When I was 9 years old, I was playing tag with my friends one early evening and the world started spinning. Everything was a bit in slow motion, like I was experiencing life with a 0.5 second delay, and I simply felt dizzy and out of it. Unfortunately, this altered-state lasted a few months. A barrage of tests including full CAT Scan, countless doctors, therapists, etc., and there was only the elimination of potential causes and no real diagnosis. They said it was likely caused by my “inner ear” and we had to wait. It was rough, and I remember not being able to clearly articulate my symptoms, and during this period getting pretty anxious and depressed. The good news is that it finally went away, and as kids do, I just rebounded, moved forward and forgot about it.
Flash forward just over 10 years. I was 20 years old and in my 3rd year of college. Like a bolt from nowhere, I became dizzy, anxious, and ‘out-of-it’. Now this was a stressful time in my life for many reasons, but I remembered the symptoms from when I was 10, and they were exactly the same. I felt terrible, and with the awareness of how difficult it was to function as a 20 year-old in college feeling that dizzy, I became very anxious and depressed. I followed the same line of protocol this time around, and the diagnosis was the same. However, given how much stress I was under, this time I went down a path that focused on dealing effectively with anxiety and less about my inner ear. I saw a psychologies, worked through a large number of things to calm my nerves, study better, cope better with difficulties in my past, and I made great progress as a person. Somewhere about 4-5 months after the symptoms started they stopped, and I moved on.
Flash forward, quite a bit, to a guy in his 40’s. One night I went to bed feeling great, but woke up the next day feeling incredibly dizzy, some vertigo, and definitely out of it. Yes, it felt exactly as it did when I was 10 and 20. Definitely strange, and a bit unnerving, although it helped to have gone through it before, so the feelings weren’t completely alien to me. After about 2 weeks of being dizzy all of the time, the anxiety kicked in. You’d be surprised how unnerving it is to be dizzy all of the time. I saw my primary physician, and he said it was probably an inner ear infection. So, this time I decided to do some internet research, since this capability wasn’t there when I was 10 or 20. I found a tremendous amount of content on what are called “Vestibular Migraines”, and the symptoms caught my attention immediately. You see, I’ve had migraines since I was about 25, with the aura, intense pain, etc., (4-8 hours in length) and I get them 2 or 3 times per year. During and after my migraines I am sensitive to light and sound, and the back of my head (occipital lobe) is pretty sore. When I woke up with the dizziness and vertigo, I felt the same soreness and sensitivity to light and sound. I also remember these symptoms when I was 10 and 20, but they were never the focus of any of my doctors. The thing that really grabbed my attention when reading about Vestibular Migraines was a) the fact that they aren’t typically accompanied by the actual headache (aka there’s no real migraine by traditional standards), b) they trigger vertigo, dizziness, anxiety and depression, c) they can last days, weeks, months or years. I will also note that many of the articles said they were one of the most miss-diagnosed illnesses on record.
I followed the advice from some of these sites, managed my condition like I was managing a vestibular migraine, and just over the two week mark, the dizziness, vertigo, light/sound sensitivity, and soreness dissipated. I’ve felt great ever since. Am I 100% sure it was a vestibular migraine, no, because I’m not that type of doctor. However, I’m 99% sure that it was a vestibular migraine when I was 10, 20 and 40 somthing. I wish I could go back in time and tell myself as I was 9 turning 10 what was really going on, or when I was 20 that everything was going to be OK.
Not sure if any of my readers have dealt with this as well, but as someone who does all I can for health, wellness and to live a productive, happy life, I wanted to write this post for anyone who has ever dealt with these symptoms, and may be subject to vestibular migraines. The triggers are nothing out of the ordinary for a human being, and not any different from normal migraines: changes in sleep pattern, stress, caffeine, diet, etc., and if you’ve ever had a typical migraine, the odds of you having a vestibular migraine at some point are much higher.
Take care of yourselves.
Small steps add up!!!