My First Migraine (and How I Failed the State Writing Test)

My migraine story starts in middle school. I was waiting outside with my friends for school to start, and we were standing around and talking when I noticed green and yellow lines and dots in my field of vision.

I rubbed my eyes, but the colorful hazes were still there. I told my 8th grade friends I was seeing spots.

They laughed and asked me if I was on drugs.

By the time I made it to my seat in the classroom, the migraine was setting in. It gripped the left side of my head and spearheaded into the back of my eyeball. I was nauseous and sweating. I shifted uncomfortably in my seat.

But today we weren’t just doing a normal algebra lesson. It was a state assessment testing day, and a lot was riding on the line. Any student who scored higher than a 3 (on a scale of 1-4) would get to go on a trip to Six Flags in Houston. AND this was the writing test. This was my bread and butter test. This was my championship moment.

I tried to manage through the first part of the test, but even bubbling in my answers was hard because the pain was so great that it blurred my vision. I had to focus and I worried at any moment my head was going to explode. I had never had this feeling before.

When I couldn’t take the pain anymore, I told the test proctor and a principal was called over to make sure I wasn’t trying to fake my way out of the test. I was pale and leaning against the cold lockers. The cold felt good against my temples. It was clear that I was in severe pain.

I didn’t know that those green and yellow dots were an aura and should have notified me that a migraine was coming. I didn’t know that such severe pain could cause such a range of symptoms.

Recently, my neurologist has told me that first migraine was probably triggered by stress of scoring high on that writing test. Today, stress is still a migraine trigger for me.

I had migraines every now and then throughout high school, but after my first year of college, my migraines returned— fiercer than I had ever imagined.

What was your first migraine experience?