If you’ve never suffered from migraines, it’s hard to truly understand what it’s like having them impact every aspect of your life. From what you eat and drink to what activities you enjoy and the inevitable sick days they will require, migraines take over.
Many people, often meaning well, will try to empathize. They’ll say things like, “Oh, I had an awful migraine once. I needed to take a pill to get it to go away.”
What they may not understand is how belittling it is to imply that a few over-the-counter pills can cure chronic migraines.
The reality for many of us is that it takes years of trial and error to find a treatment that works. We’re on and off various medications while managing side effects along the way. We have periods of time where medications will work, then they just stop without warning.
Think about what it’s like to know you can never go anywhere -- not even to work -- without your arsenal of medications so that you’re always prepared.
It takes dedication and making adjustments to your lifestyle and diet, all with the hopes of preventing a migraine that you often have no way to stop. There are times when you’re at the mercy of a migraine that rules everything for hours or even days. Sleep isn’t even restful, and you dread waking up to the excruciating pain.
What people don’t see is those of us who have no choice but to work through migraines in situations where we don’t have the luxury to take time off (teachers, health care workers, parents, etc.).
I’ve been in all of these roles at one time or another. And I’ve had a migraine on every one of my jobs.
People also don’t know the brain fog we live in after the pain is gone. Time periods where we aren’t able to operate at full capacity but still show up because it’s the expectation.
We so often suffer in silence, behind closed doors in cold, dark, quiet rooms. We make it easy for people not to see our bodies scrunched up in pain or hear us as we vomit. Doors silence our desperate cries wanting -- no, needing -- the pain to be over.
So when those well-meaning people say they can imagine what a migraine is like, I just smile and nod. They don’t know what it’s like, and I hope they never do.
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