Migraine Type I: The Slow Build
Although every person experiences migraine disease differently, there is also great variety about how specific migraines present on an individual level. #confusing. This can be tricky when trying to explain your condition to friends and family because, “I have a migraine”, often means different things, not only to them, but to the migraineur also.
Personally, my pain often falls into a handful of “migraine categories”. There are the ones that wake me up in the middle of the night at a level 9/10, gripping my entire body and forcing me to cling to my icepack and wait desperately for meds to take the edge off. Then there are ones that last for days at a time but at a lower intensity, sometimes breaking for a few hours, but maintaining a constant threatening feeling, signaling inevitable return. Some I wake up with, feeling the strain and pain before I even open my eyes, but often, these are bearable and I can manage through with a slow morning routine and low stimuli.
I deeply believe that explaining how migraine can vary dramatically on an individual level is an important part of helping increase awareness and understanding of this disease. Soooooo, I’m going to start a blog series breaking down my various migraine categories. I’m incredibly interested to see how my fellow migraine warriors relate.
The one I want to share today I call “the slow build”. This migraine subtype plays on your emotions, as well as your physical being all day long. This migraine is often there when you wake up, and you think, “hmm, I feel like a migraine could come on”, but you’re not sure until you get moving just how entrenched it is.
You move through your day and try to conquer one task at a time, maybe even sticking to your originally planned schedule. Every single thing you do feels like it is prodding at your pain, and sucking away your energy. You’re not in enough pain to take medicine or go lie down and stop the day’s activities. But you’re pushing through omnipresent discomfort, and it is taking a toll.
For me, the slow build days are extremely tricky emotionally. Sometimes, a slow build will stay at a moderate pain level all day long. Other times, by evening, it’s escalated to a baddie, necessitating meds, ice and rest. Those days are particularly challenging, as by that point the energy required to deal with the pain feels nonexistent.
My boyfriend is an invaluable support on those days. Sometimes by 7 or 8 pm, I’m reduced to tears because I’m just so tired. Tired of being in pain, tired of trying to not focus on the pain, tired of employing distraction techniques, tired of just trying to get through the day.
These slow build days feel like I’ve gone 24 hours on an empty gas tank, that every hour, the last sputtering of fumes that are keeping me going are becoming more and more faint. By the end of these days, I feel guilt for feeling so hopeless, but also too tired to focus on my emotions.
The slow build is, ironically, also a slow drain. As pain builds, energy for the fight fades. Words that normally reassure me feel far away, and the combination of head pain + exhaustion consumes me. These days are different than the freight train migraines that arrive in the middle of the night raging and severe. They’re different from the ones that present after a long day of activity, where my head throbs from stimuli and interaction. They’re more quiet, a silent suffering, like a leak that nobody but me notices. They are a sneaky type of head pain, never budding to the full strength of a “raging” migraine, but nevertheless, exhausting and debilitating in their own way.
I know that on every one of these days, a tomorrow will come. And I try to focus on that. But those nights where I feel like a deflated balloon, who’s been punched repeatedly by a migremlin are hard, and lonely 👹 I hope that if you experience migraine days of the slow build type you know that you are not alone. The amount of strength and courage required to put one foot in front of the other, take deep breath after deep breath and move through the day beat by beat is something I see, recognize and applaud you for.
In the words of the very wise Winnie the Pooh, “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think, and loved more than you will ever know”. Hang in there! Please comment below with any migraine categories you’d love to see written about ⬇️Also, if you relate to the slow build, I would love to know.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read ♥️