Departments: Pictures of You
Demi, on living with chronic migraine.
A photo series of Neurology Now readers.
To see more of Annie Levy's photography, go to annielevy.com.
Demi, 18, high school senior with chronic migraine.
When were you diagnosed? I've had headaches since before I was 10, but I was officially diagnosed at age 12.
What are the biggest challenges you face? Finding a new normal. I can't keep up with my peers all the time. I used to swim competitively, but I had to stop because an elevated heart rate can lead to a migraine. This was all trial and error, figuring out what I could or couldn't do. I know my limits now. Another challenge, particularly at school, is having a chronic illness that is “invisible”—I don't look sick.
Is there something that you have found particularly helpful in coping with the illness? Yes! Music. I'm a teenager, so I always have my iPod. Music has really helped me deal with migraine. If I'm in my bed at home or in a hospital bed being poked with an IV, I can listen to music and it's something to focus on besides the pain. I especially like One Direction and Ed Sheeran.
What does the future hold? I got accepted to all the colleges I applied to, even though I missed 160 days of high school. I am interested in working in counterterrorism and national security. If that doesn't work out, I want to go into politics. I had a great experience being part of Headache on the Hill, which is sponsored and led by the Alliance for Headache Disorders Advocacy. It's a yearly event in Washington, D.C.
Any advice to others with a chronic condition? Remember that while you may have a disease, your disease does not have you. Find something that you can focus on when you have a lot of pain or are just having a bad day, whether that's music, art, or whatever else makes you happy.