Coping, Triggers

Trip to Ikea Without a Meltdown or Migraine!

Fluorescent lights, new furniture smells, swarms of shoppers wandering without regard to others, groups enraptured by the store’s wonders and standing in the walkway, the inability to get through the store without walking the predefined path. The joys of Ikea. Despite these obstacles, I like the place.

It’s just that I have a meltdown nearly every time I shop at Ikea. The plethora of migraine triggers and my inability to regulate time or make decisions while I’m there add to the aforementioned obstacles.

I strategize before each Ikea excursion. I need:

  • To eat enough ahead of time to sustain me
  • Caffeine, but not too much
  • A large, full water bottle
  • Sunglasses
  • To go when the store opens
  • Hart, to keep me on track (although this often backfires as he is mesmerized by the possibilities)

I usually don’t follow my guidelines. This was no exception. I’d eaten, but was hungry by the time I parked. I ordered three shots in my latte instead of the usual two. My large water bottle was dirty, so I had to settle for the 14 ouncer. The sunglasses spent more time on top of my head than on my face. I arrived an hour after the store opened. Hart was at work.

I kind of stuck with the plan and it seems to have worked. No shaking, fuming or tears. No migraine. I did however, buy more curtains than I have windows to cover. The kicker is that I ran an hour of errands afterward, drove the 30 minutes home and rested for another 30; then I wrote for two hours before picking Hart up.

The day after wasn’t even too bad. My head was bad in the morning, but no other symptoms were present. I met Hart for lunch and ran some errands. I felt icky and headachy in the afternoon, so I rested for a bit between doing things around the house.

It was a big accomplishment. I feel like I can tackle the trip to return the extra curtains. If I adhere to my strategy even better, I might achieve a greater level of accomplishment.

11 thoughts on “Trip to Ikea Without a Meltdown or Migraine!”

  1. It’s the off-gassing of all the new products and in an inclosed poorly ventilated area. All new products off-gas. These gases are very toxic and cause a lot of health issues over time. It’s especially toxic to children! New is not always best.
    It not uncommon for people to become ill after bringing new ikea products home. Google “allergic to ikea” or ” IKEA allergies.” I worked there and developed Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. It affects people with sensitive immune systems. If you feel dizzy, nauseous, headache, sore burning eyes, and difficulty breathing you are probably reacting to the toxic chemicals in the air caused by the off-gassing of new furniture.
    Beware this is not joke and extremely bad for your health.

  2. Interesting comments. I got sick with fever and aching joints and labored breathing just being there for half hour. I assumed it was the outgassing of all the furniture. I still feel ill 48 hours later but better with fresh air.

  3. Ikea! What a love/hate relationship I have with that store! It amazes me that I have friends (who don’t get migraines) who can just “pop into Ikea.” Like you, I have to make BIG PLANS around going to the Ikea that is just down the street from me. Ikea is a migraine waiting to happen. And my plans include the crucial recovery time that you mentioned…

  4. I love IKEA but live 5 hours away! I inevitably get a migraine while I am there. I usually go to the store once a year (almost all of my furniture in my house is from IKEA now!) and I’ll take a triptan before I arrive. But the hugeness of it, the extra stimulation, the hours and hours that I spend there, I’m still washed out from it even when I take a prophylatic pill. IKEA is worth it- it’s my favorite store in the world!

  5. Kerrie, this is really striking me as quite funny. I’ve often thought of writing a blog entry about IKEA; I get a migraine attack each and every visit, but I just can’t stay away! (Well, I go once a year at the most, so I suppose I have some resistance.)

    Only once did I actually leave before I’d accomplished my goals. I had a bunch of furniture to get, but by the time I was in the storage room downstairs, I was too sick and dizzy to deal with finding the furniture and loading it onto a cart. Alas.

  6. Good plan. I make a point of stopping, first thing, at the Ikea cafeteria to eat and have coffee before I start shopping. It costs a few bucks and prepares me for the battle ahead. Don’t know if yours has a cafeteria but a nosh in the store takes the edge off the drive there, allows 20 minutes to rest, etc. I, too, go right when it opens which helps a lot. I hear the hour before they close is also quite peaceful.

  7. ooh, Ikea. I’ve only seen the online store – we do not have such a store here. There are other stores that give me the trigger, though. ugh. some I am aware of and dread going to, some, I usually get nailed with after I’ve been in for too long. usually half-way thru my shopping. something about the dim or so-called lighting makes me nauseaous. I can hear some of the lighting buzz, and it makes me dizzy. some places are far too bright adn the high aisles always throw my balance off. just color me weird. I’m just your tyypical migraineur

  8. Dear Kerrie,

    This amount of errands and activity is alot. I think you may be being too hard on yourself. I think I’ve said this before. As part of my migraine management I generally don’t go out after work. On the weekends I keep my activities to a minimium. I know I don’t have alot of stamina and too much stimulus is a trigger. I schedule fun and chores and errandy stuff like shopping but there is a limit. We can only push ourselves so far. I read what you did and I am like WOW, that’s impressive. Way more than what I could do. I’m tired just reading it. I think shopping and driving is tiring. Kudos to you though for being prepared and having a plan. Have you thought though of having Hart do the returns? Maybe taking that load off of you? Totally going off track, I am so sad the Red Sox did not make the Play Offs. After game 6 win I thought we would keep the momentum going but without a few key players… Those Rays, they were just too good for us. I’ll give it to them.

  9. I just love your blog. I always thought it was JUST ME who had all those bad reactions to Ikea, thought it was my personal inadequacy, not migraine disease at work. As I read your description of all the triggers and the confounding choices that drive me crazy when I’m at Ikea, I feel a little more human, a little more able to laugh and forgive myself. I love your guidelines, and what I like best is the strategy for the day after–headache threatening but not quite there, helped by resting, helped by not pushing too hard.

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