Migraines and Creativity

Since I can remember, I have suffered migraines. There are different types of migraines and the effects on people vary but if you have suffered one or a thousand, you will not forget the pain. Today, I have a migraine. I tried to think of something else to blog about but all I can think of is the pain. Please bear with me while I sort through my thoughts.

Sometimes I can feel a migraine coming but other times it hits me like a ton of bricks. I actually visualize a cartoon in which a piano is dropped from a multi-level building onto some poor schmuck’s head. Of course, I am the poor schmuck.  Without fail, at least twice a month, sometimes as many as ten, I am knocked flat.

Functioning with a migraine has been a chore. Especially when the children were younger. How can you tell a two year old to please be quiet because each time they open their mouth it feels like a million jackhammers are having a party in your skull? You can’t and it is not the child’s fault. They have done nothing wrong.

There are many symptoms to migraines but not everyone has them all. For some reason, I have had all of them at least a few times in my life.

1. Aura – a sensation, as of lights or a current of warm or cold air, preceding an attack of migraine or epilepsy. This can also happen during a migraine.

2. Pain – the pain from a migraine is described usually by pain focused in one section of the head. Often this is misdiagnosed as a sinus headache or a tension headache. It is also possible to suffer a migraine simultaneously with one of those listed prior. I like to call that the double-whammy.

3. Nausea – Nausea and vomiting can be a sign that a migraine is nearly over or just beginning. It can also happen many times in between but that is just my experience.

4. Low tolerance – some suffers report a low tolerance to light, smell and sound.

5. Circulatory problems – Doctors say a migraine is related to changes in circulation. This can cause side effect such as blotchy skin, change of heart rate, feeling feverish even though you do not have a fever, watery eyes and runny nose. The last two are attributed to activation of a nerve cluster in your sinuses.

6. Gastrointestinal – migraines can cause diarrhea, constipation, or cramps. Your stomach may even become paralyzed (gastroparesis), making oral painkillers ineffective.

7. Behavioral – Because of the pain, you may feel irritable. There is also a chance you lose the ability to function properly, confusion, and passiveness. On the flip-side, you may also experience a burst of energy, creativity or euphoria.

I recall being no more than four years old, laying on the floor of the bathroom, waiting for the nausea to pass. I wanted to cry but as any migraine sufferer knows, crying only makes it worse.  I try to not take anything because the side effects to the medicine are sometimes worse. I limit myself to Excedrin and only when I can bear no more pain.

But, as I listed above, there is a flip-side to it.  As the pain begins to ebb and the nausea rolls away, my mind goes crazy. Some of my very best writing comes after a migraine. There is a history of a link between migraine suffers and creativity. Does that mean you must suffer migraines to be creative? No but I do believe it has given me something I might not have had otherwise.

Plus, I am still during and after a migraine which is something very hard for me to be otherwise. In that stillness, I can hear God.

Psalms 46:10

Be still and know that I am God;

I will be exalted among the nations;

I will be exalted in the earth.

I love this passage. Most people think to be still means to not move. That may be so but the true meaning in this passage is to cause yourself to let go or to cause yourself to become weak. In effect, you allow yourself to be at the mercy of God.

Guess what? My head feels better. Thanks for listening to me talk my way through it today.

Peace, love and God’s will.

About Diane Graham

Diane Graham lives in the mountains of eastern Oklahoma with her husband, children and many dogs. She is an avid reader and lover of all art forms that encapsulate imagination and goodness. Her debut novel I Am Ocilla was released in March 2012.

21 comments on “Migraines and Creativity

  1. Thanks for this article. I often wonder if many of my “sinus headaches” are migraines …and with the descriptions you gave, I think they may be. 🙂

  2. You and john must be on the same schedule. He’s got one today–had for the past three days, in fact.
    I didn’t know about the link to creativity, though. That’s cool.

    Feel better!

    • I hope John feels better soon. It really drains you. I feel much better this evening. There is dull ache but I can handle that. 😀

  3. I’ve had some of those symptoms when having headaches too, but one thing I really hate that you didn’t list is the “Splitting headache” where it literally feels like my head is going to explode from within and my brain matter will wind up all over the room. And all without me sticking a gun in my mouth too! 😉 When these occur (which is thankfully much more rare than the other ones), it doesn’t help that I actually DO have sinus trouble, and when I sneeze or have to blow my nose, or even if my throat just needs to be cleared, the effect is intensified to such a degree that I could swear that my skull has cracked. I truly cannot stand those. And as I said, I am thankful that they are so rare.

  4. I remember that anvil that you used in another illustration. That might suffice too! I had my first migraine not too long ago. Not a bad record at my age. It was unlike anything I had before (out of the blue, that is) I have head injuires before. But I just awoke with severe blinding pain . The weird thing was it did not change the intensity to either lay down or sit up. Can’t remember if I was more creative in my writing or not but I know that I was more out of the box with things I researched and might use later. Maybe it is a gift from God to ease his children.

    When I received your email and you wrote “enjoy” at the end of your message, I thought it was going to be a fun read. But it is never “good times” for a great friend to be suffering and in pain! But now I can laugh at that very word because you are on the other side of it ,eh? May God make you whole and may you never have another migraine! And may the creative writer in you just flourish.

    • Thank you. As I wrote this yesterday, the headache began to fade. Any relief is a good thing when you have one. 😀

      • Just be careful with your anvil, now, okay? Trying to carry it on your head the way you do just isn’t what you need to do. I know you live in the woods, but some things just don’t need to be carried on your head. 😉

      • Please forgive me, David. Being on this mountain has gone to my head. I put the anvil away and promise not to take it out again for a while. 😀

  5. Hehe. You know how much I suffer from them as well and that I can’t hold a regular job b/c of them. I remember my very first one vividly. I was 9 and it was after eating Shake ‘n Bake. I’m one of the rare cases where they seem to get worse as I get older, and I’m more sensitive as I get older to triggers like thunderstorms (I can usually tell when they are 12-24 hours away). I’m like you though and feel more creative during that time. Both during the pain and in the “migraine hangover” that follows. I’ve let my writing slip lately, but I’ve done a lot of other stuff with the crochet and knitting, cooking, etc.

    Love ya!!! XOXO

    • Love you too! I like that term, “migraine hangover”.

      • HAHA. I came up with that idea when I was at the bank. They kept asking if I had been out drinking b/c I looked like crap or if I was home sick with a hangover, and I finally replied “a migraine hangover”. It’s really not much different when you think about it. lol.

      • It does seem to give a good idea for the after effects.My Daddy and I discussed the actual pain of the migraine today. The best way I could explain it to him (he has never experienced a migraine) was to compare it to a really bad toothache.

  6. Hi,Diane !
    Have you ever used Accupuncture or Accupressure?
    Many people get relief from all kinds of deep pain from both of those.
    You might research both of those. May God Heal Your Pain & Relax
    You into a Peaceful Rest. Love in Christ, mc

    • Hi, Moody! Glad you stopped by. 😀

      I haven’t tried acupuncture or acupressure. I don’t see me allowing someone to stick tiny needles into me and I am entirely too modest to let anyone put their hands on me besides my husband. That said, I will stick with things as they are. I can deal with it and I do have the added benefit of creativity. I do try to look on the bright side of things. Maybe sometime in the future I will change my mind. 😀

  7. Mine started in association with the arthritises I have. They used to be very frequent, cluster migraines but as I got a smidgen of control over arthritic flare-ups, the migraines lessened, too. Nowadays, I only get truly flattened a couple or so times a month.
    One manifestation not mentioned is eye-specific. Migraines can also occur in the optic nerve, but they can happen both with and without pain. For me, those kinds produced visual problems such as everything appearing to ripple or wave as though seeing it underwater. When that happened, it was bad news because I worked for several years as an electronics inspector —can’t see components or read microscopic values when they’re rippling all over the board. Not to mention the dizziness that accompanies it.
    And I’m with you, Diane. The medications are way scarier than what they treat. I take an OTC ibuprofen (if I can keep it down), but mostly I just ride the migraine out. Thermal shock helps with some of them — alternating heat packs and ice packs. Acupressure is something you can do yourself.
    I always thought of the pain in terms of an iced tea/ice cream headache (anything too cold that you consume too fast) that keeps going or a charley horse in my brain. Similar to an arthritis flare-up, except the arthritis is more like a full-body migraine.
    LOL But I’ve also experienced the flash flood of creativity following them. And after a migraine, a lot of other pains seem pretty trivial. 🙂

  8. Thank you for sharing your awesomeness. This article has many truths. I appreciate u. Keep shining

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