"Migraine" is a pretty broad and open-for-interpretation term. It's clear that migraine sufferers suffer in different ways. And we each have different things we do to try and minimize the pain and deal with the overall disruption of life. This is a quick summary of my typical experience.
Onset / Frequency When I get a migraine I typically wake up with it. About 20% of the time I can feel it coming on in the evening - a few hours before bed. Rarely does one start sometime in the middle of the day. Very rarely I'll get some sort of aura. It usually presents itself as not being able to see entire words on a computer screen. It's as if someone cut out letters periodically.
I get headaches quite frequently - maybe every other day. But ones that rise to the "migraine" category less frequently....approximately once a week over a long period of time. They come in waves. I might go a few weeks feeling great then get a string of them.
What It Feels Like Typically my whole head hurts. I don't normally get pain on one side or the other - although occasionally that happens. Describing the overall "my body is messed up." feeling to others has been and remains one of my larger frustrations. Most people associate "migraine" with "head pain". Obviously head pain is a part of it, but it goes beyond that. It's very difficult to put into words. Basically:
Some level of upset stomach (actually getting sick is a very rare occurrence)
A slowed mental capacity
An inability to know what I want. I'll sometimes literally be sitting down and not be able to come up with any idea on what might make me feel better. Absolutely nothing seems helpful at that point. (Usually when I'm in that state I'll lie down and I'm able to sleep.)
Occasionally muscle sorness / skin sensitivity.
Food. I have to put a lot of effort (migraines or not) into not overeating. I love food. When I have a migraine I give myself more of a pass in this area. If my stomach isn't feeling great eating tends to help. I try to keep it healthy: eggs, nuts, etc. And it's obvious this project will help determine what is "healthy" from a migraine trigger perspective.
Sleep. When I take a nap I tend to feel a bit better when I wake up.
Acupuncture. Only once have I had it done while I actually had a headache. I walked in with a 4/10 headache and walked out with a 0/10. I felt great. I try to have it done on a "maintenance' basis, approximately monthly. But it's really hard to remember to do that when you're feeling well.
OTC Meds. If the headache isn't too severe I try to use over-the-counter meds first. My go-to OTC med....the one I'm sure I've relied on too much....is Excedrin. I love coffee, and I love the caffeine buzz, so as a result I tend to have a very up-stimulated system from caffeine. Excedrin's effectiveness has diminished for me. I'm virtually sure it's due to all the coffee I drink.
Prescription Meds. I currently am using Sumitriptan (generic Immitrex). I take it when I have a headache that is moderate-to-severe. It usually helps with the head pain specifically, but per the above comments regarding what migraine feels like to me, it doesn't come close to making me feel "normal.
Caffeine. Caffeine is both the help and bane of headache sufferers. It helps relieve headaches. But too much use over a long period of time desensitizes our system to it's effect. Overall we have to minimize it's use so our bodies will react to it when we want it to.
Recovery The clinical term is "postdrome". That is REALLY clinical. And it's totally inadequate to describe what it feels like. I use the term "Headache Hangover" to describe this stage. In a nutshell I feel washed out, "mentally tired" if you will. It feels somewhat similar to how one feels after a fever breaks: You know you've been through a significant ordeal and you need to rest and recover. One article I read essentially said "Your brain has been through a traumatic event. It needs to heal and repair and recover." I equate it to the day after doing a lot of exercise: You can move. You can walk around and physically do things. You look normal. But every move your muscles ache, and you're reminded that the previous day you put your body through a lot. For postrdrom, apply that same concept....but to the brain.