Beth Freeman; Migraine and my #BrainLifeGoals

Beth Freeman
Beth Freeman

My name is Beth, I’m 25 years old. I am many things, a student teacher, a cellist, an optimist, a bit of a hippy, but I’m also a migraineur.

I am not migraine, migraine is not me, it’s just a part of my life.

I have what’s called chronic daily headache syndrome, this basically just means I have head pain every single day. Some days I will have no other symptoms, just pain, some days I’ll have a heap of them, those days I can be totally out of commission.

I am not migraine, migraine is not me, it’s just a part of my life.

My Migraine:

5 year old Beth with her first Cello

But okay, I’m getting ahead of myself, lets start from the beginning. I had a totally normal childhood; I was never really sick or anything.

  • When I was 10 I had a number of occasions where I would get excruciating pains in my belly and I’d feel generally ‘off form’. I would call home sick from school, or not go to school. This was totally unlike me because I hated missing school. It only happened a few times, so we thought nothing of it.
  • When I was 14 the same thing happened again a few times, and again I had to call home from school when they happened because I couldn’t concentrate. Once again, it was quite seldom so we thought nothing of it [We being my family].
  • When I was in 6th year, the dreaded Leaving Cert year [6th year= 18 y/o, Leaving Cert= Big state exam] I began to get headaches, nausea, cramps etc. but with the year that was in it, I put it down to stress and drinking far too much coffee.
  • The summer between secondary school and college was a rough one for me, but again, I just thought I was coming down from being in such a high stress state for so long.
  • Eventually I was in college and the pain amped up and became relentless, this was when I finally started to see a headache specialist. Turns out all of this had been migraine all along.
Beth mid-seizure

Now that I had a name for it, I could learn about what people did to manage theirs and try to do the same for mine.

I’ll admit the first few years were pretty rough, trying to figure out where I stand, what I can and can’t do, but then I realised that I am so immensely lucky, so why dwell on the negatives. I’ll discuss that more later, I have a little more to mention on my migraines themselves.

  • I started having body jerks, then these weird eye flutters, then full blown seizures.

Once again, I had no idea this was migraine. I went to my doctors and they said that they thought it was migraine, but wanted to hospitalise me for tests, just to be safe.

  • I went from having a few twitches a day to having 150 seizures a day (counting the ones in my sleep too).

Yes, this was an incredibly scary time, but I decided that I still wanted to live as much as I could within the constraints that I have.

 

 

Changing my mindset – adapting my #BrainLifeGoals:

Okay, so let’s move on from the actual migraine story to how I’ve learned to cope with and flourish throughout my migraine journey.

  • The first thing that I did was realise that migraine is like riding a wave, when you’re right at the top and think this is too hard to handle, take a moment and remember that this wave will break, you will come down from it eventually, whether it’s fleeting attack or a linger-er, it will break and you will come back to your baseline eventually.
  • I then took some time to remove myself from my own situation, I thought If I can remove my bias from the situation, I can try to see what other people see when they see me. We truly are our own worst critics!
Beth takes a spontaneous dip in the sea during a walk
Beth takes a spontaneous dip in the sea during a walk

People see a strong, jolly, motivated and powerful woman, why couldn’t I see that in myself.

When people would say that they were proud of me or were in awe of my strength, I’d ask them why … It made me feel like I was a little bit conceited, but it really helped me to understand what others were seeing in me.

  • I also took time to look at myself and realise how much I really could do. I can breathe independently, I can [almost always] walk independently, I can [more often than not] speak and get my point across. These are things that we often take for granted, but I realised that it really is a massive privilege. One special thing that I feel like we can all do if we practice is; I can smile and genuinely mean it and that is powerful!
  • I take time to do things that I love and that calm me. I go to my local park and walk around barefoot on the grass, I walk and swim in the sea, I play my cello and piano, I dance alone in my house, I meditate, I sing at the top of my lungs for my dogs … Yes, I’m crazy, but that’s just me!

Doing these things helps me to feel more ‘normal’. Some of them take no energy, but they can make you feel like you’re functioning better.

 

What I have done with migraine:

Beth Francis of @VitaminSeaFilms with Beth Freeman together. Both Beths have chronic migraine!
  • I have completed a level eight degree in Human Development and Irish.
  • I am in my second year of my master’s degree, I do my degree online, because I wouldn’t physically be able to attend a bricks and mortar college with my condition as it is right now.
    My degree is called a PMEP a Professional Masters In Education, Primary School.
  • I have taken a few holidays.
  • I have done school placements.
  • I’ve met an AMAZING community of people who also have migraine and some of them have become close friends of mine.
  • I have swapped old hobbies that I am no longer able to do for new ones eg. Archery for art.
  • I have worked on my health and fitness as a whole.
  • I have worked as a substitute teacher.
  • But most importantly I have never given up on myself. I have realised that Migraine could be something that is with me every day of my life, but so are my legs, my arms and I don’t let them define me, so why should migraine?

That to me defines #BrainLifeGoals, I have kept faith in myself, I have kept living and I have tried to support others through it too. I so, so wish that you all reading this, migraineur or not, find that inner peace and acceptance that we all deserve!

Beth met her friend @DayDreamHannah through a Migraine Association of Ireland ‘Self Management’ course

That to me defines #BrainLifeGoals, I have kept faith in myself, I have kept living and I have tried to support others through it too. I so, so wish that you all reading this, migraineur or not, find that inner peace and acceptance that we all deserve!

 

#PepTalk

Don’t be afraid to live. I tried that, it’s no fun. I lived in fear of my next attack, hardly leaving the house but all it did was sink me deeper into my own world when there’s a beautiful bright world out there that we all could be living in if we just let ourselves!

Yes, a migraine could hit, but if you have a lift, or money for a taxi to leave the situation and a little survival kit [I’ve mine on my highlights on Instagram @TheMerryMigraineur] on hand to calm yourself down and manage the pain you’re able to regain control of that situation.

 

Please, don’t ever give up on yourself!

Feel free to message me on my Instagram @TheMerryMigraineur if you need someone to talk to, or just a pair of ears to listen to you vent, because, I know as well as you do that life can be tough. But me and you, my friend, are tougher, we can get through anything with the right mindset and the right support networks around us.

 


 

Beth has shared this article in support of EFNA’s #BrainLifeGoals campaign. EFNA launched the #BrainLifeGoals campaign earlier this year with the aim of raising awareness of the needs and goals of people with brain diseases. Patient advocates are encouraged to participate in the campaign by sharing their own goals on social media alongside the #BrainLifeGoals hashtag, or by sending their stories to us here.

 

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