The reality of a Chronic Condition
I’ve blogged about migraines before. This was yesterday. A migraine day. On days like this I sleep a lot and do the work that I can horizontally. With my dogs on top of me. As a full-time, working voice actor, on my good days, when my head is perfectly clear, I often let the thought creep into my mind: maybe I’ll never get another migraine. On a clear day, meaning a headache free day, I feel amazing. I am happy. I have no pain. I can record and work with clients and I am myself. But for me, migraines have been chronic since I had my twins almost 18 years ago. So, what does this mean as a working mom and a small business owner who wants to serve my clients well on good days and on bad ones? It means that I have to make choices that will not cause more migraines, and when I have them I have to be realistic about what I can reasonably do on a given day to accommodate my voice over clients.
No Live Sessions
As a working pro voice actor, I love doing live sessions, but will not do them on migraine days. Why? Migraine medication is strong. On a clear day, I am responsive. I can listen to client feedback and deliver. I also mimic well. On a migraine day, I struggle. Every thing I do all day long is a struggle. I am proud of what I accomplish on those days, but I do not feel a need to put my struggle under a microscope. The few times I have made exceptions for clients I have regretted it every time. They have not been my best sessions. If you are a migraine sufferer too, I suggest only self- directing on those days.
Hydrating and Eating Healthy
On clear days and migraine days, the choices I make about what I put in my body for food and drink make a profound difference in my well-being. On a clear day, I always try to drink half my body weight in ounces of water. I need to stay hydrated so that I can do my voice over work. My hope is that by hydrating I will also prevent headaches from coming on. On migraine days, I hydrate to help get through the headache. I will confess that I typically also need a ginger ale to help combat the nausea, but beyond that I drink a lot of water to help make the headache pass.
Making healthy food choices is essential to migraine survival. In general I am gluten and dairy free and try to avoid foods hat cause inflammation. According to Healthline, “Gluten may trigger migraines in people who don’t have celiac disease but instead have a sensitivity to gluten. Gluten sensitivity isn’t well-understood yet.” I have to avoid a lot of foods, like bananas and those that contain milk products, particularly fresh dairy. For me, there is a difference between having a small bit of melted cheddar cheese and fresh mozzarella. According to Harvard University’s journal Article, “Could a Hidden Allergy Be Causing Your Migraines?” the article explains that “Foods high in fat can also trigger headaches , but, to many migraine sufferers, supposedly healthy foods such as wheat (gluten), dairy and bananas, are also problems. However, there is currently no accepted consensus among scientists on how so many innocuous foods could induce migraines.” So, for me, I have found that my headaches are more easily managed when I eat small, frequent meals without my typical triggers. On headache days, I tend to want to eat more carbs, which must be a comfort food for me.
Remembering my Limitations/Keeping Goals in Focus
I will confess that I do make choices knowing that the wrong one could lead to a Migraine. I leave fun events early, like industry wide BBQs. I often turn down dinner invitations that I really want to say yes to, even at conferences, because I know that late nights will certainly lead to a migraine. Essentially, my limitations have to stay in the forefront of my mind, otherwise I will have more migraines come my way than I can handle, and that, frankly, would no be good for my voice over business. I also have to limit my work day. For example, this week I got a new demo back. I was so excited to start marketing it that I worked for hours after dinner, well past my bed time. Guess what? I had a horrendous migraine and lost most of the next day. I pushed beyond my limitations and it was not smart.
I think about it this way: I try to set myself up for success. I regularly keep my small business goals in focus, and in order to stay on track for those goals, migraine maintenance is part of my strategy. If I lose site of my health and wellness strategy, it is inextricably linked to my business goals. I was reading a new book about food and nutrition yesterday and it sparked I kind of light bulb moment for me, but it relates to this, too. First, there was a survey about my physical health. Then there was a survey about my mental health. Lastly, there was a survey about my financial health. The book went on to explain how the three are linked, and when any of them is not in balance the others too are out of balance.
For me, as a working mom, I need to my business to run well for so many reasons, but that is another blog. If I cannot keep migraine maintenance in check, then none of my voice over goals will be within reach.