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Defeated, hopeless, powerless, useless – Migraine in a Word

One of the things I detest most about Migraines is how they can make us feel emotionally and mentally. In this regard, Migraines are bullies!

migraine feeling

Back in August, we asked, “In a word, Migraine makes me feel ________.” You can see the most frequent responses in the word cloud image to your left.

Sometimes, it’s really frustrating to not be able to reach out and really talk with each of you individually, but blogging at least gives me a venue to reach out and try to talk with you as I would if you were right here with me. All of the words in the cloud hit home with me, every single one.

Four of them click together in a group especially strong in my mind, and I’d like to talk with you about those. Those four words are:

  • Defeated,
  • Hopeless,
  • Powerless, and
  • Useless.

To me, defeated and hopeless go together, and powerless and useless go together. Plus, the four fit together. What I want to say to you is this:

Yes, Migraines can make us feel that way,
but we’re not any of those things!

Let’s take them one at a time:

  • Defeated: Corny as it may sound, Migraines can’t defeat us unless we let them. Yes, Migraine is a horrible, potentially debilitating disease. The health care system can’t defeat us unless we let it. How do we keep Migraines or the health care system from defeating us? That’s the question, and there is an answer. We keep them from defeating us by being proactive about Migraine management and our Migraine care. We refuse to let them defeat us by taking charge.
  • hopeless: Absolutely, Migraines can make us feel hopeless. If Migraines were people, we’d say they use their symptoms, debilitating nature, and the myths and stigma to conspire to keep us down. But, Migraines aren’t people. Migraine is a disease that we have. Although it may not seem like it at times, there IS hope. More is known about Migraine than ever before, and we have more treatment options than ever before. Are the treatment options as good as they could be? No, they’re not, but we still have far more and more effective treatment options than were available even 10 years ago.
  • powerless: Migraines can make us feel very powerless – powerless to make them stop, to work, to care for our families, to have a social life. I get that, but we have to cling to this fact: Migraine is a powerful disease, but we are more powerful than it is. We have to draw on the source of power within each of us and refuse to let Migraine beat us down. We have Migraine, but Migraine doesn’t have us! Here’s another angle to consider: Knowledge is power, so arm yourself with knowledge about your Migraines and treatments. It can help you feel less powerless when you’ve learned enough to work as a treatment partner with your doctor… when you know enough that your doctor can make decisions WITH you rather than FOR you. That’s POWER!
  • useless: It’s so easy to feel useless when we can’t do the things we need and want to do. I remember feeling totally useless when Migraines were part of what forced me to quit my last “regular” job. I couldn’t contribute financially to my family, and even though I was at home, I wasn’t able to be useful in taking care of my family or home the way I wanted to. Luckily, I’m a very stubborn person. I flat out refused to either be totally useless or feel that I was. So, I looked for the useful things that I WAS able to do to feel useFUL
    • keeping track of family birthdays, then sending e-cards and shopping online or by phone and having presents delivered;
    • making a list of birthday, holiday, and other greeting cards to buy when I felt up to it or for my husband to buy, then addressing them so he could mail them (see Staying in Touch with Greeting Cards Despite Migraines.);
    • handling our Christmas shopping by phone or online.
    • making gifts when I felt up to it (It took me a year to make and decorate four Christmas stockings, but I did it!);
    • helping my husband make a grocery list and putting away the groceries once he brought them home;
    • fixing simple dinners for my family on days I felt up to it;
    • just being there to listen when my husband wanted to share his day or when one of our sons needed to talk.

I’ve felt all of these – defeated, hopeless, powerless, and useless. I still feel them at times, especially during a Migraine attack. One thing I’ve learned it that when I feel these emotions during a Migraine attack, I need to remind myself that the Migraine attack is causing fluctuations in the levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and norepinephrine in my brain, and those fluctuations wreak havoc with our emotions. So I know I tend to feel these even more strongly during a Migraine. I remind myself that the Migraine is messing with my brain, and I’ll feel better emotionally as well as physically when it’s over. My husband has learned a great deal about Migraines too, and he reminds me of this if I’m especially emotional during a Migraine.

Wrapping it up:

  1. We can choose not to be defeated by Migraines by being proactive and taking charge.
  2. When we refuse to be defeated, we can see the hope in the advances that have been made in research and treatment and the array of treatments available to us today.
  3. We can be powerful rather than powerless by learning about Migraines and our treatments and working as treatment partners with our doctors.
  4. There are always ways to be useful; we just have to be patient and creative and find them.

Consider this a coaching session, if you want, or a pep talk from someone who has lived with Migraines for more than 50 years and is very familiar with all of these feelings. I’m here to tell you that Migraine disease can’t make us feel defeated, hopeless, powerless, or useless unless we give in and let it make us feel that way. For each and every one of us, there are times when we need help and support in coping with Migraines and staying in charge. We’re here for you. Talk with us. Please?

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.


  • Sherri Franklin
    8 years ago


  • Stacy Phillips
    8 years ago

    as a wife, and mother of 6, I don’t have time for migraines or for the days of “hangover” I have afterward. I feel so helpless when they come. I go from being the caregiver, to my entire family having to pull together to keep things going. The older kids all pitching in to help daddy with the 10 month old baby, daddy handling everything else in the house. I hate when it comes, because I don’t like being so dependent on others.

  • Laura Raymond
    8 years ago

    You have to check this out.. I no longer suffer from migraines thanks to this product…

  • Janene Zielinski
    8 years ago

    I remember choosing the word “useless”. Migraine “steals” my time, “steals” my energy, “steals” my sense of accomplishment. But, Migraine has taught me some stuff too. It has taught me to be thankful and make the most of every pain-free moment. I have learned that a “single task” done slowly and carefully can be savored – rather than multi-tasking and being miserable. I have learned to savor the joy of finishing – even something that seems small to someone else. I better understand and can empathize with others who have “silent” diseases. I have learned to truly value my eyesight and overall health when I am “migraine free”. I think I am a more patient person because of migraine. So, maybe I am “useless” when I’m in the midst of a migraine – but in those beautiful times when I don’t have a migraine – my “usefulness” feels more mature and real. Hope that makes sense.

  • Teri Robert
    8 years ago

    Well said, Janene. 🙂

  • Rosa Sundquist
    8 years ago

    Thank you Teri! Great article.
    I will never give up. Will continue to look for help and information as long as I can. Staying informed and busy when I can is a daily must for me.. For all my doctor appts. I prepare like a job interview.. Lol I’ve had migraines most of my life, the last three years I’ve had daily migraines, hospital stays, alternative treatments, preventives the list is long.. I continue to try to stay positive and now look at the “Monster Migraines” as another journey in life a super painful one with positive side effects too..
    This monster keeps trying to knock me out it is not going to happen.
    Thank God for my husband and children without their support it would all be so much worse.
    Thanks for all the information you share with us so very helpful.
    Strength, Energery and Migraine free days soon for us all.

  • Teri Robert
    8 years ago

    You’re welcome, Rosa, and thank you. 🙂 Migraine IS a monster, one we cannot allow to win. At times when you need some support, you know where to find us.

  • Teri Robert
    8 years ago

    You’re very welcome, Louise! 🙂

  • Louise M. Houle
    8 years ago

    Thanks for these reminders Teri. Be well.

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