Living with Vestibular Migraines — starting with research 

I’m in Wales visiting the parents. I’m aiming to reduce stress and the only stess here is a dog, a German Shepherd named Jacob. And a cat. And I had quite a shock on Tuesday night when I found (what I suspect to be) a False Widow by the bathroom door. It got flushed once I’d mustered the courage. I would’ve squashed it but it was all backside and angry looking and I didn’t fancy cleaning up spider squirt. I also would’ve let it live, if it died in the sewer, had outside not been downstairs and the container not some bit of potpourri shaped like a bowl and a sheet of paper. Too flimsy for such a journey! That night all I could hear was this scrapping and click-clacking on the floorboards — something jumped on my bed! I feared it was the spider dripping wet, beady eyes up in mine — COME ON THEN!!!! — but it was Jacob.

Anyway, on Monday I decided to catch a train to Neath — 4 hours on a sweatbox with a change at Newport. Apparently First Great Western and Aviva can’t afford to fix their air-con. Tough times.

The journey was alright — I watched Under the Dome — and so was the first night. I haven’t managed to walk straight since, though. I’m off on a merry jaunt every time I head anywhere remotely uninteresting. I also haven’t felt the nausea that curls me in a ball but I’ve got close. I have felt faint, though; that could’ve been the heat. And I’ve had this strange headache like a hangover or sleep (can’t tell) right behind my eyes. A fuzziness, I’ll call it. My last drop of alcohol was a week ago so I doubt it’s drink.

I’m taking my pills — I’m doing good with them — I just feel rotten. I’m alright but rotten.

Because I have research to do, I’ve done it.

Vestibular Migraines — wha’?

Vestibular means ‘of, pertaining to, or resembling a vestibule‘, and vestibule means ‘a passage or a hall between the front door and interior‘. So the ear-hole, basically.

Migraine means ‘a sudden and severe headache that is usually on one side of the head and accompanied by nausea’. Not wholly accurate, though, because you can get painless migraines, dizzy migraines — migraines I can’t spell — all sorts of different types. Like a pick-n-mix shop of joy.

A Vestibular Migraine is a regular migraine but instead of announcing itself with pain it makes the world spin and wants you to vomit.

Clinically it is, but not limited to:

  • Severe dizziness
  • Vertigo
  • Motion intolerance
  • Diminished eye focus
  • Sensitivity to sound & light
  • Tinnitus
  • Severe nausea & vomiting
  • Loss of control over body movements
  • Neck pain
  • Muscle spasms
  • Confusion & disorientation
  • Anxiety & panic

And this often leads to the inability to perform daily tasks.


  • Food, such as: Onions, chedder, bacon, vinegar, booze, doughnuts, chocolate, nuts, banana, and excessive tea. Apart from the cheddar, you kidding me?!
  • Baromatic-pressure variations, which in Britain is just grand because the weather is always changing!
  • Habit changes, such as: Missing meals, missing sleep, lying in late, long distance travel.
  • Stress, including the relaxation from.

Stress, depression / anxiety, menstruation, menopause, head or neck trauma, are each predisposing factors to migraines. I don’t think have any problems with menstruation.

Food being a trigger is rare and certain cravings can hint that a migraine attack is coming.

Stress and anxiety can often be unavoidable making the management of other triggers important. Dealing with the cause of stress and anxiety can help.

(SIDE NOTE: I think I’ve just found my anagram. I’m not BPPV, I’m VEMP — not positional vertigo, the other one. BDSM… I was close!)

BASH Guidelines

British Association for the Study of Headache — Guidelines for All Healthcare Professionals in the Diagnosis and Management of Migraine, Tension-type, Cluster, and Medication-Overuse Headaches

Catchy title, eh?

It’s an equally gripping read.

A cure is not a realistic aim and patients need to understand this.

Cheerful opening line — it goes on to say that the management of migraines can do wonders.

There are 4 elements to migraine management:

  1. Correct & timely diagnosis
  2. Explanation & reassurance
  3. Trigger identification & avoidance
  4. Drug & non-drug intervention

Because there is no diagnostic test for a headache, the history of the headache is used. The history of a headache can be tracked with a Headache Diary kept over a few weeks, allowing the pattern of attacks to point to the correct diagnosis.

Explaining and reassuring the patient is important because headaches can be distressing and expectation needs to be managed.

Trigger identification and avoidance — diary. Well, the diary helps to identify the trigger(s) so the patient can avoid.

Non-drug intervention is avoiding triggers where possible, and managing stress and anxiety — lifestyle changes maybe needed.

Drug intervention is medication, which should be combined with rest and sleep.

Talking Change

This is a ‘friendly and comforting service’ offered by NHS Solent to support a variety of mental health conditions.

Their main treatments are:

  • Cognative Behavioural Therapy
  • Counselling

They also offer:

  • Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy
  • Acceptance & Commitment Therapy
  • Compassion Focused Therapy
  • Interpersonal Psychotherapy

Their aim is to empower the patient with techniques to manage their mental health.

Once referred to the service (there’s an online form to fill in) there is a 30 minute phone assessment with a therapist, and a further 60 minute face-to-face assessment, if needed.

You then find out if they can help you.


Vestibular Migraines are shit.

I think, considering my mental health issues after my gran and James died, and after being bullied by a supposed manager in a company that proclaims care and compassion, that these migraines have something to do with that. I think the repercussions of all that, how I have reacted, is to blame. In short, had The Southern Co-operative been human when I needed support we may not be here. No migraines. No anger. No unadulterated hatred. Granted, still blaming them is something I need to resolve, but I’m not the only person to be treated badly by these people. I am just one more in a long line — something should really be done. An apology would be nice but that won’t happen.

The anger I have in me is quite something.

I feel comforted knowing that these migraines aren’t wholly unusal.

I would like it to fuck off but that is an unrealistic expectation.

Instead I am to manage and get on top of my stress.

I’ll start with a diary, finally determine my triggers, and I’ll refer myself to Talking Change.

Tomos James

6 thoughts on “Living with Vestibular Migraines — starting with research 

  1. I have VM too and PPPD (postural perceptual dizziness). Just started vestibular rehab for two sessions and monitoring if it’ll help. I cut off all caffeine and alcohol too. Not getting sleep is a trigger for me but at the same time I don’t get a lot of sleep because the vertigo attacks when I lie down! Urgh. I’m on notriptyline 30mg for the VM which also happens to be a tricyclic antidepressant but doesn’t seem to do much, depression wise. Hahaha. Just sharing. I’m so glad I found your blog. I am not aloneeeee. I lost my job and friends too, I’ve been like this for slightly over 3 years now. Big hugs, thanks for writing this post

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bigger hugs to you! I don’t get it lying down so OH MY GOD that would be hell. I really want it to let up for you soon – do the tablets do anything for the VM? What can you do about your sleep? Do you have a position you feel alright in? There’s something, there is – it just needs to be found!

      Keep in touch! You’re not alone 😀


      1. I’ve had such a bad week with the vertigo triggering every night so I’m running on lack of sleep now and my vision is so blurry PLUS the headaches too. Grrrr. Yes the tablets do help like, 50% most of the time but there are still bad days like this week. Vertigo attacks are not as vicious as before so I don’t throw up anymore when they come, I’m able to hold it back (eww). Sitting still is the so-called ‘best’ (yknw what I mean right) position. Yes I don’t believe there’s no cure for vertigo even though they have different types of root causes! (I’ve checked for persistent ear crystals but that’s not the case for me).

        Thank you, it’s nice to have someone to talk too. Hug! xo

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Eye crystals???? 🤑🤑🤑 – you know a number to hire some miners?! Knowing this vertigo though, this dream of riches will be too good to be true!

          I do prefer it when the nausea doesn’t produce but I don’t like the running back and forth to the toilet because I don’t know! Ha ha, oh you’ve got to laugh.

          I suppose 50% working tabs is better than a kick in the teeth, but I totally agree with you — where there’s a will there’s a way! There is something setting it all off. We solve that something, sorted!

          That’s my thought on all this!

          Always here — stay upright!! xx


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