A Few Things Migraineurs Want You To Know

-There are many things that make migraines very individual. One main difference between migraines is the frequency: if they are chronic or episodic.

Chronic migraines are 15 or more headache days a month, lasting 4 plus hours each episode.    

Episodic migraines are less than 15 headache days a month.


- Migraineurs don't always look sick but we almost always feel sick. We can function under a certain pain threshold of a migraine; just because we are not in bed doesn’t mean we are migraine-free. Some migraine attacks are more severe and debilitating, whereas some migraines are mild and manageable. Each migraineur knows their body and what their limitations are. We often try to push ourselves, but it is healthier for us to listen to what our body is saying to make the best decision for our health.

-Migraines are considered an invisible illness. Invisible illnesses are deceiving because although we may look healthy, we are often in pain. People who are around me often and are migraine-aware notice paleness, droopy eyelid and face on one side, shaking, vomiting, etc. However, my symptoms are not always so obvious.

- Don’t let one good day fool you. Just became a migraineur posts pictures where they are seemingly happy and well does not mean there aren't medications involved in order to make that day possible. I often plan accordingly; if I know I have a busy week or a lot of obligations coming up, I try to build breaks into my schedule and not over commit myself.

-Saying “No” isn’t easy. Migraineurs often bare the guilt of constantly flaking on commitments, so we really hate to say no or let someone down even if we know it’s better that we don’t over-commit.

-We DO NOT cause our migraines. Being emotional or stressed is not causing me to have migraines every day. Stress may contribute or trigger a migraine, but it is not causing chronic migraines. Migraines are a neurological disorder and are often genetic, but the exact cause is unknown/varies.

-We don't mean to be rude when we don't eat your food or finish our plate. Surely, your meal or restaurant choice was delicious. There is a good chance that we are nauseous, have been throwing up, are have a hard time maintaining an appetite, or are sensitive to the food served. Diet is complicated and individual for each migraineur.

- Not all migraineurs get visual auras, although auras are often an associated symptom of a migraine and can be a precursor of a migraine episode for some migraineurs.

- Migraines can be debilitating and are considered a disability.

-Migraineurs are not lazy or flaky, we would love to pursue greatness and achieve excellence. Imagine reading with a throbbing ache behind your eye. It becomes very difficult to focus on anything other than your pain and makes learning, memorizing, and concentrating difficult.

-Don’t mind the personal pharmacy in our bags. Many migraineurs are self-conscious about the amount of drugs and other remedies that they need to have on them. Migraineurs may also be self-conscious of scars from injection sites and IV’s or bruises from treatments. Personally, I take these potentially awkward moments as an opportunity to educate people who are interested and ask. and I’m always happy to help out a friend in need with a band aid, Advil, or whatever else I may happen to have.

-May migraineurs don't mind questions, but please, don't give us unsolicited medical advice. Although you are likely well intentioned, this can make us feel even more hopeless if we have already tried your recommendation. Showing an interest and being nosey are two different things!  

-We are sorry for blowing off our plans. Trust that we would rather be where we were expected to be with you than bedridden wanting to cry because you’re in so much pain.

- We do not have a low pain tolerance; in fact, it is often the opposite of that.

-If we seem irritable or rude, there’s a chance we are getting or having a migraine. Think about how you feel when you are sick or in pain, and imagine that being constant.

-If we ignore your texts or calls for hours we are probably sick with a migraine and trying to sleep through it. Also, screens are bright and make migraineurs even sicker.

-No, we are not hung-over or pregnant, and it's not funny to make light of our serious symptoms. Nausea and vomiting are common symptoms of migraines, which can be severe at times.

-We appreciate it when you notice the extra effort. It takes for us to do something that normally wouldn’t be a big deal. Little things like driving, showering, getting ready, and traveling can be really difficult for a migraineur.

-Not all migraineurs are depressed. Although depression can be comorbidity with migraines, many migraine symptoms are similar to diagnostic traits in depression like sleeping a lot, decreased appetite, headaches, sadness, etc. We can be happy but still unhappy about having migraines!