Hi out there.
Woah I've been blogging a bit over the holiday break. It feels good to write. My mission over the next few months is to finish up my holistic nutritionist certificate so I'll be buried in books.
Another month has passed by and it's time for me to check in on the process of weaning off my migraine-preventive medication (amitriptyline). If you're just jumping in, visit my initial post, month one and month two. Also, I recommend reading the book Heal Your Headache to gain a better understanding of the migraine-preventive medication often offered to those struggling with migraines (vestibular migraines in my case) and why.
Although it's happily been an uneventful month as I slowlyyy wean off the medication, I think the emotional component is something that I'll slowly need to work through. The medication has been a security blanket sort of speak. At 21 months in with the vestibular stuff I started the medicine to tackle the spontaneous attacks that would happen. As I've mentioned in the past, in my mind I was 90% better at that time, but the random vestibular migraine attacks were crushing my soul. I'd be riding high at my 90% better, so thankful for the progress I'd made, and then BAM- the symptoms (see below) would reappear and intensify. The first 18ish months had been constant symptoms (with great improvement over that time) so the feeling associated with each of these attacks was deep and it hurt.
As someone who believes in the power of holistic wellness with all my heart, going on a medication for migraines was a big decision. It's one I discuss more in my book.
Below are the vestibular migraine symptoms I experienced most intensely during episodes:
DISSOCIATIVE SYMPTOMS- this was my biggest symptom and the worst; it included derealization (disconnected from my environment) and depersonalization (disconnected from my body)
ANXIETY- this spike was often my telltale sign of what was to follow
LIGHTHEADEDNESS- feeling like I might faint (this is a symptoms I experienced throughout my twenties along with derealization)
PHOTOPHOBIA- sensitivity to light or intolerance of light; big box stores and/or florescent lights were the hardest to handle
VERTIGO- feeling like my world was spinning even though I was still
VISUAL ISSUES / DIMINISHED EYE FOCUS- difficulty focusing my eyes and my world appearing skewed (although I could completely see)
SPACIAL DISORIENTATION- suddenly needing to make sense of where I was; feeling unaware of my body's position
NAUSEA- this symptoms made a strong appearance at times causing vomiting
NECK PAIN- this would often happen before other symptoms made a strong appearance; turning my neck would become difficult and painful to the touch
As I've reduced my dosage this month, I've been keeping up with my holistic support (full routine here). I'll give you a glimpse of what my days (with my natural toolkit of oils) looks like as well as some of the other blissful things that fuel my soul. It has provided me peace of mind as I reduce the dosage, using oils to support my mind & body as well as following my vestibular migraine diet plan. Although, with the holidays I've certainly indulged in plenty of chocolate. Chocolate (vegan) has never been an issue for me and for that I'm thankful. Coffee on the other hand has certainly not always been a friend of mine.
Ok, onto the holistic goodness! [visit my favorite oils for Vestibular Warriors to get yours]
ADAPTIV OIL BLEND:
-I apply this blend on my wrists and back of my neck throughout the day, and it smells dreamy!
-WHY: the oils' properties help boost mood, assist in centering, increase feelings of tranquility, soothe and uplift, and reduce feeling of anxiousness and tension
-I take a few drops of this oil in a veggie capsule morning and night (or use the softgels); I also will apply this oil to my temples if I feel any migraine pain trying to break through
-WHY: the oil's properties support the health of the cardiovascular, immune, and digestive systems when ingested, powerful antioxidant benefits when taken internally, internal use helps calm, soothe, and support the nervous system, and it promotes clear, smooth skin and reduces the appearance of blemishes
-I apply this oil on my temples and dab underneath my nose to wake up in the morning. I'll also apply it to my temples throughout the day, as needed.
-WHY: It is cooling and soothing and its properties combat migraines. Woohoo.
And I talk all about the supplements I take in my Vestibular Warrior e-book and on this page.
I've been starting my days with a matcha latte which is pure fuel for my soul. I've been using Good Mylk Ceremonial Matcha Latte powder + oat milk. I confess that I have quite a love for going to coffee shops on my work lunch hour and treating myself to a matcha latte, but my goal is to make them more at home. I think my wallet will appreciate the effort. I try to make green juice (this recipe) during the workweek and drink that before the latte or midday. It's a way for me to get a punch of goodness.
So the fear piece- weaning off the medicine means that I really need to be in touch with triggers. The medicine took me from 90% to 100% most days, and I've had very minimal vestibular symptoms the last 1.5 years. I do get migraine pain here and there, but the vestibular storm has been quite quiet. Man that's a beautiful thing to be able to say. In no way am I looking to disrupt that. I want to do what is best for my wellness and ultimately I do not want to rely on a medication for life. I want to figure this out. As I write this I very much feel like I'm confessing something to a journal, so I hope it comes through the emotion I have wrapped up in this decision.
I don't have any set plan for what officially getting completely off the medication will look like. I'm going with the flow and reducing by no more than 5mg each month. Of course we're all different, so check in with your doctor before making any changes. There's a variety of migraine medications/dosages and our bodies react in different ways. I wish I knew exactly what it will look like, but that's impossible, so my plan is to be intentional with my wellness routine, listen to my body and keep plugging through it.
Onto another month! Also, a new episode is up on the Bliss Out Vibes podcast. It's about time, right?
Hi out there!
I'm back, and with pink hair. I finally dyed it the color I wanted when I was 16. Only took me close to 17 years.
We just put up our Christmas tree and I'm sitting on the couch beneath the lights. It was just around this time last year when I created Bliss Out... I've got David Gray "This Year's Love" playing in my headphones. The first time I heard the song was while watching Dawson's Creek close to 15 years ago. I used to only buy soundracks. If I liked a movie or a show, I'd go search out the soundtrack. Don't worry, I've evolved...a bit. I've compiled a list of many of my favorite songs (right now) on Spotify (search Bliss Out by Emily Englert).
Anyways- I swear I didn't pop in to just ramble. For starters, I'm really here with a very happy update.
I'm here to announce the release of my book. YAYYYY!!! It's called Uncovering Bliss: A Journey with a Vestibular Condition and Beyond. I started writing it close to a year ago and then put it down for a while during the move to Seattle. In the last few months I jumped back in with my heart and soul finishing it up. I was in a beautiful place to reflect on the last three+ years and what that chapter of my life means to me. My mission is to bring a voice to the mind & body experience of a vestibular condition and expose the thoughts and feelings that decorated my journey. It was so difficult to explain what it felt like in the moment and it's only in retrospect that it's been much easier. If someone is in the beginning or messy middle with a vestibular something, I want them to have a friend on the trail.
It's available in e-book and softcover format, and I so appreciate your inspiration and support.
And now let's talk about month two of weaning off my migraine-preventive medicine. This is a topic I touch on in my book. I think it's important to expose the story and the why behind my decision to try a migraine medication. It's such a personal journey, but I know it's one so many of us travel. If you're new, I encourage you to read my first post and on month one, and then come back here.
Well, it has been an uneventful month as far as decreasing my medication dosage. Boy am I grateful for that! I'm taking it slow and I'm not quite sure how long the process will take, but my guess is the better part of a year. My mission is to take it slowww and steady. To let my body acclimate with each shift and provide beautiful holistic support every step of the way.
I've been keeping up with the routine I started from the beginning:
The difference is that I've been taking copabia essential oil internally morning and night Copaiba is one of the most inflammatory substances on earth and I think that is AWESOME.
It can be used to combat headaches + migraines and that is absolutely my intent. It's also wonderful support for anxiety + sleep issues, so I certainly want to provide goodness in those areas as well. The anxiety that came with my vestibular condition was a storm. It was a beast of its own. Over the last year as I've found myself in a beautiful balanced state, I consistently turn to the things that help me feel my best, and using oils is certainly one of them (along with yoga, meditation, plant-based diet, supplements...it's a team of things that I discuss in my Vestibular Warrior e-book).
I was so tempted to have coffee over the Thanksgiving holiday. I was feeling so good and really thought about it. But then I remember the VM attack I had post downing of a cold brew coffee in July and I convinced myself that it was not worth the dreamy cup of joe. I proceeded to order myself Rasa on Black Friday because there was a happy deal and oh how I love the cacao flavor.
I've honestly been feeling really awesome this month. I had a few nights of head pain, but nothing oils, chugging water, some heat and sleep didn't kick. As we jump into December, I plan to dive more into move + meditate workouts each morning. I mean I have no excuse... the Christmas tree lights are glowing and I couldn't ask for a better personal yoga studio by the tree ;)
How are you doing?
I'd love to hear from you!
I promised I'd be back to document the process of weaning off my migraine medication. If you haven't read my first post, stop by here first. It's only been a month, so while that's not a long period of time, it's a start. Got to start somewhere, right?
This post is about what I'm doing to level up my holistic support game as I wean off the migraine-preventive medication. I know that the weaning process can cause symptoms and side effects and I'm trying to make this transition as blissful as possible. I'm really excited to have developed a routine. It certainly gives me confidence as well as mind & body support as I tackle this this next path in my vestibular journey.
coming off migraine medication
Along with the holistic goodness I talk about below, I will be doing move + meditate workouts! There was a period last year when I was meditating and doing a yoga-type workout every single day. It felt truly amazing and I really found a more balanced state. It only took thirty minutes out of my day and I know as I dive deeper into coming off the med, I need to incorporate Kait Hurley workouts. I've been more sporadic in my workouts lately, making an effort to get in a city walk most days, but I plan to get back into the routine of working out as a way to start off my day. It just feels so damn good when I do- mind & body bliss! Pairing oils with the move + meditate sessions is dreamy.
While I slowly decrease the dosage of my migraine preventive medication, I'm using my essential oils + supplements to support my body in finding its balanced state (without the medicine) and combating any symptoms that may arise along the way. As I'm only a month in, I can't say that I've noticed any changes with the medicine decrease, and for that I'm so happy! I've been feeling fantastic. I've got a ways to go though. When I started the weaning process, I made a game-plan. Although I do not know how long this process will take, I do know what I'll be doing throughout it. I'm sure it will get shifted and upgraded as I go along, but I'm confident with this beautiful start.
the what & why of my natural treatment
I am a lover of pure plant essential oils. That's no secret. I started using oils in the months after I was diagnosed with vestibular neuritis, and three years later, I've never looked back. It has been one of the best decisions I've made for my wellness, especially in the throes of healing from a hellish vestibular condition.
I'm going to share the main holistic support I'm focusing on right now. My plan is to meet with a new neurologist soon and (hopefully) gain some insight on decreasing my dosage slowly but surely. If you're finding this post and wanting to do the same, awesome! Let's embark on this journey together. I recommend that you work with your doctor on the best way to wean off your particular migraine medication and the dosage decrease that you should follow. Then it's up to you to implement the beautiful holistic goodness to support YOU.
Ok, here I go!
what I'm doing as I wean off the migraine medication
ADAPTIV CALMING BLEND CAPSULES:
made of: blend of CPTG essential oils Lavender, Coriander, Wild Orange, and Fennel along with Sceletium, GABA, and Ahiflower. [note: GABA, helps promote relaxation.]
benefits: calms and promotes positive feelings; supports mood and helps improve state of mind; helps when acclimating to new surroundings and adapting to stressful situations; encourages relaxation; supports cognitive function and emotional balance; promotes mental well-being
how to: I take one Adaptiv Calming Blend Capsule daily to combat stress, tension, and occasional anxious feelings
ADAPTIV TOUCH (OIL BLEND):
made of: pure plant oils- Wild Orange, Lavender, Copaiba, Spearmint, Magnolia, Rosemary, Neroli, and Sweetgum in a base of Fractionated Coconut Oil
benefits: helps boost mood; assists in centering; increases feelings of tranquility; soothes and uplifts; reduces feelings of anxiousness and tension
how to: I apply the roller to pulse points to help with feelings of balance; massage on my shoulders and neck to ease tension and relieve fatigue; and apply to hands, rub together, and inhale deeply as needed throughout the day; and roll on wrists and temples whenever I feel the need to gain composure quickly
made of: synergy of tumerones and curcuminoids, in order to maximize the effectiveness and benefits of both compounds for a healthy inflammatory response
benefits: combines the complementary benefits of both turmeric essential oil with the joint support of the curcuminoids of turmeric extract in a unique and convenient delivery system; helps support a healthy inflammatory response in the body (yes, please!)
how to: I take a capsule (with Copaiba described below) before bed. If I'm feeling a headache upon waking, I take a capsule in the morning as well
made of: copaiba resin
benefits: powerful antioxidant; soothes and supports the nervous system
how to: I take one softgel as needed, most often before bed with Turmeric capsule [note: I also take Copaiba if symptoms intensify, especially during a vestibular migraine attack]
made of: pure plant peppermint!
benefits: soothes/combats headache; invigorating; soothes stomach upset
how to: I apply Peppermint to my temples when I first wake-up in the morning, and as needed all throughout the day. It's my BFF oil ;)
The awesome thing about oils is although I'm using them to cater to my personal needs at this stage, they also support my overall glowing health. I love that!
I hope that you find this helpful and of course reach out if you have any questions!
Also, if you want to join in the fun, I've included a link below that makes it simple for you to purchase each of the products I describe above (and any other oils you may be excited about!). Note, doTERRA ships around the world, so if your home is outside the US, shoot me a quick message here and I'll help you order. Upon ordering, you'll also receive a note and little gift from me. Let me know if you're a Vestibular [and/or Migraine] Warrior too- I'd love to connect with you! Be sure to visit the Vestibular Warrior Wellness Hub.
Sending happy vibes your way!! See you next month with another update.
weaning off migraine medication: my journey
It's been a while (hello, six months) since I've written a blog post. While I've been absent on the blog, there's been a lot happening in this space for Vestibular Warriors as well as in other areas of my life: cross country happy move from NY to Seattle, embracing our new home, exploring the city, I'm back in school studying holistic nutrition, in the process of finalizing a vestibular warrior project (more on that soon, promise!) and... beginning the weaning of my migraine medication.
Woah, that was a mouthful.
I contemplated sharing the process of coming off migraine medication the same way that I questioned sharing my life with vestibular neuritis/vestibular migraines. I was silent for a [dark] while, then sharing became a light in my life and a beautiful part of my healing. Ultimately, I know that I must share. Creating Bliss Out has always been about bringing to fruition what I so desperately needed in the thick of the vestibular messy middle. It's about holistic health and a hub for us to own our wellness. Even better, a place to create our glowing wellness.
Sharing the ups and downs of my story has meant the world to me because I know there are so many others walking similar trails trying to figure out this vestibular migraine life (or any migraine or vestibular condition, insert yours here). I want to share while I'm in the throes rather than after the fact, especially because there's a possibility that you're going through something similar and we can support one another. Us Vestibular Warriors get each other in a way that no one else does and for that I'm beyond grateful.
So, here I go talking about my next step. I've begun the process of weaning off my migraine-preventive medication.
Why did I start taking migraine medication?
The short answer: I was done with the out-of-the-blue attacks that would sink me deep back into the vestibular migraine symptoms (derealization, dizziness, nausea, anxiety, eyes drifting). That being said, I wanted to heal naturally and I didn't want a medication covering up my symptoms. It was a conflict within me. My worst episode was in the weeks before I started the medication. I was out to lunch on vacation and my world went sideways. I wanted a quick(er) fix.
The long answer: At 1.5 years in in I was tired of the surprise attacks and ready to try something else. Looking back I certainly could have made a different decision, but this felt right at the time. My symptoms had been 24/7 the first year (battling vestibular neuritis, most likely) and around year one I felt like there was something else at play. I had no diagnosis and no doctor had mentioned vestibular migraines to me. I was talking to a fellow vestibular warrior telling her how I felt so much better, but the symptoms were waxing and waning without predictability and I couldn't make sense of it. She told me she understood completely and that she had been diagnosed with vestibular migraines. Light-bulb moment!
By 18ish months in I was at a beautiful 90% better, which is freaking blissful compared to the hell of the first year. I know that percentage is arbitrary to read, but I'll explain. I'd be going along my merry way so close to touching normalcy and BAM. I'd get swarmed with symptoms without warning and it would crush my soul and take days (and often longer) to come out of it. I'd hit my happy 90% again having climbed the mountain out of the darkness and just as I got to the top and enjoyed the view, another episode would hit. It was a vicious cycle that was draining. So draining.
I wanted to heal completely holistically. I wanted it so damn bad, and I still believe in it. At twenty-one months in I had my first appointment with a neurologist who specialized in vestibular migraines. All her education and all she could offer me was medication, but I knew this going into the appointment. I had made up my mind before I walked in her office that day.
I was ready to get behind a medication to break the cycle. That became our plan: break the cycle and get off the medicine. She had said ideally I'd go six months without symptoms and know it was time to start weaning.
What is migraine preventive medication?
I highly recommend that you read Heal Your Headache by David Buchholz, M.D. to gain a better understanding on the medication available, but I'll give you the gist. It's a medication taken daily with the hopes of stopping migraines before they start. There are several different kinds: tricyclic antidepressants, calcium-channel blockers, beta blockers, SSRIs, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and corticosteroids. I went with the first option because it was the one I was most comfortable with. [Note: I do not share the exact medication/dosage because we are all different when it comes to how our bodies react to medication]
Why do I want to wean off the migraine medication?
In my opinion the medication only helped me go from 90% to 100% (most days) because my holistic game was so strong. As I talk about in my 3-year update video, I have to keep up with my migraine diet (vegan by choice), supplements and holistic wellness routine. The medication is just a piece of the puzzle, but I'll always put out there the reminder that it wasn't the thing that got me to 90%.
It was the hammer that smashed my window.
I want to wean off the medication because I feel like I'm at a place in my life where I'm ready. I've spent the last fifteen months on it and I've only had three more intense attacks, all of which I pulled myself through within the day. That fact has been incredibly empowering. The attacks did not take over my week. They were a pronounced reminder of how much power I have in taking ownership of my wellness and my life.
Want the honest truth, though? I want to prove to myself that I can do this holistically. I deeply believe that we are meant to thrive in this life. Our bodies are meant to heal and we are meant to feel that deep bliss that radiates from the soul.
Also, I don't know the consequences of being on the medication long-term, because while I'm thankful for the balance the medicine has assisted with, what if it's hurting my body in other ways? I think about that stuff.
My action plan:
I'm taking it slow. Slower than you think. I'm not looking to shock my body. My mission is a blissful gradual reduction if that exists.
I've already been stepping up my holistic wellness game with essential oils, plant powered supplements, meditation, Epsom salt baths, walks, and embracing all the happiness in this life. Uncovering my bliss, which is all part of the journey. Here's the breakdown of what my holistic routine looks like if that interests you. It's an area I'm super passionate about and the reason I'm back studying holistic nutrition.
My Wellness Routine // supplements + food
My Essential Oils Daily Routine
What I Do When Symptoms Heighten // Oils Routine
My Vegan Migraine Diet
Keep in mind, I'm not perfect! I don't always follow the diet, I love [vegan] desserts and Four Sigmatic Coffee. I'm human. It's a learning process. I also change up my oils routine as I see fit, but I share a lot of that over on Instagram. I'm vestibular_warrior if you want to connect!
I'm also working with a functional neurologist. I did the Dutch kit and learned a bit more about my body and my hormone/cortisol levels. I've always been interested in exploring this avenue given that everything hit three months postpartum. I'm currently taking natural supplements from him and hoping that further helps me get off the migraine medicine.
How long will it take to get off migraine medication?
Hey Universe, are you listening? I need your guidance on this one...
My point is that I have no idea. I will be listening to my body completely and going with the flow. Six months to a year would be my guess at this point, and probably closer to the year if I'm being realistic. It took me 4 months to get to the dosage I'm at, so I would anticipate doubling that time to come off of it. I'm still waiting to get in with a neurologist to hopefully provide some guidance. Thus far, the internet and talking with other vestibular warriors has been my main supporter, but then again, that's been the case for so much of this vestibular stuff.
I also will be providing updates here throughout the process. That way I'll remember all the little details and we can root for one another as we uncover our bliss.
I worked from home one day recently and had the opportunity to spend the day with my three-year-old and it was so much fun. I rarely get any alone time with him and taking a walk with him on lunch and listening to all he had to say just lit my heart up with so much love. He was a newborn when all the vestibular stuff hit and his life is essentially a timeline for my healing. I starred into his eyes as my world felt like it was crumbling in the early days with the vestibular stuff and look into them now so grateful for where I am, and where I'm going.
Thank you for visiting Bliss Out. If you think someone else could benefit from this post, please share. I want all the good vibes going around.