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Daily Activities that are Almost Impossible with a Migraine

It’s no secret, I talk a lot about migraines. But that’s because they are legitimately a problem for daily activities, and I think it’s important for people to know about the prevalence of this condition.

Girl in a very bright light with text on the image.

Migraine Symptoms

I discuss my migraine symptoms in detail here. But it is important to note that sometimes the headache that comes with a migraine is only part of the problem.

In addition to head pain, migraines can include nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound. These migraine symptoms can last for hours or sometimes days.

I seem to have the headache part under control but I am light and sound sensitive almost every day. It causes me to be irritable, and even irrational.

My son just came in my office and started juggling and I nearly bit his head off because that movement in my visual field was completely overwhelming.

My boyfriend has been listening to me complain about all these symptoms for almost 2 years now and while he doesn’t suffer from migraines, he said it best the other day.

“Having a migraine is like experiencing life too much.”

He nailed it. That’s exactly what it is like for me. Light is coming at me in excruciatingly bright shards, sounds are overwhelmingly piercing, smells are totally over powering, and the combination of all this stimuli is just too much for my brain.

If it were a computer, it would be showing the blue screen of death and require a clean install.

*** 2018 UPDATE: See how the daith piercing for migraines has me basically migraine-free for two years! *** 

Daily Activities that Suffer with My Migraines

As you can imagine, all those migraine symptoms listed above have quite the impact on my ability to function.

With nearly 36 million other Americans also suffering with migraines, it’s helpful to note that perhaps that cranky person who served you coffee was really just suffering from a migraine.

Or the nasty human that didn’t hold the door for you was really just unable to handle the day.

Blurry words to show what it's like to read with a migraine.

Here are some the daily activities I find impossible to perform with a migraine:

  • Reading. Literally anything.
  • Being around lights. Bright lights are the worst. Especially from sources that are not diffused. Like a lamp in a corner is worse than a large overhead light that spreads throughout the room.
  • Movement in my field of vision.
  • …which leads to driving.
  • Speaking above a whisper.
  • Listening. It’s not just the sound, but actually focusing on them to process what ideas are being communicated is just not going to happen.
  • Being thoughtful. Having a migraine can really make you quite selfish. It robs you of the ability to think of others because you’re being totally bombarded by… everything.
  • Parenting. Because that pretty much involves all of the above listed things. :/

These really mundane tasks are oddly difficult:

  • Eating. Sometimes I’m just too nauseated to think about food.
  • Brushing teeth. Because the sound of that toothbrush scraping my teeth in my skull is deafening.
  • SleepingAs if all this isn’t torture enough, sometimes I can’t even sleep. I lay in the dark, unable to sleep.
  • Walking. And you better forget running. I have to walk like a feather-light ballerina to avoid jarring my brain.
Prepare a Migraine Emergency Kit to prevent your daily activities from suffering.

As you can imagine, if this goes on for days at a time, you might find me at my wit’s end. So, here are some tips for migraine sufferers:

  • Keep a migraine diary to record your daily activities and identify patterns in what preceded a migraine.
  • Make note of what potentially triggers your migraine; avoiding these things may lessen the frequency and/or severity of the attacks.
  • In addition to your doctor-prescribed treatment create a migraine “kit” to prepare for a sudden attack. (Sunglasses, ear plugs, plastic bag or basin in case of nausea or vomiting occurs.)

For more information about migraines, visit