At 31 she is living with the disease suicide

At 31, Diane Wattrelos has already undergone 12 surgeries, trying all the treatments to try to relieve this ailment that is eating away at her: a vascular headache that causes extreme pain but which this Frenchwoman now believes is “a… strength” had .

To tell her story, she has just published a book, Mes problems en couleurs (published by Leduc).

Diane Wattrelos has short hair shaved above her neck due to a recent hospitalization and is recovering by the end of the morning from another night punctuated by seizures.

“When that happens, I feel like a screwdriver has gotten my eye fixed and is turning by itself,” says the slim young woman in the garden of her home in Normandy, north-western France.

Cluster headache is also known as the “suicidal disease” because sufferers sometimes want to “stop” it in order to stop this “extreme” pain.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), this neurological disease affects one in 1000 people worldwide, the cause of which is still unknown and which affects six men for every woman.


To date, there is no curative treatment. Only basic treatments and crisis treatments are available to cope with it.

Attacks usually last between 15 minutes and three hours. Some people may have multiple attacks per day, episodic or chronic.

For Diane Wattrelos, the disease is chronic: she suffers about ten attacks a day that last about thirty minutes.

It all started when I was 14. She recalls feeling like “electric shocks in the neck” the very first time.

Then a long diagnostic hike begins.

At 19 she met her future husband. Despite the recurring pain, she lives on, celebrates, begins to study, and travels.

Until one day in 2013 she was “defeated” by a crisis. “That day I saw the distress in my husband’s eyes, I could no longer hide the illness.”

Not a day, not a night without a crisis breaking out. The disease isolates her, she loses about fifteen kilos.

One morning her legs give out under her. She is treated in the headache emergency room of a Paris hospital.

At the end of the day she is told that she suffers from cluster headaches.

“In that moment, I feel legitimate in my pain, I tell myself we’re finally getting treatment,” recalled the 30-year-old.

She tries about twenty treatments with no result. It is declared drug resistant.

Because she “wants to try everything to get out of this hell,” she agrees to the operation. She comes out “maimed” from a total of twelve surgeries that could have rendered her infertile.

But the desire to have children was stronger than anything else: “My husband said to me: ‘The illness took a lot out of us, it won’t take it away from us,'” she smiles today.

After a PMA, they greet a little boy. She discovers that she has endometriosis. “It was very difficult, I didn’t feel strong enough to face another illness,” she says.

Some time later she gave birth to a “miracle” girl.

To share her story, she created an Instagram account.

“I saw that I helped a lot of people by talking about my illness and that was my best therapy.”

“I turned my disability into a strength,” she says. But “I went through much darker phases, through depression.”

To support her attacks, she gives herself oxygen and injects herself with a “magic shot”, a vasoconstrictor. “I only get two shots a day so I have to ‘choose’ the attacks.” A dosage that she exceeds despite the risks.

Lately, she’s been battling an “addiction to legal drugs.” “I’ve been taking Tramadol (a painkiller from the opiate family, editor’s note) for ten years, and I became aware of my addiction in November while watching a show,” she says.

In order to persevere, she clings to “her family”. “Some weekends I can’t really step on the gas, but there are also beautiful moments and they are worth living.”

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