Meet Atlanta resident, Algem Hopkinson, a winner of the Rewrite Your Day contest, which is awarding 15 people living with chronic migraine the chance to work with celebrity event planner Mindy Weiss to re-create a special moment lost to the condition.
I started experiencing migraines when I was 13 years old, but I wasn’t officially diagnosed with chronic migraine until the age of 24. Chronic migraine is a neurological condition that causes someone to experience headaches 15 or more days each month, with headache lasting four hours or longer, but for me, they had become a daily occurrence by the time I entered the Community Counseling graduate program at Auburn University in 2007. Being a graduate student is difficult for anyone, but it is even harder for someone living with chronic migraine. My migraines are often brought on by stress, noise and bright lights (like those in a classroom setting), all triggers that I often could not avoid as I was pursuing my degree. Fortunately, some of my professors and colleagues were compassionate about my condition and even allowed us to hold class in the dark when necessary so that I could pay better attention. I worked very hard to complete my studies, but I couldn’t truly celebrate my accomplishment the way I envisioned. I woke up on graduation day with the all too familiar feeling of a debilitating migraine coming on. I pushed myself to attend the graduation, but I was unable to concentrate and could barely walk across the stage when they called my name. The pain in my head was so severe that I had to leave the building as soon as I received my diploma, missing the remainder of the ceremony. My graduation party that afternoon was also cut short, because I was simply in too much pain from the migraine. Instead, I spent one of the most important days of my life confined to a dark bedroom with an icepack on my head.
For years, I assumed that my condition was genetic, and I didn’t think anyone could help with my chronic migraine. I have now learned how to better manage my condition and want people with chronic migraine to know that there is help available. They should see a headache specialist who can help them find treatment options that may be right for them.
In life, sometimes we hope for a "do-over," and I am so thankful that I was given the chance to do that with the help of celebrity event planner Mindy Weiss and the Rewrite Your Day campaign. Although I will never get to repeat my actual graduation day, Mindy helped to re-create my graduation party, an experience that I will never forget. I wore my hat and gown for photos with my former classmates and family, and most importantly, celebrated my degree the way I had first planned to do with the people who mean the most to me. This was an amazing opportunity for me to re-create a lost moment due to chronic migraine and to really enjoy my special day as an accomplished graduate.
To learn more about the campaign or to find a headache specialist in your area, visit www.RewriteYourDay.com. For more information on chronic migraine, click here.