Believing the lie

We’ve all heard it. Migraine is NOT just a headache. There are so many other symptoms we have to deal with. Sometimes it’s difficult to determine if what I am experiencing is migraine, something else, or nothing at all…especially if there is no headache. It is during these times that I question myself the most.

  • I blame apathy and moodiness on a character flaw without considering it might be migraine prodome.
  • When abdominal pain or nausea creeps in, I assume it is something I ate. I never consider abdominal migraine.
  • Fatigue and muscle aches are attributed to working too hard instead of blaming it on migraine postdrome.

I know I feel horrible. It shouldn’t matter whether I have pain. So why does all my confidence disappear when the migraine doesn’t include a headache?

Deep down there is a part of me that really believes the lie that migraine is “just bad headache”. It’s as if only that terrible pain is justification to relax and be good to myself. It doesn’t matter how many times I run through that long list of disabling symptoms that make up migraine. I still don’t slow down until my head starts to pound.

I know why. I’ve spent a lifetime thinking of migraine as “just a bad headache”. I am part of a large extended family full of migraineurs. None of us ever talked about any symptoms except “pain so bad it made me puke”. The focus has always been on coping with the pain. Everyone, including me, held the mindset that the absence of pain equaled feeling okay.

I know that isn’t true. I’ve experience debilitating symptoms that do not include pain. So why do I struggle to accept the truth? A lifetime of desperately trying to stop the pain still rules my thinking, beliefs, and behaviors. The cultural myth is ingrained in me. Breaking free is hard work.

Pain is more culturally acceptable than our other symptoms. It grabs our attention. It demands that we do something about it.  Society understands the concept of pain. There is no cultural equivalent for light sensitivity, vertigo, irritability, depression, or fatigue despite their disabling influence on a migraineur’s life.

We need to unlearn old ways of thinking about migraine and replace them with facts. We need to talk about the true impact of migraine over and over again until we finally believe it’s true. We must embrace the truth to the point that it changes our thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors. Only then can we begin to change the hearts and minds of society.

In what ways do you still embrace outdated migraine lies?

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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.

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