This is minimally edited because, you guessed it, I’ve been having migraines but need to get this published.
Chronic migraines are a problem that aren’t acknowledged very often, but over 11 million people in the United States blame chronic migraines for their moderate to severe disability. A problem this big deserves to have some light shone on it, and that’s precisely what I intend to do.
I suffer from cluster headaches, a form of migraines that during an attack affect a person at least once daily for about three weeks straight, though they usually last longer. The pain associated with cluster headaches is usually considered worse than the average migraine as well. During an attack period, the sufferer can be rendered unable to complete the most basic actions due to the severity. Unfortunately, sufferers can face additional hardships of family members, friends, teachers, co-workers, and others in their lives not understanding how bad it all truly is. When this goes misunderstood, conflicts can arise when the sufferer can’t meet the expectations of those around them.
This is something I have grown all too familiar with. My school work isn’t getting done, my other obligations are being abandoned, and just existing has been a struggle. It’s gotten harder considering my teachers and parents have grown to no longer be understanding and many misconceptions are formed around it. So these are some of the things I’d like more people to understand about chronic migraines. (Boy, I just love debunking misconceptions, don’t I?)
I’m not avoiding you.
Canceled plan after canceled plan after canceled plan; I understand how this could be frustrating and it may even seem like I don’t want to be around people. In reality, this actually kills me. I would love to be able to be around people more often, but unless you’re cool with just sitting around in a darkened room with me in silence, it’s probably for the best that I remain by myself.
On my good days, I do everything I can to get out and have fun because I know another migraine could strike any moment and leave me bedridden once again. So please just know that I’m not avoiding you, I just can’t get out of bed without extreme pain more than half the time.
It’s not just an excuse to do nothing.
This is one of the most frustrating things I’ve had to explain to people. I’m not just being lazy; I legitimately can’t get stuff done. Have you ever tried to read or write or complete any task with a headache? Even with a mild headache, tasks become a lot more daunting, don’t they? That’s exactly how it feels when trying to get work done with chronic migraines, the only difference being that it’s a near daily inconvenience as opposed to every once in awhile.
I sit through my classes, hardly able to absorb anything I’m being told because my head hurts so badly. I may even “go to the bathroom” so I can cry it out for a little bit before returning to class. Then I return home and am expected to complete a mountain of work while it still feels like I’m going to throw up and I just want to lay down in the dark and sleep. All the while, anyone I try to talk to about this issue just tells me I “need to get it done”, or “try breaking it all up into manageable pieces!”. That isn’t possible when even opening my eyes causes severe pain to rip through my skull!
I’m not faking it.
The one thing that angers me more than people thinking I’m using my migraines as an excuse are people who think I’m lying about it altogether. At least before it was just a case of misunderstanding, but here it’s an accusation that I would lie about a pain so harsh.
My migraines render me unable to accomplish the most basic of things. What makes a person think I would fake something to the extent of potentially ruining my future. My grades in my classes have plummeted, I hardly practice my musical instruments anymore, I haven’t completed a decent piece of art in over a year, and I can hardly leave my house. These things fuel my depression and make it hard to accomplish anything even when I’m not in intense pain. How could I ever wish this on myself? Those who accuse me and those who suffer as I do as faking this illness definitely have never felt the pain and will never understand all that it causes.
I know it’s hard to deal with. But it’s harder for me.
For those close to those of us who suffer from chronic migraines; I know it can be hard to be there for us. It’s not fun to nurse someone who can’t even open their eyes or talk to let you know what they need. It’s an understatement to say that it’s hard to deal with.
But please remember that it’s harder for the person suffering. They are the ones in physical agony and emotional turmoil. They probably feel bad for inconveniencing you, for ruining your day, for ruining their own day. Plus, they are probably worried about dealing with all of the above misconceptions.
Please share this article if you found it informational or helpful, it could really mean the world to someone who’s suffering to know that someone understands. Thanks for reading!