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disability for migraines at 27 years old

It’s NOT Just a Headache – My Struggle With Migraines

*This post is sponsored, but this journey and all opinions are 100% my own.*

No one ever thinks a debilitating pain will take over their life or that they may have to go on disability for migraines or leave their dream job. Yet, here I am, and this story is mine.

Why I Went on Disability for Migraines and Left My NYC Dream Job

If you had told me when I was a kid that I would spend most of my life suffering from debilitating migraines, I would NOT have believed you. But then at just 27 years old, I woke up and thought, “My head is throbbing!” It was actually my first migraine.

At the time and in that moment, I pushed it aside as a really bad headache.

Maybe I had a little too much to drink the night before.

What I thought would go away after a day, turned into a week of agony. Every time I woke up, I prayed that the throbbing headache would disappear. But every morning I woke to no relief.

Experiencing Common Migraine Triggers

After a few weeks of suffering because it was “just a headache,” I became unable to work. I was physically unable to sit at my computer and do my job.

The lights…

The sounds…

Almost anything would cause me to spiral into a darker place and a more painful environment. Even the stress of worrying about letting down my boss and my coworkers was actually causing my symptoms to worsen.

I was living in a cycle of pain and stress and worry, and I needed to find a way out ASAP.

The Search for Answers

Of course, like any healthy 27-year-old with zero prior history of any heath problems, I immediately Googled my symptoms and self-diagnosed everything under the sun.

Yep, it must be a brain tumor.

For sure, I am experiencing an aneurysm.

It really frightened me. After weeks of painfully calling in sick to my boss, I decided to go on disability, leave NYC, and try to find treatment in South Florida where most of my family lived. I focused on finding a diagnosis and a treatment.

My Path to a Diagnosis

The first thing I did was rule out anything major. I had an MRI scan of my brain. Once I was clear of anything more dangerous, my doctor officially diagnosed me with migraines. I felt relieved but also confused.

How could this pain just pop up after 27 years?

What had I done to set off these migraines?

I learned a lot in the early months. I learned that my migraines are a genetic neurologic disease – I inherited the mutated gene. While environmental and lifestyle factors may have contributed, ultimately, there was NOTHING I DID (or didn’t do) to cause this pain to suddenly appear.

By definition, a migraine is moderate to severe head pain, often worse on one side, with light and/or sound sensitivity and stomach issues, like nausea.

When you have a headache, if you have two of the three symptoms listed below, you more than likely have a migraine:

  • Light sensitivity
  • Inability to function (you want to lie down)
  • Nausea (not wanting to eat)

I also learned that migraine affects 1 out of 7 Americans annually and is a leading cause of outpatient and emergency department visits, particularly among women during their reproductive years. Migraines occur most often among women aged 18 to 44 years.


I was definitely experiencing migraines. I had my diagnosis, but what now?

At that moment, I began my path to finding relief.

Going from Disability for Migraines to Leaving My Job

I tried acupuncture, shock therapy, and even BOTOX®.

I tried many different over-the-counter medications and some prescriptions. It hurt so much some nights that I checked myself into the ER hoping to feel better even if just for a few short hours. I even tried to fly back to NYC hoping to work again, but the computer monitors in my office caused me to have auras.

I knew I wasn’t able to continue working there. My team needed help, and I could no longer hold them back. I had to quit my job, which was incredibly difficult for me.

The Best Advice for Migraine Management and Relief

In the early days, I spent 8 weeks in Florida fighting the worst pain of my life. I found a neurologist who encouraged me to keep a daily journal. She said, “RECORD every single thing you do!”

And that advice was ultimately the ticket to discovering my triggers and my way to pain management.

The SEEDS acronym is a great place to start if you’re on your own migraine relief journey.

S = Sleep hygiene – Are you getting enough sleep?
E = Eat regular meals – Don’t allow your blood sugar to drop too low.
E = Exercise regularly.
D = Keep a headache diary.
S = Prioritize stress management – Consider massage, acupuncture, and mindfulness or meditation.

Figure out what your triggers are because everyone’s are different.

Personally, I found a way to narrow down foods, drinks, and stress that were causing the onset of my attacks. Eliminating those things from my life was the key to managing my attacks and preventing them from occurring.

Dealing With After Migraine Effects

But managing the pain and making it to the other side of a migraine isn’t the only thing you have to worry about.

One thing I’ve noticed about migraines is the stigma that surrounds them. Many people I know still don’t understand what I go through when one hits. And they have a really hard time thinking of a migraine as more than just a headache.

Trying to explain to family and friends that I went on disability for migraines and then had to quit the job I loved for something they thought was “just a headache” was incredibly difficult.

But the bottom line is that my migraines are NOT “just a headache.” I now understand that I suffer from a neurologic genetic disease that often requires prescription medications. It is not a one-size-fits-all disease, and the treatment options vary for each person.

But for me, learning to track my symptoms and triggers has helped make living with a migraine disorder more bearable.

Final Thoughts on My Life with Migraines

Eight years after that first painful wakeup call, I still deal with up to three migraines every month.

But unlike during my single carefree days in NYC, I can’t just put the world on pause. As a mother of two, I don’t have the luxury of sitting in a dark room and waiting for the attack to pass. I can’t go on disability for migraines at this time in my life. I now have two little humans to take care of.

So I have a migraine action plan in place. I know how to tackle my migraines when I feel the first inkling of an attack coming on. And I rely on friends and family to help me when I need it most.

My family and loved ones are incredibly supportive!

In the end, you can’t just deal with a single migraine and move on. You have to find a way to live with this disorder while treating the pain appropriately.

And that is exactly what I have done. Going on disability for migraines and leaving my dream job was devastating. But I don’t let my migraine disorder take over my life and discourage me now.

Every person’s journey with migraines is different. Find others who share in your experiences with migraines, and lean on them as well as family and friends for support.

There is always hope.


I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Allergan to write about the realities of migraine as a neurologic disease. All opinions are my own.

Med-IQ is an accredited medical education company that provides an exceptional educational experience for physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals.

I chose to partner with Med-IQ to help generate awareness around migraine symptoms and treatment to help others find relief from these debilitating attacks.

*Links to external sites are provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only. They are not intended and should not be construed as legal or medical advice, nor are they endorsements of any organization. Med-IQ bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality, or content of any external site. Contact the external site for answers to questions regarding its content.

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  1. God, I feel you. I’ve had migraines since I got puberty. They’ve gotten only worse since I had kids. I had debilitating migraines through both of my pregnancies. They are awful. Still looking for something to manage them.

  2. Debilitating migraines are the worst. I am prone to get them more during the summer since heat and light is a big trigger for me.

  3. Girl, I feel you! I also suffer with migraines and it’s not funny. I notice that the come from eating a lot of salty food, or the type of lighting I’m exposed too. I get them the worse around that time of the month but other then that they have slowed down. I wish you the best.

  4. I’m so glad I read this post as I know a few people who have experienced migraines for more of their lives and I never really understood how difficult it truly is to endure. I’m so glad you came up with migraine action plan and found ways to alleviate the onset. I know for me, not getting enough sleep and not regulating my blood sugar levels absolutely take a toll, even without migraines. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Hoping you can keep your migraines at bay..
    Thank you for the SEEDS acronym … I get migraines too (but not as severe and the frequency has definitely reduced a lot of late)..

  6. This is such a great and informative article about migraines and how they can affect a person’s daily life. I’m so happy you listened to your body and got to the root of what was causing them for you. I totally agree, there are many misconceptions about migraines and I appreciate you sharing this info!

  7. Wow! I’m so glad you found your migraine triggers even if it took several years. Unfortunately, I am one who thought a migraine was just a headache, but now I know otherwise!

  8. I’ve been struggling with migraines since I was 14. I finally figured out that I was epileptic and the fluorescent lights were causing mini seizures. I remember the same feeling of comfort and confusion.

  9. I feel like my sister in law wrote this. She just experienced migraines for 12 days straight and was convinced it was a brain tumor or an aneurysm. It’s neither thank goodness. But migraines sound awful! She is still trying to figure out treatment for them.

  10. Migraines are so scary. I never experienced one until this year and I’ve had quite a few now. Thank you for sharing your journey they certainly knock me out for an entire day.

  11. Helpful post really about migraines. I observed that I always experienced headache when I lack sleep that’s why when I am on rest day I make it a priority to gain enough rest ready for another work day ahead.

  12. Omg! I’ll never forget my first migraine. It was the most painful thing ever. My heart goes out to anyone that suffers from them on a regular basis.

    Ps. Love your dress in these pictures.

  13. Happy to know that you have found a way to at least manage it. When I started your reading your post, the first thing that came into mind was that it must be an aneurysm. Thank you for sharing this information about migraines. It definitely brought my fresh insights and now less anxiety that I might have a brain tumor when it hurts like crazy.