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Bargaining to Get Rid of Migraine

“What would you give up to never have another migraine?” This question pops up online a lot, from social media to forums to drug ads. People usually respond to it eagerly.

When I was first asked this question nearly a decade ago, as part of a project a migraineur was doing for her master’s thesis, I gave my answers a lot of thought. My migraines were already severe and debilitating and I’d given up a lot, so I considered the flip side of the question: what would I NOT give up to get rid of the migraines? My answers were as honest as could be. I’ve regretted answering the question ever since.

Time after time, I’d have to give up yet something else due to migraine – reading, friends, living in Seattle, yoga, seeing live bands, travel, wheat products, writing… – then realize it was on that list of things I said I wouldn’t give up. The presence of that list intensified my losses and reminded me how hard I’d worked only to have my health decline. I wasn’t giving up these loves as a trade-off for fewer migraines, but as a result of the intensifying severity of my migraine attacks. I was giving up so much and not getting any relief in return.

However lighthearted the exercise seems, bargaining to make the migraines going away is an act of desperation. Such magical thinking reinforces false hope and can even feed a sense of passivity and futility. As tempting as it is to believe, hoping and wishing cannot change a medical condition.

In time, I’ve regained many of the things I though I’d lost forever. None of that came from wishing away the migraines. It came from persistent, grueling and often seemingly fruitless work at finding helpful preventives and determining my triggers.

The things in life that are most precious to me are not bargaining chips, they’re my motivation to keep moving forward even when it feels like I’m drowning. Instead of wondering what I’d do to get rid of migraine, I prefer to ask what treatment I’ll try next.

Magical thinking can’t make migraine go away, but relentless pursuit of treatments and management techniques just might.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Beth
    5 years ago

    Thanks Kerrie!! I am trying to figure this all out. And thanks to the other 2 posters…especially tucker!! I have been trying to figure out some triggers…and it’s not constant! I can sometimes have a drink, other times, a few sips will be enough to trigger the start of a migraine.

  • tucker
    5 years ago

    This is very interesting. Despite pretty good record keeping for 7 years, I never could pinpoint specific triggers for my migraines. Sure maybe this and that, but even those things weren’t consistent. And all the confusion about stacking triggers just made it worse. Finally, I just said to heck with it. I’m going to live my life and stop documenting all this food and weather and wine and whatnot. I do still jot down my migraines and treatments, just not all the frufru.

    So what did I give up in the end. Well, I still have a case of wine that is so fabulous it makes me sad I have not finished as I know it is probably turning to vinegar or something. But I also don’t drink it just b/c I’d be drinking alone (hubby doesn’t drink wine) and darn if nearly all my meds have that taunting little sticker on them :(:( Sigh…. So, when special occasions come, I break out a bottle, say what the heck and toast away. I have so many headaches/migraines, who know if that one was caused wine or pork or weather or the AC or moon or allergies or sleep or …….

  • Luna
    5 years ago

    Thank you, Kerrie. I fully support your comment…
    “Magical thinking can’t make migraine go away, but relentless pursuit of treatments and management techniques can.”
    Don’t get lost in fantasy. Get real and keep your body and mind healthy.

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