Migraine Awareness Week 2015 – My Story

As it is migraine awareness week in the USA, I have been inspired to share a little about my condition. Usually it’s craft and positivity around here, so I hope you wont mind if I share a serious subject today. There will also be a little humour I promise.

I believe that in the UK, migraine is the least funded of all neurological conditions, yet 10% of the population suffer. This is more than diabetes, asthma and epilepsy sufferers combined. There are a number of resources I regularly use for information and management of my condition, so I will share these at the end of this post.

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This is what I look like an hour or so before a migraine comes on – oblivious but you can see my left eye is starting to drop ever so slightly!

Fellow migraine sufferer Gemma wrote this post which has inspired me to share my experience with migraine, so here are 30 questions to spread some awareness.

1) My diagnosis: Migraine without aura

2) Migraine attack frequency: around 2-3 a week.

3) I was diagnosed: around my teenage years, but I didn’t get specialist help until I was 28.

4) My comorbid conditions include: fatigue, IBS, anxiety.

5) I take: Triptans, daily preventative drugs, Naproxen and nausea meds (walking pharmacy!)

6) My first migraine attack: was many years ago as a young teen but I don’t remember it specifically.

7) My most disabling symptoms are: searing head pain, asphasia (loss of speech) and dizziness.

8) Strangest migraine symptoms: speech issues – it is crazy and embarassing if it happens when you are meeting people for the first time or if you’re at the checkout in the supermarket. I’ve also had hemi-plegic attacks which appear via stroke like symptoms – SUPER scary.

9) Biggest migraine triggers are: stress, neck pain, dehydration, lack of routine (holidays and travelling are the worst!).

10) I know a migraine is coming on when: I feel sick, yawn lots and my neck hurts.

11) The most frustrating part about having a migraine attack is: it halts your daily activities so much.

12) During a migraine attack, I worry most about: my to do list getting longer whilst I rest.

13) When I think about migraine between attacks, I think: It sucks so much but I have so much to be positive about.

14) When I tell someone I have migraine, the response is usually: sympathetic followed by ‘have you tried xyz’.

15) When someone tells me they have migraine, I think: you poor person I hope they find us a cure soon!

16) When I see commercials about migraine treatments, I think: anything is worth a try.

17) My best coping tools are: my migra-cap, hugs from G and fish finger sandwiches.

18) I find comfort in: cat cuddles (she lays on my head) and crochet – it’s a great distraction.

19) I get angry when people say: ‘you should do this, my friend did it and it worked’ – everyone is different.

20) I like it when people say: ‘how are you/been thinking of you’.

21) Something kind someone can do for me during a migraine attack is: leave flowers on my doorstep (a friend has done this for me and it was amazing), bring me a coca-cola and some fish fingers, give me a hug.

22) The best thing(s) a doctor has ever said to me about migraine is: ‘there is a menu of medicine to try, let’s work our way through them and you can review’ ha!

23) The hardest thing to accept about having migraine is: there is no cure and may not be one in my lifetime (although I still hope).

24) Migraine has taught me: to be productive and make the most of my well days.

25) The quotation, motto, mantra, or scripture that gets me through an attack is: It will pass, just hang in there. And if it doesn’t, G will take you to the emergency doctor and take photos of you looking like shit on the mini chairs in the waiting room.

26) If I could go back to the early days of my diagnosis, I would tell myself: migraine will be in your life forever, but you will not let it defeat you – stay happy.

27) The people who support me most are: G, my Mum (she suffers too), My Dad, My sister and my friends. Also, my migraine twitter buddies and fellow spoonies – you know who you are.

28) The thing I most wish people understood about migraine is: it is debilitating and so much more than just a headache.

29) Migraine and Headache Awareness Month is important to me because: it brings suffers together.

30) One more thing I’d like to say about life with migraine is: although it is a big part of my life, it doesn’t define me. If you know someone with migraine, talk to them about it.

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That visit to the emergency doctor when I tried to remain positive – see my left eye for an indication of pain! Excuse my outfit and hair, it was not my priority at that moment 🙂

I hope that was interesting for some of you! If you have read to the end, I’ve done my job of raising awareness of migraine. Here are the resources I use regularly.

National Migraine Centre – where I sought help

The Migraine Trust – Great for resources and advocacy / advice

Migraine Buddy App – How I track my attacks

Migraine Action – A supportive charity for sufferers / great events

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Ask Me Anything 2015: The Answers

It’s time for me to answer your questions for my Ask Me Anything series! Thanks to those of you who took time to leave a question and for being kind 🙂 Here we go…..

Gill asked “what’s your favourite thing to make? Also, how do you pose for photos and look so natural?!”

That’s a tough question! I do love to crochet and making garments is always really satisfying. However, I love making the personalised Scrabble Inspired Wall Art pieces for my customers as each one has a story or meaning attached. I recently made one for a groom to give to his bride and it touched me how romantic he was!

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Oh and I definitely don’t look natural all the time. Here’s a dodgy outtake from my photoshoot!

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Jo asked “Is Cambridge a good place to be a crochet fanatic? For example, is there a network of crafters, lots of good supplies, places to sell crocheted items? I’m moving back to Cambridge myself next year and would love to hear your view.”

Hi Jo! How exciting you are moving back to Cambridge!! If you are a crochet fanatic I would recommend visiting our local yarn stores Sew Creative and The Sheep Shop. Our John Lewis department store also has a good supply of yarn. Ravelry is a great place to find craft groups and there are a few dotted around the city, often held in cafes or pubs. Most people who sell crocheted items actually sell online, but I would recommend talking to the LYS for more advice on this!

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Jill said “I’d love to know more about your journey towards becoming a small business owner. How did you start? What has been your biggest challenge? How do you have the confidence to put yourself out there?! Any advice for someone wanting to start their own etsy store?”

My business has grown quite organically and having worked a day job alongside, I have had the financial security to take some risks which has helped. I began writing this blog in 2012 and shortly after I opened my store and then began freelance writing and hosting craft parties.  I love learning so just read blogs, books, articles and took classes along the way. One of the biggest challenges has been finding a balance between work life and home/social life. I find it really tough to have a day off now! My confidence has grown over the years and largely because people have interacted with my blog or purchased a product I’ve made. Everything takes time.

If you’re interested in starting an Etsy store I would recommend doing your research first and spending time on photography as it is so important for getting your items noticed. A good place to start is with the Etsy seller handbook. If you use this link to open your store, you will get 40 free listings.

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Lucinda asked “what was your favourite product you’ve developed and sold and why? Where is your favourite Cambridge place and the most important question must be why is Tammy so cute?”

I think it has to be the bicycle bracelets. I feel like they represent Cambridge for me and to see them sell so massively during the Tour De France last year, was so great!

Orange-Bicycle-BraceletMy favourite place in Cambridge is the river! I am lucky enough to live close to the riverside and I always feel like it is a space to breathe. Plus, I love punting in the summer as the vibe on the river is so fun. Don’t tell anyone, but it took me 6 years to learn how to punt.

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Glad you enjoy Tammy pics on the blog. I have to say, this one that Lucy took on our photoshoot is my favourite!

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Alice asked “If crafting was illegal what lengths would you go to that would ensure you could continue?” and “What was the last really vivid dream you had?”.

Wow that first question is tough!! I think I would just craft in my own home behind closed doors! I guess it if was illegal it would be difficult to find supplies, so I reckon I would make my own supplies such as cutting up old clothes for fabric and unravelling old jumpers to get yarn. I would probably have secret craft parties in my house too. Don’t tell!

Hmm the last vivid dream I had…..I can’t even remember! Oh yes! I recently took up roller skating and I dreamt I was AMAZING at it. When I woke up I was super disappointed as I realised it wasn’t true and I’d have to keep practising.

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Pippa asked “I want to learn how to make my own cards as you have inspired me – how would you recommend I start?”

So glad to have inspired you! Definitely experiment and find other card makers that inspire you (I recommend the Sizzix blog and not just because I write for them!). A lot of the cards I make have a simplistic style, so play around with supplies and ideas until you find your style and most importantly, just have fun with it! Mixed media cards are often fun too, so maybe try to combine different materials such as images, fabric, paper etc? Please do share anything you create with me, I’d love to see!

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Well that was fun! Thanks so much to everyone who asked a question and let’s just hope that crafting never becomes illegal…….I can’t even imagine it!

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Yay!

This week has been all kinds of busy and exciting. There have been whoop inducing emails, top secret projects and tons and tons of work. I am exhausted but LOVING IT.

Here’s a throwback Instagram post I shared this week that sums up my feelings. Thanks for being so supportive!

Back next week with hopefully some more DIYs and home themed posts! (If I can manage to tidy the craftermath that has taken over my entire house – sorry G!).

Happy weekends!

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Ask Me Anything 2015

Back in 2013 I did a series of posts where you guys could Ask Me Anything. As it has been exactly 2 years, I thought I would do it again, especially as there are lots more of you now yay!

So how does this work? You get to ask me whatever you like in the comments below and I have to answer in a second blog post. It can be about my business, my life, my blog, my cat, whatever you wish!

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I will do my best to answer every question and to be interesting! I like little experiments like these as I am really nosey and I bet some of you are too 🙂

The answers will be posted a week or so later – so keep an eye out. I’d love to also get to know you guys a little more, so please do tell me a bit about yourselves when you ask a question too.

So it’s over to you in the comments now – be kind!

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Think Happy Thoughts

I consider myself a positive person. To a certain extent it comes naturally, but I often think about positivity and gratitude and what they mean to me.

G sometimes laughs at me for my love of motivational quotes (he’s very practical and scientific, rather than a dreamer), but I wholeheartedly believe a little reminder can make a big difference. My current planner dashboard has given me a productivity boost with a (curse) word or two!

I know that a positive mindset doesn’t always come easy for some people, so I want to share with you a few techniques I practice to keep my positive focus.

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Practice Gratitude

Being a planner geek and Project Lifer, I like to organise and document my life before, during and after events take place. The after is most important as it allows me to reflect on the positive moments and to remind myself of the good things I have. Although not consistently, I take time each week to note a few things that I am grateful for (perhaps on a journalling card in my planner).

Enjoy The Simple Things

When I am at the day job and a migraine starts, working close to home has a great advantage. G looks after me when this happens. I get home to a cup of herbal tea, my cold migra-cap, and my pjs and slippers heated up on the radiator. He covers me in a blanket and checks on me regularly. We make sure the cat is within snuggling distance. It helps SO much and I am really grateful.

Someone else makes you a cup of tea, or offers to do the dishes or just tells you to look outside because it is snowing. In the winter our electric blanket brings us a lot of joy and we don’t care if that makes us boring. In the summer I revel in being able to cycle through my historic city in the sunshine. I literally grin like the Cheshire Cat.

I find that appreciating thoughtful and simple moments helps to boost my mood.

Let Things Go

In general, I am not one to hold a grudge. Over the last year, a couple of (not dramatic) things happened to me that bothered me more than they should have. I felt all knotted up inside at not being able to immediately let any anger/betrayal/frustration go.

Eventually those negative feelings did go and I began to see the positive aspects of the tricky or upsetting situation. I’ve always been someone who just gets on with things and I believe that you are the only person who has the ability to really change your life. So I never understood the purpose of moaning and not taking action.

OK, I do love a little moan every now and again (I think it’s good to rant to clear your mind), but I don’t want to hold those negative thoughts and I try to see what I can do to move forward and change focus. I turn the negative into a challenge for improving myself.

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Celebrate Success

Shameless self promotion? Oh go on then! It is SO important to reflect and share. This year, I have started to record my achievements. Both personally via my Project Life scrapbook, but also professionally. Each month I am tracking my productivity for Claireabellemakes by logging what I have achieved and celebrating success by sharing with others.

Being able to reflect on my month/year has been instrumental to motivating me in all aspects of my life. I have let the not so great things go (bereavements, rejection, poor health) and made a conscious decision to focus on the positive events and memories. I am celebrating when I have a week without a migraine and when I get an exciting sale in my store.

Have a glass of wine (or apple juice in my case) and toast your hard work. Life isn’t easy and people should know how ace you are.

Spread Positivity

Ring someone you love and tell them you miss them. Give a homeless person a hot drink on a windy day. Make your friend aware that you are proud of her achievements and tell her that she inspires you. Tell your Dad that you finally watched that movie he lent you months ago that he really wanted your opinion on. Send a letter, snail mail is so thoughtful.

And no word of a lie, at the same time as writing the paragraph above (after a few horrid migraine days), a message from my sister popped up with the subject “to cheer you up”. Attached was a photo of my niece and nephew holding up big moustache pillows to their faces. It made my day.

How do you think happy thoughts? Fellow blogger Lisa has a great series on Positivity – definitely worth checking out! Come share your positivity with me on social media using the hashtag #thinkhappy.

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