Why do I have migraine headaches, dark circles under eyes and hairfall?

Published by Shruti on

Despite being free of diseases, I couldn’t understand why I had developed persistent health issues like migraine headaches, dark circles under my eyes and hair fall. We cooked fresh food regularly at home, shopped at the leading health stores and bought organic foods. When we went out, we ate at nice restaurants and avoided oily foods. During my annual health checkups, all my tests were normal and the doctors said I was healthy. Yet, there were these health issues that refused to go away. Something was not right and I couldn’t understand what it was.

Let me start by sharing a little more about my life. I lived in San Francisco, professional woman in my mid 30s and led a fast paced life. I had been working as a Product Manager for large tech companies and high growth startups in Silicon Valley for many years. It had been go, go, go in a highly competitive environment in technology companies. My lifestyle, similar to many Bay Area workers, revolved around work.  Breakfast usually skipped. Light lunches eaten at the desk while working. Long hours at work. Mostly spent on a desk indoors in an air conditioned office. Drinking at happy hours after work. Long drives/ commute to the office. Heavy dinner at night. Not much exercise on a typical day. Lot of stress managed by 2-3 cups of coffee. 

The work itself needed constant availability on the phone and computer screen. A barrage of emails, meetings, video conferences and Slack messages would stream in through the whole day starting morning through late nights. Most of the time in my day was spent looking at a screen; from the first thing I looked at in the morning to the last at night. I was fighting fires and dodging political minefields in the corporate jungle. 

The past year had been the worst; I had been working at a startup going through layoffs. I was feeling stressed and unhappy; it had begun to show quite clearly in my body. There were migraine headaches every day. Regular acid reflux. Dark circles under my eyes. Dull skin. My hair had begun to turn grey while my hairline had been receding for years. I’d been aware of hormonal imbalances for a while. I was losing hair on my head and growing hair on my chin. I was lethargic when I woke up in the morning. When I would spend time outside in the sun, my eyes would start watering and then get swollen like balloons the next morning. There was bad breath during the day. Stinky poop. 

When I looked at myself in the mirror, I was sorry to see the unhealthy, dull person staring back at me. 

Unanswered questions about my health

While I was starting to notice these issues in my body, I was quite unaware of how to fix them or what was causing them. I had seen medical doctors a few times over the past years about some of my issues like the hormonal imbalances and headaches. But they could never satisfactorily explain why these things were happening. I’d heard a few things over and over again:.

Stress less. 

I did feel stressed but  didn’t know what I should do differently. What was it about my day that was creating stress? Was it internal or external?

Take birth control pills to normalize your hormones

I’d done some research on these pills a while ago and had decided that the side effects outweigh their benefits for me. So I never ended up taking the pills. 

Take painkillers every time you get a migraine headache. 

There were days when I was desperate and tried over the counter painkillers but they didn’t help. I also never felt comfortable taking pills regularly. Growing up, it was not the norm in our family. My father gave us homeopathic medicines from time to time but that was about it. Taking painkillers could numb the pain but would not address the underlying causes. 

But unfortunately, no one was answering the ‘why’ behind the symptoms

  • Why am I getting migraine headaches every day
  • Why am I growing hair on my chin while losing hair on my head?
  • Why are my hormones out of balance? 
  • Why do I have dark circles under my eyes and swollen eye lids?

I came up with one of two theories to cope.  One, these issues are simply erratic and would pass on their own. Two, I am aging and this is just ‘normal’ for someone in their mid 30s. But the issues never passed and I couldn’t accept that this state of my health was normal. So, neither coping mechanism was helping.

My body had been giving me signals that things are not okay but I had persistently ignored them, or didn’t know how to read them. The message was getting lost in translation. 

An opportunity to take a break from full time work

After months of uncertainty at the startup, when my entire team got laid off at work, I was mentally and physically exhausted. Layoffs are supposed to feel bad but I’d been so exhausted that all I felt was relief. I remember the feeling washed over me like soft waves in the ocean. I had been underwater but I could finally pop my head back up and take a long breath. It was clear to me that whatever I had been doing to my body all these years was not working. 

It was  time to change and life had somehow wiggled enough room to give me this opportunity. Fortunately, my husband was still employed. We had enough money saved and my visa status could be managed; so I didn’t need to rush back into another full time job. I could take some time to figure out what was next. 

I’d been feeling unwell and getting laid off was the pivotal moment to start taking my health seriously. I subsequently decided to take a break at the end of 2018 from a full time corporate career in the technology industry. I had taken time off before between jobs but my state of mind was not the same this time. In the past, I had learnt new skills like art, surfing and wood work. I had traveled solo, with my husband or friends to new countries. But this time was different; I had never felt as unhealthy as I did now. I felt ready to make room in my life to pay attention and start speaking the language of my body.

It was time to start looking for answers. 

About the same time that I was going through these transitions, my mother in India had been seeking treatment for arthritis. It was thanks to her that I had my first meaningful encounter with Ayurveda. More on that in the next post. See you there!

Before we head over, there is a question I would like to ask you.

Are there persistent health issues that you or your loved ones have been going through? Answers you’ve been looking for that go behind the ‘why’ of the symptoms?

Please take a moment to share them with me in the comments section. I would love to hear about your health journey so that we can discuss our issues and help each other.

1 Comment

Aishwarya · August 1, 2019 at 6:30 am

Hi Shruti, thanks for sharing your personal experience. Being a software developer again in the mid 30s, a lot of your experiences resonate with me. I like how you mentioned that we are unable to differentiate between the aging process and signs our body is giving us about trouble. Ofcourse how would we know, cos we have never been this old before 🙂 . I appreciate your candor and honesty, and hope this helps others reach out to you to better their lifestyles.

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