More on migraines

# Last night saw me retiring early with another, although I'm sure I never completely got over the one from last week.

I've never really been one to experience a "prodrome" in connection with my migraines - a period up to a couple of days before an attack where other symptoms may manifest as a warning. At least not that I can recall.

I definitely have an "aura" in the immediate run up to an episode which is usually like having a shadow over my right eye. It feels like my forehead is heavy, swollen or dropping on that side of my face and, combined with the shadow, like it is partially obscuring my vision.

This continues, and intensifies, into the attack proper becoming a state of tunnel vision if the migraine is bad enough.

As I remarked recently, my aura has also comprised of dizziness and the colour draining from my hands. These are apparently common aura symptoms but, perhaps, I only experience them under certain conditions.

Acute photosensitivity aside, the actual headache portion of a migraine isn't the worst part for me. Yes, the pain is awful - accompanied by dizziness, confusion and an inability to concentrate on the simplest of things - but I'll normally manage it by retiring to a dark room and sleeping through the worst of it.

No, the worst part for me is the "postdrome" - what's commonly referred to as the hangover. For me this consists of an ongoing version of my aura (the shadow) and a general fuzziness, a sense of not being entirely there. It's almost a type of disassociation, as though I'm trapped within the shell of my body and things aren't really happening to me. It's the opposite of an out of body experience.

A number of years ago I experienced a prolonged attack of around three months; something was obviously going on with the chemicals in my brain. As is reasonably common with "migraineurs" I was prescribed antidepressants, not to blame the migraines on depression, stress or anxiety, but because of the way certain medications.

Unfortunately, I was first given Propranolol - a beta blocker (for high blood pressure and other cardiovascular issues) which is also used to treat certain types of anxiety, PTSD and migraines. This really didn't agree with me. My sleep patterns became disrupted, the confusion worsened and I experienced what I can only describe as a "mental numbness" leaving me withdrawn and unable to properly interact with the world around me.

I stopped taking them and, in doing so, actually triggered a bout of depression until I completely broke down and just didn't know why.

That mental numbness is the only thing I've ever experienced that is like the feeling I get during the postdrome. Oh, but it was so much worse. At times I swear that it caused some kind of permanent change to my psyche.

Some still don't understand migraines, still think they're just bad headaches and that you're "putting it on." And that's why I'm always very vocal about them and the effects they have.

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