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Headache Disorders & Migraine Blog Carnival: Last Call for Submissions

Submissions for the September Headache Disorders and Migraine Blog Carnival are due tomorrow, Sept. 5, by 11:59 p.m. Invisible Illness is the theme of this month’s carnival. Let us know your thoughts on the pros and cons of having an invisible illness or respond to the 30 Things meme sponsored by the 2014 Invisible Illness Awareness Week, which will be Sept 8-14.

To join us, email the link to your post to kerrie[at]thedailyheadache[dot]com and include the following information with your submission:

(1) Your name as you would like it to appear in the carnival.
(2) The title of the blog post you’re submitting.
(3) The url of the blog post you’re submitting.
(4) The title of your blog.
(5) The url of your blog.

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Understanding of Invisible Illness & Visible Disabilities

When you’re struggling with the frustrations of an invisible illness, it’s tempting to think, “If only people could see how sick I was, they’d understand.” While people may have a different understanding of visible disabilities or illnesses than they do for invisible ones, the understanding isn’t better or more. The judgement and criticism still come, just in different ways.

Despicable Memes is an excellent article that addresses some of the harmful beliefs about physical disabilities, particular people in wheelchairs. This particular article struck me because I saw so many parallels with the aspects of invisible illnesses that people struggle with. In particular,

  • If your symptoms or behaviors don’t fit with what other people expect of you, you’ll be judged.
  • When you speak up about how hurtful and damaging the comments are, you’ll be told you’re too sensitive.
  • People are only comfortable talking about illness or disability if the focus is on working hard, getting better, being strong, and overcoming strife.

Obviously, having a visible disability isn’t a breeze. I know that you know that. Still, I’ve seen plenty of people online say that they wish people could see their invisible disability so they’d understand it. I do not. Not only because I don’t want stares and pity or because I like being able to hide my illness when I want to, but because the grass is just as dry and brittle on the other side.

This month’s Headache Disorders & Migraine Blog Carnival, which I’m hosting here on September 8, will be devoted to invisible illness. Bloggers, if you’d like to share your thoughts on invisible illness, please read the call for submissions and send me your posts by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, September 5.

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Hormonal Birth Control for Menstrual Migraine & Insurance Denials

Despite the Affordable Care Act’s required coverage of birth control, some insurers are denying coverage of the birth control patch or NuvaRing, NPR reports. There are a few exceptions to the rule, but nearly all health plans are required to cover all FDA-approved birth control. If you have been denied coverage, NPR recommends appealing the denial and contacting your state insurance board.

How is this relevant to headache/migraine/chronic illness? Hormonal birth control is one method of managing menstrually associated migraine attacks, which tend to be more severe than the migraines a woman has other times of the month. The patch and the ring provide a steadier dose of hormones than a pill does, which makes them more effective for this purpose.

I’ve been using NuvaRing continuously (with one-week breaks every three or four months) since January 2010 and it has been tremendously helpful. Now, the most severe migraines I get happen the few times a year I have to stop the ring for a withdrawal bleed. (You can learn more about skipping periods on The Well-Timed Period.)

This method is generally not recommended for women who have migraine with aura, who are at greater risk of stroke if they use hormonal birth control. However, I recommend talking it over with your headache specialist to decide if it is a good option for you, whether you have migraine with or without aura. Given the frequency and severity of my migraines, my headache specialist said he’d advise me to continue using the NuvaRing even if I did have migraine with aura.

(If you don’t want to/can’t use hormonal birth control for some reason, triptans can be used to prevent menstrual migraine attacks.)

I always love to read your comments, but I’m on vacation and won’t be able to reply until the week of Sept. 8. Please don’t think I’m ignoring you!

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Call for Submissions: September Headache Disorders & Migraine Blog Carnival

In honor of Invisible Illness Awareness Week, Invisible Illness will be the theme of September’s Headache Disorders & Migraine Blog Carnival, which I’m hosting here on September 8. Let us know your thoughts on having an invisible illness or respond to the 30 Things meme sponsored by Invisible Illness Awareness Week.

To join us, email the link to your post to kerrie[at]thedailyheadache[dot]com by 11:59 p.m. Pacific time on Friday, Sept. 5. Please include the following information with your submission:

(1) Your name as you would like it to appear in the carnival.
(2) The title of the blog post you’re submitting.
(3) The url of the blog post you’re submitting.
(4) The title of your blog.
(5) The url of your blog.

I’m looking forward to reading and sharing the submissions!

 

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Plunging Into Memories of the Worst Year of My Life

“My migraines are a bit more severe than yours.”

I got this as part of a distressing email exchange with someone about what it’s like to have non-stop migraine attacks for years (it’s not a direct quote, but the gist is the same). The implication was that I can have a positive attitude because my attacks are less severe than what they experience. Before you get your hackles up in my defense, know that this person apologized after I responded to this ridiculousness, pointing out that they have no idea what I’ve been through and that my migraines have been less severe this year because I have worked my ass off to make them so.

But the statement wasn’t without harm. It plunged me into memories of the worst year of my life — a year that was already on my mind following Robin Williams’ suicide. I barely wrote during that time and have only alluded to how terrible it was. It is hard for me to even find the words to describe what those days were like. And I’m not going to try now. I’m just too raw.

Several months ago, my therapist wanted to do some trauma work around my memories from that year. I kept trying, but couldn’t connect. I could describe it objectively, but there was no emotion. I found that emotion these past couple weeks and it has been overwhelming. I saw my therapist today and we finally were able to do some trauma work. We didn’t go very deep and it was still a lot, though I’m doing better this evening.

So that’s why I’ve been quiet this week. I’ll be taking the next two weeks off to spend some time with my sweetie. I have a couple posts scheduled — and I’ll be hosting the Headache Disorders & Migraine Blog Carnival on Sept. 8 — but won’t be on social media or responding to comments or email until the week of Sept. 8. I was already in need of a break. With the memories the last two weeks have churned up, I really need some time to recharge. Take care of yourselves.