It is migraine and headache awareness month! Migraines are invisible and often misunderstood as a bad headache. Migraines are debilitating and often times you cannot function and can last for up to four to seventy-two hours depending on the severity of the migraine. Headaches can be a huge inconvenience but generally don’t last that long and can be relieved by taking Tylenol or Ibuprofen. Migraines, on the other hand, aren’t that simple and last much longer than your average headache and when your current migraine medication fails it can be frustrating because more often than not there is not much you can do to get relief. Migraines are invisible and can affect anyone but unless someone tells you they have one you will not know it. If you do so happen to know someone with migraines here are a few things you should avoid saying.
You’re so lucky you don’t have to work– Not being able to work because of an illness or disability is not a vacation. Some migraineurs get pain so severe that it effects there ability to work a real job but if they could they would much rather work a full-time job than live with their pain. Living with pain is a full-time job within itself so although you may think we are living the life if you saw what we had to deal with behind closed doors you may have a higher respect for people living with pain and may not want to live their life.
Have you tried Tylenol, Excedrin?-First of all if Tylenol or Ibuprofen is treating your head pain you don’t have a migraine but have a headache. Excedrin can help treat some types of migraines and lessen the pain but it does not treat all types and for some people who have chronic migraines Excedrin doesn’t touch their pain and only works a small percentage of the time. For me personally Excedrin only works about thirty percent of the time so although it is a good back up medication it doesn’t always work and migraineurs generally rely on the medication their doctor prescribed to prevent migraines, not Excedrin!
I get headaches too- Does your pain affect your ability to do certain activities? Do you ever lose your appetite or suddenly want to eat everything in sight because your pain is so severe? Do you cry in your sleep because you’re in so much pain? If you answered no to one or all of these questions, then your pain is not even comparable to mine! Yes everyone gets headaches but not everyone gets migraines and when you say I get headaches too you are being very insensitive of my pain and you might as well say tough it out! Instead of saying I get headaches too and basically telling my pain isn’t that bad try to understand my condition and see if there is anything you can do to help lessen the pain. If your not in my situation you cannot relate to it and it doesn’t make me feel better when you try.
Have you tried yoga or pilates?-Exercise has a lot of benefits but for most people with migraines it can be tricky and also very nerve-racking because you never know if physical activity, will trigger an attack. Some migraineurs get pain so severe they can’t work out at all while others have to stick to low-intensity routines. For me personally, if I do any physical activity that significantly raises my heart rate it will trigger a migraine so I have to stick to low-intensity routines like Pilates or Yoga. I used to do something called PIIT (pilates intense interval training) which is basically high-intensity interval training with Pilates moves infused into it but because of migraines, I can’t do that anymore which saddens me because although I didn’t do it the traditional way it was still fun! Migraineurs do as much they can as far as physical activity goes and for some that may just be a few simple stretches.
You should be used to it by now- It doesn’t matter how long you have been living with your disability or illness no one gets used to it. We learn to cope with it and when you dismiss our pain and act like it’s no big deal it comes off as rude and insensitive. Chronic pain sufferers are longing for the day to be pain-free so, no we will never get used to our pain.
Migraines are invisible and when you have never experienced a migraine it can be difficult to understand what it’s like. Often times people who don’t experience migraines think that the ultimate solution is Excedrin but unfortunately that is not always the case and resting, sitting in a dark room or taking a break from electronics usually are better solutions if you are trying to get pain relief. There is nothing wrong with not knowing or understanding our condition but questioning it is hurtful. If you have any questions about what you shouldn’t say to migraineurs please leave them in the comments below.