From the community: Words that describe migraine

Community Poll - Words That Describe Migraine

After reading The Migraine Girl's recent article on patient-created language, we became curious about YOUR favorite terms for describing migraine. So we asked our Facebook communityWhat are some of your self-created phrases you use to describe migraine? The responses were vivid and creative! Here's what our community had to say...

To describe an attack:

  • I always say the leprechaun in my head has his hammer out!
  • I say I have a headache "that makes me want to dig my eye out with a spoon"
  • Walking around with an ax blade stuck in my browbone.
  • A mini construction worker is jack hammering my brain
  • "Brick-walling," one of my migraines feels like someone is bashing the back of my skull in with a brick.
  • "Walking migraine" - when I have a migraine that I can move through life with and not be bedridden!
  • Ice-pick headaches
  • Skull buster
  • Full-blown, monster migraine are called "The Dementors"!
  • "So bad my eyelashes hurt."
  • Our family has always referred to it as "The Ripper" because it feels like your head is literally ripping apart.
  • Pure torture
  • I pretty much describe every migraine as the migraine from hell. Seems like an accurate description to me!
  • I just refer to it as my "M" because I'm afraid I'll trigger one or make one worse by saying the word migraine.
  • I once explained to my neurologist that I felt like drilling my own skull to let the pressure out.
  • I normally say I'm having a bad head day, anyone that knows me well will normally ask if amputation is required.
  • Brain pain
  • Brain cramps - that sudden stabbing headache that feels like a Charlie horse times 10!
  • Lotion eyes - for years before I knew I was getting migraines I thought I had lotion in my eyes.
  • Thumper
  • When the pain hits with no warning then it's a "drive by."
  • If the weather is the cause then it's "thunder."
  • A splitting pain is a "splitting maul."
  • Migraine days are "horizontal" and good days are "vertical." That way I don't make those around me feel too bad but get the point across.
  • Brain pushing through my skull.
  • The description that cracks people up a lot - but seems to clue in people - is the Thighmaster analogy-I describe an imploding migraine as Godzilla using my head for a Thighmaster
  • I say "baby neck" when your head feels too heavy for you to hold it up
  • I say "jabs and jolts" when you get those lightning bolts shooting through your head.
  • I ask if anyone got the plate number of the truck that hit me. Another one is I want my voodoo doll back, tired of someone hitting it against the wall.
  • Charlie. Guess I should explain. I've been living with this headache for almost five years now. I'm tired of it. I'd like to get rid of it. So when he is really acting up, I just say "Sorry, it's Charlie's fault."
  • The sick headache! I picked that up from Gilligan's Island! Mrs. Howell had sick headaches, and I identified with that before I learned that what I had were migraines.
  • Walking with a migraine makes me feel like I'm Hulk Stomping the ground with every step I take.
  • I rate my migraines as "functioning migraines" and "non-functioning migraines." With functioning migraines, I can take my pill and still make it through my day. And non-functioning means I'm in bed waiting for death (lol) so on my calendar I keep track daily of how I feel.
  • Seeing stars when an aura starts (scintillating scotoma really)
  • Mack Truck - when a migraine comes on without any warning
  • The green monster.
  • Ugly
  • I like to say it's a screamer.
  • I'd call it a "zombie" if I tried to kill it at least once but it came back - "damn, the thing just won't die already!"
  • One step to die headache!!
  • Heady
  • Mirror headache: a bad migraine brings along a buddy that attacks the opposite side of my head within 24 hours of the first migraine subsiding.
  • I tell people that they are intense like brain freeze
  • Another Day in my Paradise
  • Vise grip on my head
  • Being held hostage by my head - my neurologist really liked that one.
  • Ax on my head for a #7, Bulldozer hit my head for a #8, Cut my head off for a #9
  • I see sparkles
  • Headache Hell
  • Killer Headache
  • Go Blind Lights (the bright squiggly line that moves across my field of vision)
  • Crack My Head Open Headache
  • Brainache
  • Hammer to the back of my head
  • Total body revolt
  • When I was really little I used to tell my mom how bad my migraines were by saying what size smurf I had walking around on my brain.
  • I say there's a thunderstorm inside my head
  • Brain event
  • I quite often say migraining
  • Seeing a prism and going blind for a while - hilarious! Not.

To describe prodrome and postdrome phases:

  • A hangover without the benefit of a drink
  • The day after a bad migraine I feel as though I was hit in the back of my head with a shovel.
  • After migraine = "bucket of DUH"
  • "Run over by a truck" the day after.
  • Leftover migraine
  • Migraine fog is a good phase for the recovery phase I feel. People generally know what you are talking about then even if they're not sufferers themselves.
  • Migraine dyslexia-hellish head
  • Frenzied brain
  • "Moving through gravy" is when you just can't function at full speed
  • I call the migraine hangover a Spiderweb Halo
  • "Being on another planet" or "the aliens stole my brain"
  • Getting attacked by fire flies - describing the spotlight aura I get before the full aura.
  • I call it the build up and the let down to describe the before and after.
  • Speech diarrhea
  • "The light looks weird" (I'm going to have  migraine in about 15 minutes).
  • That 15 seconds when it feels like a screw going in and out real slow, quite painful, I call those my after shocks
  • After-effects
  • Pregame and postgame

To describe symptoms:

  • Face like a Picasso painting - for when I have facial paralysis and often my one eye seems to visually slide down my face and my mouth splurges across my face.
  • When I get too close to a troublesome scent, I get what I call a 'zinger.' It feels like my brain is being zapped.
  • Tongue fuzz
  • Me and my mum made up words to describe our symptoms. So whirlygig or cart wheel and zig zags for visual disturbance. Alien hands. Having numbface. Confusiation.
  • Word salad - when I'm making no sense if I try and speak. My 6 year old says the troll bashing around inside my head must have stolen my dictionary.
  • Moggy is what I call migraine foggy feeling
  • Brain drunk from a migraine
  • My brain is not firing on all cylinders

To describe being confined to bed:

  • Being down in the headache hole
  • That clammy staticky feeling I get when getting out of bed, I call it peeling myself off the pillow
  • I'm cocooning
  • I literally become a prisoner in my darkened bedroom

To describe medication:

  • I call my Imitrex stat dose injection my liquid gold!

How about you? How do you describe your experience with migraine? Please share in the comments. 


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