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Disclaimer: This is my story. This is not intended as medical advice.
Today my boyfriend sent me a tweet:
It got me thinking about how I have not had a single migraine since September 2020 … aka the month I came off birth control because I was no longer able to absorb it due to inflammation in my gut caused by severe Crohn’s Disease. I had been on birth control for seven years and after reading the studies the previous summer showing links between hormonal birth control and IBD after long term use, I was about to throw in the towel. However, I didn’t because my doctors strongly advised against it. “Heavier periods, hormonal changes, and the risk of getting pregnant while sick are not safe for you,” they said, and asked to switch me on to something else because no one in the previous years had mentioned to me that my migraines with aura made me more at risk for clots.
I’m not trying to place blame, in fact I take full responsibility for burying my head in the sand all those years. I just feel like it’s my job to share my story and experience in case anyone stumbling across this blog post reads it and draws similarities to their experience. This story is also not to shame anyone. We’re all just doing our best and trying to make decisions for ourselves in a very emotionally charged world of black and white, right and wrong. It’s ok to land in a grey space.
I started getting migraines in 2017 after a loved one died. I buried my emotions and didn’t know how to process what had happened, so the stress compounded and manifested as anxiety, depression, and migraines with aura. They would come in three month cycles. Sometimes I would only have one or two on a good cycle and the next would be everyday. It was like a switch flipped every three months.
When I started going to therapy in late 2019, I would get a migraine every single time I went to therapy. It would start as we were wrapping up and I would go outside and sit in my car because I would lose my vision for quite awhile. Because of this, my therapist and I speculated that the migraines were a direct result of the PTSD I had been diagnosed with, and sure enough as we progressed, the migraines started to stop during the sessions.
Then I got Crohn’s a few months later and with the added stress on my body, the migraines felt unbearable. I learned through research that painkillers exacerbate inflammation over time, so I felt guilty for taking them wondering what they were doing to my body. I knew my body had just hit a wall so I started learning how to love on it and give it space over the summer of 2020, when I also learned about the link between birth control and Crohn’s.
In the months that followed I started to feel more and more in my gut that the birth control was not aligned with me or serving my body like the doctors claimed it was. That’s when I started waking up in the middle of the night after taking the pill to throw up and knew I had to stop it. I quit cold turkey because I had already lost 20 pounds and throwing up was just not on my agenda.
It’s now April and it’s 7 months post quitting. I have horrendous acne, but my periods are coming back after three cycles of not having it and I’m understanding more and more how to support my body with food. The acne is hard to handle, as it’s very painful and makes me feel low, but it’s gotten easier to reframe: It’s not going to last forever and this way I am supporting my body naturally and in the way that feels best for me.
All that being said, after seeing that tweet I realized it’s been 7 months since I’ve had a migraine. No more cycles of “good” and “bad” months, no more auras, no more debilitating headaches. While my healing process and healing chronic stress definitely contributed to how I’m feeling now, I find it a bit strange that they went “poof” exactly when I stopped feeding my body synthetic hormones.
Today I am grateful for where I am and looking forward to the day that I have clear skin and long mermaid hair again 😉 I know it’s coming and I know good health is on the horizon. Sending lots of love to anyone navigating overwhelming feelings of guilt, doubt, confusion, and anger when it comes to your health. Your future self is smiling down at you and encouraging you – someday you’ll have a hell of a story!
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