My story

Hi my name is Brenda. I love pretty china, designer handbags, geek culture and pub trivia. I live in Perth, Australia with my partner, youngest son, dog (who is more like my actual youngest son) two cats and two chickens. Plus an enormous Irish Catholic extended family. I also have chronic migraine.

I have had episodic migraine since age 30 (I’m 47 now). That’s the sort of migraine that most people are aware of where you have an attack every now and then and you might have some known triggers.

Chronic migraine is way more fun than that. It is defined as having more than 15 headache days per month. Currently I’m sitting around 15 but my personal best is 28 headache days in a month. Here’s the thing when you have such frequent attacks. Migraines typically have what are called prodrome and postdrome which means that you have some symptoms for a day or two before and after attacks. So I am very rarely completely symptom free. But I’m one of the lucky ones because some people never get a day without painful symptoms.

Following a nasty and stressful divorce 6 years ago my episodic migraines became progressively more frequent. They have been chronic for about the last 3 years. After struggling on and trying my best to keep up I had to stop work about six months ago. I had been working as a project manager in the health industry in a job that I loved. With so many sick days and days where I was functioning at reduced capacity it became impossible to do my job effectively.

At the moment I am claiming Sickness Allowance and am going through the process of claiming income protection insurance. Things are a bit tight financially and stressful right now but once the insurance comes through I have income for the next five years which will allow me to recover, retrain or re-prioritise my life.

Currently I am taking part in a drug trial for a medication called Aimovig. So far I have had some improvement in my condition but I am still at a level and frequency of attacks that is quite disabling. The effects of this medication are cumulative so hopefully I will continue to improve over time. I’ll keep you posted!

Migraine in general and chronic migraine in particular are poorly understood by most people who have not experienced one. I hope that by telling my story I can contribute to improving awareness and understanding and to raise the profile of the condition in the Australian health system.