“It’s just a headache – take an aspirin and you’ll feel better,” they say. How many times have you heard this? People living with migraine understand their condition is much more than just a headache. Migraine disease can be debilitating, and impact every aspect of our lives.
Because of frequent and painful migraine attacks, we are often unable to do the things we want to do. We cancel plans at the last minute, don’t get to finish projects we start, and sometimes end up spending days at a time in bed or on the sofa. This leaves us feeling both disappointed and weak. But in reality, we are not weak at all. In fact, we are stronger than we realize! Here are a few reasons why people living with migraine are true warriors:
We Navigate a World Full of Triggers
Migraine attacks are brought on by many triggers that we have no control over. For instance, changes in weather such as high humidity, extreme cold, or heat. The smell of perfume or cologne someone is wearing while sitting next to you on the bus or standing in line at the store. Bright flashing lights from a store sign or even the sun. We never know when and where these triggers will pop up, and there is just no possible way to avoid or reduce them all.
We Handle Complicated Symptoms
Migraine attacks come with a wide variety of symptoms. We may experience an aura. We may have sensitivity to light, noise, and smells. At the same time, we may have nausea, vomiting, throbbing pain, fatigue, and dizziness. In addition to this, we often also have symptoms of other chronic conditions such as facial pain from TMJ or trigeminal neuralgia, back pain, joint pain, and GI issues.
We Manage Complicated Treatments
Where we are on the spectrum of symptoms and pain dictates which medications we should take. We need to understand there are different types of medications (preventive, abortive, and rescue), and when to take each one. We need to identify symptoms and treat them quickly. Our treatment plan may include a combination of injections, infusions, pills, and devices. What works today to reduce or stop our symptoms may not work tomorrow, so our treatment plans can change frequently, and we have to constantly stay on top of what to do.
We Live with the Stigma of Migraine
People with migraine face the stigma of this disease every day. Stigma happens when our friends, family, coworkers or society in general does not understand the disease we live with. We are told, “Oh, it’s only a headache.” Or, “You have a migraine again?” We are given unsolicited advice such as, “Have you tried drinking more water or getting more sleep?” Often we are accused of making excuses or being unreliable. Trust me, we have heard of and tried just about every remedy and so-called “cure” out there. If any of those things worked, we would do them. And when it comes to excuses, often we will try to push through an attack rather than face being considered unreliable or weak.
We Push Through the Pain
We become so good at working through and even smiling through the pain, others don’t realize how much pain we are in. We don’t share our pain because we don’t want to sound whiney or negative. We try to do too much because we don’t want to ask for help or be a burden. We don’t always have the option to stop, rest, and take the time we need to recover. This means our migraine attack pain will worsen, last longer, and require more medication to treat.
So whether it is managing triggers, symptoms, stigma or any of the other myriad of challenges, people who live with migraine disease are not weak… they are indeed true warriors!
Let Us Know
Do you feel migraine has made you stronger? Do you feel migraine attacks make you weaker? Let us know in the comments!