They became more frequent and started to occur earlier and earlier in the day over the course of a fortnight. Until they ended up a daily occurrence. Each time I could feel the migraine symptoms arising, I’d begin to have a panic attack which would result in me breaking down in tears. And if you know me, I tend to hide my tears. So, for me to be breaking down at work in front of everyone – it was bad.
Over time, these migraines then morphed into a fuzzy, snowy vision that was continuous. Think of the static you’d see on an old-school television when it couldn’t find the channel. I had that in front of my vision all day, every day.
It was there when I woke up and it was there when I went to bed. Day in and day out.
This lasted for well over a year. I recall it being a sad day when I desperately laughed about marking the one year anniversary mark of fuzzy vision.
I saw a whole variety of different health professionals to try and resolve this.
Several doctors to double-check opinions and be given pain killers to manage it – they did nothing. In the end I was on such a high dose (the same as would be given after surgeries!), it would simply knock me out until the migraine subsided.
An osteopath to treat me from a mechanical stance – remove any tension from my neck and jaw. It helped relieve muscle tightness but not the vision problems.
An optometrist to confirm there was nothing wrong with my eyes.
I saw a neurologist and had a CT scan to confirm there was nothing they could see impinging on the brain.
Lastly, I visited a neuro-ophthalmologist who specialises in the brain / eye link. He still couldn’t identify what was going on and instead placed another label on what I had.
I had a ‘diagnosis’ but still no real way of treating it as they didn’t know much about the condition. I was instead actually offered to be part of a research study on the subject. I was prescribed yet another medication. This was an anti-epileptic medication which came with a whole range of side effects. I lost a lot of weight and looked gaunt and withdrawn.
But the scariest side effect was the feeling of numbness that came with it.
I didn’t feel there was any purpose or joy in life. I didn’t care about anything – either good or bad. There was just no point to anything at all. I had developed depression as a side effect of this. Luckily, I still had the loving support of people around me who encouraged me to stop the medication and within a short period of time, I was starting to feel like my old fuzzy visioned self.
You’re probably wondering how I overcame all this?
It was the strangest thing and something that none of the health professionals that I’d seen over the past year or so had talked about…
Kingsley and I had a six-week holiday adventure planned to South America. Admittedly when we left I was feeling pretty glum about having to go. By the end of second week into the holiday, I started feeling better. My vision had cleared up. I was no longer having headaches. I felt good! I didn’t have a care in the world! I was starting to love life again!
Then it dawned on me – this whole condition had been caused by stress! I was working in an extremely stressful environment where I’d frequently be working 80+ hour weeks. I’d be leaving home well before the sun was up and arriving home in the evenings after Kingsley was in bed (which of course puts a strain on any relationship)! I’d stopped attending my Pilates classes which were always my saviour in terms of physical and metal health; and I no longer had time to see my friends.
Essentially, I no longer had my physical health, my mental health, relationships or work/life balance. Remove any one of these things from someone’s life and it has an impact. Remove a whole bunch of them and its very bad news.
Looking back on this, it’s no wonder I had these migraines and visual snow.
I was majorly suffering from chronic stress!
Isn’t it crazy to think about the effect of chronic repetitive stress response in the body?! I know I’m not the only one out there that has been impacted to greatly by stress either!