwhelmed. I’ve known this about myself from an early age and have always blamed it on the fact that I’m an introvert. Being around people drains me and I get so overwhelmed that I have a hard time functioning.

As I’ve grown older I’ve come to realize that my environment is what overwhelms me the most. I avoid being around large groups of people because having many people talking at once makes me completely lose focus. Sometimes I can’t even hold a conversation with the person sitting next to me because all I can hear are the other voices around me.

When Brett and I bought our house my mental health started to deteriorate. I was so overwhelmed with cooking, cleaning, laundry, unpacking, organizing, etc. Brett and I had an apartment before so it wasn’t the stress of moving in with him that created this monster inside of me. We had way more space in our house than our apartment and I was feeling overwhelmed taking care of all of it.

My environment is important to my mental health. When my house is clean, I am calm. When my house is a little messy, I feel a bit chaotic. When my house looks like a tornado blew through it, I am a hot mess. 

Let’s be super honest here, I’m not the neatest person in the world so I constantly feel chaotic. I’ve learned to deal with these overwhelming feelings in a couple of ways.

  1. I take a quick break. Sometimes I just need a moment to breathe away from the chaos that I’ve created around me. I’ll grab Oscar and head out for a quick walk around the block or just hang out with him in the backyard for a bit. Anything to get me out of my head.
  2. I read a book. Reading is so therapeutic to me. I love getting lost in someone else’s story and it makes me forget about my life for a few minutes.
  3. Create a to-do list. When I’m feeling super overwhelmed I grab my notepad and jot down all the things I think I need to do. This is fun to look at hours later when I’m not so stressed because I can tell how chaotic my brain was when I wrote it. Creating a list gets my stress out of my body and onto the paper.
  4. Have Brett talk me down. Brett and I have been together for almost 9 years so he almost understands me better than I understand myself sometimes. He knows how to deal with me when I’m at my most overwhelmed and always talks me back into a good place.

Being overwhelmed is a normal feeling and there’s nothing wrong with feeling it at times. I always tell myself that I’m stronger than any feeling I’m having and I’ll get through it like I always have before.

Life is for living. By being so overwhelmed with housework I was truly forgetting to live. I’m trying to be better about how I spend my time. One of my Q1 goals is to spend more time tidying and less time cleaning. I hope this helps me calm down and enjoy everyday.

I hope these tips help you if you are also feeling overwhelmed! Let me know if you have any other tips.

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Photo by Jonathan Francisca on Unsplash

 

Migraine Update: Keto Diet & Positive Thinking

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My migraines and headaches have progressively gotten worse over the past couple of years but I have gotten stronger. It’s easy to let my fear of a migraine or my day-to-day pain bring me down but I’ve decided that I am stronger than my migraines and I deserve to live a life worth living.

There is no cure for migraines. There’s no easy way out. I haven’t been able to find a medication that will magically take all of my pain away and leave me symptom free. Instead I have decide that I am mentally strong enough to withstand the pain. There are still many days where I don’t want to get out of bed and sleeping is the only thing that helps. And that’s okay.

I had an appointment with my neurologist last week and I was a bit disappointed at first. It’s easy to feel like all of my doctors have given up on me when they can’t find a way to help my migraines. In this case, I think my neurologist was trying to push me to make a decision that I wasn’t ready to make at the time. He wanted me to make the decision on how much I’m willing to put my body through in order to be pain free. He wasn’t doing this to be hurtful but wanted to have an honest conversation with me. He’s a good guy and a great doctor.

I needed to take a step back. We talked about Amiovig at my last appointment and I had been thinking about it since. I hadn’t decided if I was ready to make that leap. So instead I decided to take some time to take care of myself for once. I’ve had a little success with my current medication so I’ll keep taking it. I’ve had a lot of success with eating a low-carb, low-sugar diet so I’ll try that again.

This is my third time doing the Ketogenic diet. I know that tons of people say that it’s not healthy but both of my neurologists have suggested it to me. According to them, Keto was originally created to help people with Epilepsy and can help those with other neurological problems as well.

Losing weight is not my main concern. I just want a healthy and happy brain. Sugar has always been a huge trigger for my migraines so now I’m putting my health first and saying no to sugar.

I don’t know how sustainable Keto will be for me. I already have so much more energy, less brain fog, and I’m sleeping better. I did not experience the “Keto flu” and I’m making sure that I still eat enough calories and drink enough water. I’m cooking new recipes and meal prepping and planning. I feel really good.

I want to push myself to do Keto for at least three full months and am keeping notes about how my body feels. I’m hoping that eating a healthier diet and avoiding my known food triggers will help me. I want to do what’s best for my body and this feels right for now.

I’m still taking things one day at a time but every morning when I wake up I remind myself that I am worthy of having a good day. I won’t let migraines bring me down forever even when I do have my really bad days.

Have you tried the Keto diet? Let me know if you have any tips!

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