Q&A | Picking Your Brain Responses

I haven’t done a PYB post in a very long time, but I’ve kept track of your questions. If you don’t see your question over the next couple of weeks, please please don’t hesitate to resubmit it.

[Q]Mandy asks:”Hi Jen, long time reader here. I know you’re a chronic migraine sufferer like me and believe you hate taking medication???? I’m reaching my limit with these meds so I just wanted to know how do you deal with your migraines? When did they start? How often do you get them? Has law school made them worse? What are your pet peeves? I hate them. Please don’t gloss over my questions… I’d really love to hear your personal experience/battle… I hope that’s okay?”

I’m not a fan of meds::
Hi Mandy, you’re correct. I hate taking medication for my migraines. I’m tired of being poked and prodded and scanned and tested and evaluated. I currently refuse to be on any new prescriptions after I had a bad reaction to off-label prescriptions. “Off-brand prescriptions” are when doctors prescribe medications to treat a condition that is not the intended purpose of the drug. For example, I’ve been prescribed anti-seizure meds that when taken by migraine sufferers who do not have seizures, it decreases migraines. *Note: off-label prescriptions are legal and authorized by the FDA. After striking out with the migraine prescriptions, my neurologist tried off-labels meds. My body wasn’t having it.

When my migraines started & they’re frequency::
I started getting migraines my junior year of college in 2008. I even remember exactly where I was and what happened when I got my first migraine. Since then, the frequency of headaches has increased and law school definitely made them worse. Stress is one of my triggers and law school was a breeding ground for stress. Now I get headaches 3-4 days a week. 50% of the time they’re migraines (left hemisphere) and 50% of the time they’re tension headaches.

How I deal::
[1] I’m light sensitive when I have a migraine so I lay down in a dark room when a headache hits. I have blackout curtains in all windows of my apartment so I’m able to turn my home into a cave, which helps immensely. Prior to purchasing black out curtains I’d lay down in my bathtub. It’s not the most comfortable spot but it’s perfect as a cold dark space.

[2] Soak my feet in hot water. The hot water causes the blood to rush away from my head to my feet, alleviating the migraine.

[3] Press points. Between the eye brows, the space between thumb and index are two areas that help me the most.

[4] Shoulder and spine massages.  This helps a lot with my tension headaches.

[5] Excedrin.

[6] When it’s really bad (severe pain lasting more than 48 hours) I cave and to the ER.

As for how I deal and keep going through the day: when laying down I still try to keep studying and working from my phone. My phone has the option to invert the colors of the screen (to do this on an iPhone go to your accessibility settings. You can activate the option to quickly switch to inverted colors when clicking the home button 3 times). Inverting the colors darkens everything in my phone and makes it easier to look at my phone when my light sensitivity is in full swing.

I try to prevent headaches as much as possible by 1) staying hydrated; 2) carry snacks wig me wherever I go because hunger is one of my triggers; 3) avoid strong tomato sauce, another trigger; 4) warn people not to startle me if sleeping, that’s a trigger too.

There are days when I’m like “okay, another migraine, what else is new, life goes on.” On those days I suck it up and continue working, continue studying, continue living. Then there are those days when I really can’t deal and the pain wins. Those days are frustrating and flat out make me angry sometimes.

My pet peeves::
Hmmm, pet peeves… I guess my biggest one is when someone knows I’m hurting yet they still try to talk to me, or except me to act as if I’m running on 100%. No I can’t move as fast, no I can’t respond, no I can’t be all smiles and sunshine, so please do not begrudge me for it.

I also really dislike when people pity me. Sympathy and concern are greatly appreciated but I don’t like when people learn of the extent of my migraines and pity me for it. Yes my headaches suck quite a bit and can kick rocks for all I care but that’s my cross to bear.

It can be a little annoying when people complain and groan incessantly about normal headaches and act like the world is coming to an end when they feel the slightest ache. I can’t help but think “Sir. Ma’am. Really?! Pop an Advil and keep it moving.” I realize that’s really bratty because every one’s pain threshold is different. What they’re feeling could very well be the end of the world. Who am I to judge?

[Q]Sade asks:  “Hi Jen……good luck in ur exams. I have recently come across shea butter, can it be used on relaxed hair as a moisturizer and if so, do you seal with a oil?”

Hi Sade, thank you for the well wishes. Shea butter can be used on relaxed hair but I caution against using it as a moisturizer because it does not contain water. I’d use shea butter as a sealant after using a water based moisturizer.

[Q]Nicole asks: “Hi Jen!, when you were texlaxed how did you deal with split/frayed ends? I just got my hair pressed and I slept and the scarf came off and my ends look a bit frayed, which is frustrating because I got my split ends cut yesterday.”

Hi Nicole, I use ceramides very often and I’ve found that they help prevent split ends. When I do find spilt ends I simply snip them off.

[Q]Pam asks: “Even if I put my hair in a pony tail during workout…that doesn’t stop sweat from covering my scalp and hair close to the scalp. I relax so how to combat sweat and what to do to re-straighten that hair close to the scalp hair after the workout?”

Hi Pam, you can try straightening your roots using the tension method + cold air. Alternatively you can also wrap your hair using the traditional method (around your head), wrap your hair tightly with Saran Wrap and sit under a hooded dryer for 15 minutes.

[Q]Dorothy asks: “Hello I love how your curls came out when you used the curlformers. Will you ever have a how to on YouTube? I would love to see how you get them so perfect. Thanks for the wonderful information you give about hair care. It has helped me tons!”

Thanks Dorothy! I’m beyond overdo for a video but it will be done.

[Q]A reader asks: “Hey Jen, while transitioning, how often do you trim your hair?”

Honestly, I lost track while I transitioned. I would randomly snip off relaxed ends on wash days. Any unevenness I had while transitioning didn’t bother me because I didn’t wear my hair down.

[Q]A reader asks: “Where did you purchase your silk hair scarves from?”

eBay and New York & Co.

[Q]Vanessa asks: “Hello Jen, I’m having issues with my edges that i think is due mainly because of the brush I use on them. What brush do you use on your edges, the type, is the bristle soft or hard and what kind of bristle is it? Thanks”

Hi Vanessa, I use a soft bristle (synthetic bristles) brush by Conair. The softness of the bristles does matter but I’ve found that the technique you use when brushing is equally important. For example, when I used to simply run the brush over my edges it caused breakage. However when I switched to gently using the brush to stretch my hair and distribute whatever gel I was using and then using a silk scarf to do the rest of the work, my edges didn’t suffer. Hope that explanation made sense.


Thank you for your questions!

Have a PYB question? Submit it here: PYB submission form.


  1. I love that you've never used those painful migraines as an excuse to stop law school. Kudos!

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