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Disabled: Migraine in a word

Recently asked our community members to express how their migraine attacks make them feel in just one word. A number of readers shared the same word I chose to describe my own feelings about migraine disease: disabled. This has been a hugely loaded word in my life. Learning to process what it has meant to be legally disabled and therefore unable to work at my chosen career has lead me through some dark times into a place where I am mostly okay with the way things are. This is the story of that journey.

migraine feeling

As I’ve shared before when talking about myself here at and ad nauseam on my own blog Somebody Heal Me, I defined myself by my career as a lawyer while I was still able to work. I worked hard to get into law school, get good grades on the way to a spot in the top 20% of my law school class, pass the bar and land my dream job. I felt I was living the reward for all my hard work by being able to define myself as someone with proximity to power and influence, and I loved every minute of it. Which made my subsequent fall that much longer and harder.

After just three short years in my dream job, I had to stop working because chronic migraines had come to completely dominate every aspect of my life. It was devastating. I didn’t know who I was without that job. I didn’t know how to explain to anyone (former classmates, family, anyone else) what I was doing with my life without that job and my career. I felt ashamed, guilty, embarrassed and alone. I basically hit rock bottom emotionally and was terribly difficult to be around. I was miserable, and I guess I made everyone else miserable, too.

Through many, many therapy sessions with a wonderful psychologist, I started to learn how to stop blaming myself and start to accept the reality of my situation. My health has disabled me, but that’s just one part of who I am. Not only that, but being disabled isn’t something you can choose or reject. It’s simply a situation you find yourself in and the only choice you have is how you’ll react to it.

The really cool thing was that once I started to accept my present circumstances, I found myself more open to little changes that made me feel less desperate and awful about being disabled. I embraced my role as someone who has relevant experiences and knowledge to share with the chronic illness and migraine community, which eventually lead me to a part-time job writing for

I’m not going to lie and say what I do now feels as exhilarating as what I used to do, but I’m a different person, too, and someone who perhaps now values different things based on my experiences. I know I’m able to help people, and that’s a wonderful feeling. It makes me feel needed and vital, and I think that’s really essential in life and something I missed from working and helping support my family.

If you feel disabled by living with migraine disease what does the word mean to you? Has that meaning changed over time? Has there been anything good or empowering about it as there has been for me?

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.


  • Krista Furgerson
    8 years ago

    Thank you for sharing. I am also on disability due to chronic migraines. I hope to come to a degree of acceptance of my circumstances. It’s amazing how much you can lose when you have chronic migraines.

  • Bethany Hamilton
    8 years ago

    Every word here and the comments are also true for me. Latest thought from obe of many drs is that it may be drug interaction with antidepressant. After 10 years if this is true I’m kinda angry.

  • Bonni Currieri Lamey
    8 years ago

    I am on disability and can not earn any money to help support my family. I wish I cold work. my family could use much more money than I get from disability. I wish I could work. The guilt is huge, then again so is the pain. My family is great about it. I am a lucky person. Things can always be worse.

  • Suzanne Pollack
    8 years ago

    Not only am I in pain, but migraines affect my concentration to focus on the job at hand.

  • Johanna Whittaker
    8 years ago

    Right at this moment I’m disabled. Not able to sleep. Not able to get meds to work. Not able to relax. Not able to visit friends tomorrow. Not able to drive. Not able to enjoy children (or life in general). This migraine is not a permanent state – just feels like it right now with pain, sounds, blurry sight, off balance, nausea, blagh. [There is a glimmer of hope, maybe when the sun comes up for a new day?]

  • Debora Cloutier
    8 years ago

    Wow took the words right out of my mouth!

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