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I am Wharton I'm Lean & I'm Keen

As yet untitled.

Hello, dear reader.

Wow, the last time I wrote in my diary in the sky was in February this year. And we SO MUCH to catch up on.

If you've never read my blog before - head here to read what life was like only back in November 2014.

In February I was in the middle of one of the most tumultuous periods of my life so far. I won't go into the details but 5 months of something before Christmas (subsequently ruining it) really tested my health and my sanity on countless occasions. On top of that, buying a house and planning a wedding, with a chronic illness, really pushed me to my limits. Chronic illness in my case gets worse when you can't sleep because of stress - stress doesn't trigger a migraine but it will affect you physically (insomnia in my case) ...and you know what?

I am glad.

I am not glad for what happened - noooo, that was heinous - but I am glad for what came out of it. Strength of mind, self-belief, responsibility for my own outlook, infinite positivity and a renewed faith in the good (and bad, sadly) of others.

It's been a fair old journey this migraine stuff and for a while I let it define me, negatively, it controlled me, how I felt, and the limits I imposed on myself. Some lifestyle changes and well, it's still here (and I'm still on yet another NHS waiting list). I've finally found a way to make chronic migraine work for me.

These days I am Kim, I am me, but improved. Upversioned. Kim, the entrepreneur. Kim, the magazine editor. Kim, the music journalist. Kim, the PR and social media fanatic.

And I can see the effects of my renewed happiness reflected around me daily. I am warmer, I am patient, I feel fun again as I've seeped back into a social life, after almost 2 years of battling chronic migraine - in my case several migraines a week. I make new friends at the drop of a hat instead of subconsciously pushing anyone in my social periphery away.

It's nothing like my previous social life - but it's mine and I'm in control. And control is huge for chronically ill people. Our conditions pop up at the most unsociable of times (like today, just before a gig soundcheck and a client meet) so having some ownership of our lives is a big deal. I carry medicine and injections everywhere I go but really try to not use them - some not-so-hot side effects going on there.

I'm not embarrassed by chronic migraine anymore and that, I really believe, helps others understand and accept it -  whether its down to body language, or the positivity when I shake it off, I don't know. I still hate asking people to move when smoking, or to not wear perfume (like to my wedding), but it's just stuff I've learned to live with. I can't get angry with people for doing things when they live their life.

I do know when to go home (apart from a slight getting-stranded-at-1am-in-suburbia-with-a-dead-phone on Friday night), I know when to say 'no' and turn down an invite, I know it's okay to cancel because this situation isn't my fault, I know when I need to take an evening away from the laptop (I work long hours and yes I LOVE my job so much is doesn't feel like one, and I refuse to reduce my workload). I know it's okay to work in my pyjamas almost all of the time, and have a lie-in (thanks, music industry!), and I know I need more than one proper day off a month *slaps own wrist* I do little things like squeeze meetings into one part of the week, I can actually bore you with this another time!

I am happy not leaving the house for a few days so I can conserve my energy for running my business, I am happy in my own company. I encourage positive stress but don't worry about my health, because that will only worsen a migraine - instead I work through it in my dark grey office (my office is designed around my chronic migraine) and use that bloody-mindedness to carry on.

There is no cure for chronic migraine and only one licensed treatment (botox), so it's here to stay. I may as well learn to live with it in as much harmony as possible because fighting it is a waste of both my energy and my mood.

We are in control of our own mental energy and it's this (and my fab chap Mark) that's helped me revolutionise my 2015. And where does this leave me?

I'm still trying to work out a use for this blog, apart from migraine awareness. 'Prelovedreloved' has no relevance to what it has become (originally a fundraising challenge site that evolved to raise migraine awareness and host my rants. And now what?

I have no idea.

Maybe for now I'll share some past stories to tie in with the USA's Migraine Awareness Month to support the friends I've made across the pond.

And maybe an online diary would be a good resource for anyone wanting to shoe themselves into the music industry, self-employment and entrepreneurship, especially if they're disabled like me. And for pictures of guinea pigs. But then what? It seems a shame for the site to die, and I need something to do apart from 15-hour days in music!

Whatever happens, you can find me here on Instagram and here on Twitter.

I'd love your opinion!
Much love, Kim x

Social stigma: fake handbags and migraine Social stigma: fake handbags and migraine

Social stigma: fake handbags, sluts and migraine

Social stigma is everywhere. Who can afford what, who looks like what, what your job is, people who work or are unemployed, whether you went to University or not (or which). We like to judge.

My Mum was talking at the weekend, about someone she knew who has a thing for fake handbags. Now, a brand names comes as a mark of quality not a label to be faked.

You can look at this one of two ways: there are those who want to be seen as possessing something expensive and desirable. But I see them as people who lack in self-confidence, and by assuming they are judged by others, they are in fact judging themselves the most.

Why are they disapproving of themselves, what makes them not feel valuable enough, that they don't have enough prestige and that a fake watch will make it all better?

Social stigma: fake handbags and migraine

And what kind of magic watch fixes that!? Of course, if questioned they will just tell you that they like the design.

What does this say about their personality? Does it highlight a certain vulnerability, a need to fit in and cave to 'social pressure' that doesn't actually exist, to inflate themselves to be what they wish they could be?  And of course I'm judging because I'm writing about being judged.

I wear brand names, sure, but you can never tell, they're not emblazed everywhere. They're in the labels of my shoes, the tags in my clothes (even the scratchy ones), for me to know I have purchased goods of quality, made from beautiful fabrics and that they're going to last me a while.

It exists not just through brands, but through style, a key part of our personal expression. You can  be assumed slutty, a complete square, a stoner or on the other hand, cooler than Sweet Brown's  cold pop.

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Social stigma exists around health too, sadly. Certain illnesses are assumed to be suffered by the poor, certain ethnicities or those who are a bit shower-shy. We migraineurs suffer stigma too, a whole lot of it.

First of all, a migraine is not a headache. Did you know some kinds of migraine exist without head pain at all? That's assumption numero uno.

Ware misunderstood in plenty of other ways too: we're fussy, we are awkward, and of course we put up with our symptoms without helping ourselves.

It's a joke, a completely blasé condition, not a serious one (let me tell you I know of several suicides due to chronic migraine) - suicide has a whole stigma of its own.

Social stigma: fake handbags and migraine

Photo credit: Al Shep

Migraine - and suicide, mental disorders - for people who 'just need to get over it', or 'overthink'. For the record, migraine is not a mental disorder but it's a serious neurological condition, it's just how the sentence worked out.

Employers don't understand migraine, or want to understand it. Colleagues don't understand how serious it is or how things they consider trivial can trigger a spiral that could see me in hospital - and has.

And we're weak, hormonal women - migraines are mostly suffered by women but 1 in 10 sufferers are male. And they experience a whole new level of stigma as migraine is seen as a feminine condition. Add that to , 'it's not an important illness' - oh yes, I've had it all.

If someone has cancer you don't really say 'have you tried this?' but somehow people feel free reign to tell every migraineur they ever meet about migraine smoothies and the rest. When I mention I have botox I always feel the need to say 'medical botox' so I am not judged for having cosmetic procedures, or the fact that I need them.

And then the 'have you tried xyz?' continues - from people who have never had them!

No, I have just suffered unnecessarily for the past 2 years, never thought about seeing 4 doctors about it. 

Nobody ever said that to me when I had a broken foot, the flu or a tropical disease!

In 'Thinking Aloud, Social Stigma and Migraine', Laurie Taylor discusses how migraine became a 'womens' illness' and the historical journey of stigma.

Listen to 'Thinking Aloud, Social Stigma and Migraine' from the BBC today - migraine is mentioned from about 14 minutes by clicking here.

A photo a day for migraine awareness: Day 6


2015 London Marathon - The Migraine Trust

I'm running the 2015 London Marathon on The  Migraine Trust's charity team to raise much-needed funds for research fellows to try find a cure for migraine.  Please consider sponsoring me here


Yay Saturday. Today I went to a charity meeting. I'm on the User Board for The Migraine Trust and we meet a few times a year for updates, brainstorming fundraising, website and promotional activity (poster design, PR) as well as discussing treatment news, media updates and of course a bit of science.

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But before that: breakfast. I love going out for breakfast and Mark treated me to a yummy one at The Delaunay as we had an early start. If you ever go, you must get the Omelette Arnold Bennett. It was a godly experience although not very waist-friendly with smoked haddock, bechamel and parmesan. But omg!

Then I headed to Russell Square for my meeting - ironically the charity's office is across the road from my neurologist! I really enjoy these sessions as not only am I giving back to the charity that'd given me so much support, understanding and confidence about my chronic migraine, but I also take so much away. And, of course it's amazing to meet others (about 8 of us today) in similar situations to myself. Today we also had a presentation from one of their funded research fellows (the charity's main aim is to fund research), and she's launched the UK's first dedicated headache (and migraine) research centre at King's College. Isn't it hard to believe that there wasn't one until very recently?!

If you want to support them or find out more please head to www.migrainetrust.org. The have a few charity places for the London Marathon so do share!

After that I headed to meet Mark for a freemasonry Christmas lunch, before I migraine hit (I think it was caused by staring at a projector without my sunglasses on). My triptan cocktail (frovatriptan, naproxen and domperidone... I take these at migraine-onset and they usually stop or dampen them. I save them for work usually as am only allowed 12 a month) didn't work so we had to cut our meal/afternoon short but at least I got out of the house: a terrible thing to think aged 32 but I spend a lot of time at home recovering from a week at work!

Thankfully Mark had driven us to London so we didn't have to wade through tubes and trains and buses to get home. As soon as we were in the door I put my pjs back on and promptly fell asleep on the sofa! I felt much more human when I woke up and am now just a bit postdromey (post-attack migraine hangover/fatigue) but I live in an almost-perpetual state of that so it's business as usual! Tomorrow will involve a bit of work and a lot of slobbing about, hope your Saturday was awesome!

Kim x

A photo a day in December for migraine awareness: Day 5

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A bit of migraine trivia today. This is a mixture of red wine tasting for our wedding and chocolates as an early Christmas pressie from my brother. Red wine and chocolate are known generally for causing migraine. Well, they do for some people but then so does office lighting, perfume, alcohol, smoke, gluten, caffeine, aspartame, temperature and air pressure changes, rain, cold and plenty of other stuff. We're all different but almost everyone I meet that I end up explaining my condition to is shocked at me drinking wine or eating cheese. Not true, folks. Plenty of us have no food triggers. Some people have no triggers at all, you could argue that 'life' is a trigger (I do!) Just another 'fact' that people assume about migraine. Ask yourself how much of the stigma and social assumptions are true.