2021 Migraine and Headache Awareness Month

June is National Migraine & Headache Awareness month. I’ve been pretty quiet this year in regards to advocating and sharing my experience but I didn’t want the month to pass without me mentioning anything. You can read my story about my migraine and headache experience here for background.

One of the biggest challenges I’ve had with having chronic migraine is suffering in silence. I look pretty normal from the outside so having an invisible illness is hard to explain and advocate for. It’s been even harder now that I’ve entered corporate America and I feel like it’s a major roadblock for my career. My team is super understanding but I hate talking about it and feel bad that I have different needs than the rest of the team.

I try to advocate and raise awareness for those suffering in silence or with invisible illnesses as often as possible but June is always a good reminder to say something. The migraine community is greater than I imagined it would be. I never knew that there were so many resources available and I was even able to find a new Neurologist because of these resources. If you are suffering in silence, please know that you are not alone and there may be resources available to help you too!

I’ve tried many different medications and treatments but over the past 15 months I’ve focused on my health and prioritized putting myself first. This was only possible because I was working from home. I never imagined that what would help me the most was simply being at home in a controlled environment.

I’ve learned a lot about migraine and headaches over the past few years and finally feel like I’m in a better place. With the U.S. opening back up after the pandemic I just hope that I’m able to stay in a good place. I don’t know how I’ll feel going back into the office but I hope it doesn’t ruin 15 months of actual progress.

Photo by Carolina Heza on Unsplash

Making Work-Life Balance Happen

I’ve mentioned a few times before that I’m a workaholic but basically all I did in 2020 was work and now I’m burnt out and don’t quite know how to fix it.

My company wants us to have work-life balance but we’ve grown so much in the past few years that it just doesn’t feel possible anymore. In order to keep up with the demand we are all working long hours and I don’t see an end in sight. I love the company I work for and the team I’m on but I’m so tired every day and I really just want to be able to take a lunch break or a vacation day without feeling guilty.

In general I’ve been questioning work-life balance. I haven’t been sleeping well because I have anxiety dreams about work and I can’t shut them off. I’m worried about my to-do list, I’m worried I’m missing an e-mail because there are too many, I’m worried about training others while trying to learn new things myself. I’m worried that I will burn out for real before I even turn 30.

2021 has to be the year that I figure this out. I need to take all my vacation days without feeling guilty. I need to have a normal amount of responsibilities. I need to put my mental health first. And most of all, I need to work normal hours because working this much is not healthy.

In 2019 I wrote a post about how my dream job was no longer a specific job. Instead it was a team, my team. I still love my team SO much but I don’t know if it’s enough anymore. 2019 was the best year of work for me. I was in a great place but 2020 changed everything and I don’t know how to go back.

Have you been able to make work-life balance? How do you put your needs first?

Photo by Kevin Bhagat on Unsplash

2020: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

This will be my third year writing this type of post but this time feels so much different. 2020 can be accurately descripted as a dumpster fire and it’s much easier to find the ugly moments instead of the good moments. I’m going to attempt to document a variety of 2020 memories in this post.

As always, this isn’t a post to brag about my life or to show off. This is simply something that I enjoy writing to look back on in future years. I love looking back on 2018 and 2019.

In 2020 I…..

  • Traveled to New Hampshire to be my sister’s Matron of Honor for her wedding
  • Switched roles at work in February and cried a lot over it
  • Packed up all my stuff and started working from home in March
  • Started a job search and am still undecided about what I want to do
  • Saved money to start a new house project in 2021
  • Weaned off of my migraine medication to *hopefully* prepare to have a baby in the future
  • Broke my rebound headache cycle which I never could have done if I hadn’t been working from home. This is by far my most proud accomplishment of 2020 because I was so sick and I didn’t give up.
  • Flew to New Hampshire in July to drive back to Michigan with my sister for a few weeks. I enjoyed so much quality sister time.
  • Celebrated 3 years of marriage and 9 total years with Brett in August.
  • Found out that my sister was pregnant in September! Looking forward to adding another niece or nephew to the cousin crew in May 2021.
  • Spent more quality time with Brett than I have in years. Our monthly date nights are a 2020 highlight.
  • Started training two new hires in August on the role that I really don’t enjoy doing. Training has been slow moving since we are doing it virtually and it has been very hard on me. I’ve been working 50+ hours per week trying to keep up.
  • Took a break from blogging because I was overwhelmed with life.
  • Completed year 1 of a 3 year certification course for work.
  • Spent a lot of social distanced time with at my Grandparent’s lake house
  • Turned 27 in quarantine
  • Celebrated 7 years of blogging in November
  • Finally got promoted in December
  • Worked from home for 9 months and can’t imagine going back to the office full time ever again.

2020 was challenging in many different ways. My biggest challenge this year in my personal life was going from loving my job to hating it. Because work has been so hard I’ve struggled with everything else since I am so unmotivated. I don’t have an answer or solution for this yet so I will just keep chugging along.

I’m looking forward to the new year. I’m looking forward to a fresh start and hopefully leaving all of these negative feelings behind me.

What will you remember about 2020?

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Surviving the Busy Season

I haven’t even thought about blogging in a couple of weeks. Year-end is pretty rough for me at work and I’ve been training two new hires on a job that I do not enjoy at all. It’s hard to find the motivation to do the job I’m being paid to do let alone this side blogging gig that I do just for fun.

I’m sure that every job has a “busy season” where the employees have to work long hours and the work-life balance isn’t so great. The 2020 “busy season” has basically been all year it seems. Work has been nonstop and I haven’t caught up for a second.

I don’t want to complain because I am so thankful for my job but it’s tough. I think I’m not at that stage of adulthood where the holiday season is more stressful than magical because I’m so busy that I can’t really stop to enjoy it anymore.

I guess I just wanted to pop in and say hi. I’m still alive just busy and tired. Hopefully 2021 will be better.

Photo by Garrhet Sampson on Unsplash

2020: Third Quarter Goals Recap

I honestly don’t even know what to say about these goals. I still love writing them because it’s great motivation to not sit on the coach and watch Law & Order SVU every night (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Setting goals just doesn’t feel the same in 2020 for some reason.

Here’s a quick recap of my third quarter goals:

  1. Monthly date night. Yes! Brett and I are making alone time a priority even as things have started to open back up and he’s switched schedules at work (again). I hope monthly date night is something we continue forever.
  2. Spend at least 30 minutes outside per day. I haven’t been great at this. I still enjoy walking the dog and sitting on our back deck but I haven’t made it as much of a priority the past month or so.
  3. Start meal planning again. I have gotten much better at meal planning! I’m mostly using Pinterest to find new recipes. The biggest reason why I’m able to meal plan easily now is because I’m home most days and I love easy crockpot recipes.
  4. Find a new outlet for my anxiety. This didn’t really happen. I’m feeling good most days and am trying to cope the best I can. I’ll continue working on trying to find an outlet to help.
  5. Write down some professional goals. I still have no idea what I’m doing or what I want to do when it comes to my career. I’m trying not to stress about it and am just going with the flow. Our team is working through some major transitions right now and I’m just trying to be as supportive to my teammates as possible.

I’ve already written my final 2020 goals and am ready to take action. This year hasn’t gone the way I originally thought it would but I’m determined to not waste a minute.

Do you have any goals for the rest of 2020?

Photo by Justin Luebke on Unsplash

Re-Evaluating My Priorities

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Confession: I’m a workaholic. If I’m not working I’m thinking about work and if I’m thinking about work I’m feeling anxious.

My company is really big on work-life balance but it’s SO hard. They want us to feel like we can take vacation time, have flexible schedules, and come and go as needed and I really appreciate that.

At the same time, my department is always changing and growing which makes it hard to have coverage when I need it. My work has to get done on time so it can’t just wait until I get back.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m only 26 but have been working a paid job consistently for almost 10 years. That 10 years has been split between 2 companies, 6 years at one and nearly 4 years at the other. I am a hard worker and I like to stay at a job for as long as I can given that there are opportunities to advance.

My dedication to work has caused a big issue in my life though. Work quickly became my #1 priority and I’m having a hard time shaking that mentality.

My current dilemma is that I am senior in my department and potentially up for a promotion or two. As amazing as that is, I honestly don’t know what I want to do with my life and the thought of a promotion makes me question everything. Can I handle this new set of responsibilities?

All I know right now is that it’s time for me to re-evaluate my priorities. I don’t want to look back in 10 more years and only be able to say that I worked really hard. I want to remember times with Brett and our future family. I’d really like to find a balance before having kids.

How do you manage work-life balance?

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Photo by Adeolu Eletu on Unsplash

July Blog Schedule

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July is a super busy month for me and I think blogging will have to take more of a backseat in my life for awhile. I’ll still be reading but I don’t know how much time I’ll have to create content.

Brett and I flew into Maine on Monday to see my sister in New Hampshire. On Tuesday we drove from New Hampshire to Michigan. On Wednesday we got her settled in Michigan and today I returned to work after 6 days off. I am exhausted.

Work has been rough this year. When I originally started writing this post I wrote that things were finally starting to look up. I spoke too soon. I don’t want to go into details because I know I am extremely lucky to have a job right now. I’m feeling really burnt out and I can’t imagine doing this for the rest of my life but I have no idea what else I’d want to do. I’m just feeling very unsure about work at the moment.

Speaking of work, I am taking a class for work the last week of July. I started a 3 year designation course which is usually held at Notre Dame. This year it will be online and I have been studying hard but still feel really unprepared. I will be spending most of the rest of this month studying and preparing for the class and the exam.

My anxiety is really high right now as I figure out how to deal with all of the things that are going on in my life. I’m nervous for all of the changes that are taking place at work and I’m extremely anxious about my class/exam.

Hopefully I will be back in action in August but July will most likely be pretty quiet.

Do you have any plans in July?

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Does Hard Work Really Payoff?

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I have almost a decade of work experience under my belt which feels impressive since I’m only 26. I feel like I’ve been working hard for so long, always trying to be the best at what I do and trying to lead others to success too.

I started working my junior year of high school and it seemed like most of my classmates didn’t have jobs yet. I got my job because I had been invited to go to Europe that summer with other high school musicians and I needed to be able to help pay for the trip. It was hard working nights and weekends when my friends were hanging out but it was all worth it because I was saving for something I really wanted.

I ended up loving that job and working there for nearly 6 years. I was hired as a high school junior and left as a college graduate ready to move onto my first post-grad job. My first job taught me time management and leadership skills that are incredibly valuable. I also already had 6 years of work experience which set me apart from my peers.

My current job has been a roller-coaster since day one (in the best way possible). At first, I was so miserable and I was just trying to make it a year. I loved my co-workers but I hated the job. Then my boss moved me to a different role and I loved it! I was making a difference and was passionate about it. My team is amazing and even if the work is tedious I still get so much joy out of being part of this team.

All of that to say that I feel like I have been working so hard and sometimes I wonder why. When I first got a job I was working to save for a big trip. Now I feel like I go the extra mile everyday and I am working hard to keep moving up just for personal satisfaction. Yes, I have to have a job to pay my bills but work doesn’t have to be my whole life.

Some part of me always has to be the best at whatever I’m doing. I had to take flute lessons so I could have first part. I had to be a manager at my last job because I wanted to master all of the jobs. In my current role I keep cross-training so I can be as helpful as possible and keep moving up. My current role never seems to be good enough because I know that I can always improve.

Does hard work really payoff? I’d say it does.

These days I’m grateful that I’m able to have an emergency fund for the things in life that I just can’t plan for. I’m grateful that I can afford the beautiful house that we fell in love with. I’m grateful that I can save for trips I want to take in the future. Most of all, I have a sense of pride in my work and I’m grateful for that.

In a world that makes it seem like we need to work 24/7 to be successful, I’m here to remind you that success comes in all shapes and sizes. Don’t compare where you are at to where somewhere else is.

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Photo by Kevin Bhagat on Unsplash

 

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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Photo by Corinne Kutz on Unsplash

 

4 Things I Do For A Productive Work Week

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Last year I wrote about the “Sunday Scaries” and about being so anxious on Sunday that I wasn’t able to enjoy my day off of work. I feel so much pressure to get things done that I can’t just relax and take care of myself like I should. Since then I have been working on learning how to breathe and enjoy life.

Even though I am enjoying my Sundays now more than I used to I still have a small list of things that I do during the weekend to help me have a productive work week ahead. I hope that these help you if you are also feeling anxious about getting things done!

  1. Create a meal plan and go grocery shopping. I hate making unnecessary stops on my way home from work. On Monday the grocery store is always super busy and I don’t want to wait in lines or be stuck in cart traffic jams. I like to browse the store ad online, create a meal plan, and go grocery shopping early in the morning on Saturday or Sunday to avoid crowds. I feel really good if I can check this off my list right away!
  2. Make my kitchen spotless. I’m one of those people who just can’t function if my kitchen is messy. I hate cluttered counters, dirty dishes in the sink, and a messy floor. If I am able to start my Monday with a clean kitchen I feel much more ready to tackle my week. I’m also more motivated to cook dinner when I arrive home from work if the kitchen is clean!
  3. Laundry done plus clothes folded and put away. I used to have a bad habit of doing my laundry and then leaving it in the basket for a few days before finally folding it and putting it back in the basket. I hated putting my clothes away in my closet or dresser. Now I make it a goal to have all of the laundry done and put away before Monday morning.
  4. Realize that I won’t be able to get everything done. I’m just one person and there’s no way that I can tackle my whole to-do list in one weekend. I try to get the basics done and make small lists to accomplish during the week. I have stopped putting so much pressure on myself to have the perfect house and I feel so much better! It’s okay to leave some items unchecked on your list. You’ll get to them when you can.

2018 was a really dark year of me but it taught me that I needed to learn how to put myself and my mental health first. Last year I struggled with finding a healthy balance of productivity and relaxing. I’ve made a lot of really good progress and I contribute that to learning how to set myself up for success.

How do you prepare for your work week?

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Photo by Arnel Hasanovic on Unsplash