Migraines don’t have to be chronic to impact your life

Most of the migraineurs I interact with in my day-to-day “real” life aren’t chronic migraineurs.  Rather, they are patients who have been diagnosed with migraine but don’t have fifteen or more headache days a month—so technically they have episodic migraine, not chronic.  (I’m not diagnosing anyone online, mind you—I’m basing these words on what migraineurs tell me of their own diagnoses.)

Most of the migraineurs I interact with in my online life as “The Migraine Girl” are chronic migraineurs. That is not to say that most of you reading this are chronic—it’s just that, anecdotally speaking, many of you who comment and interact with me here, on Facebook, and on Twitter are those who have some kind of migraine or headache more than half the time.

Once in a very blue moon, I’ll notice that a chronic migraineur will inadvertently demean an episodic migraineur by suggesting, however innocently, that those with episodic migraine aren’t “real” migraine patients.  On the other hand, in even rarer instances I have seen someone with infrequent migraine attacks bait others by suggesting that maybe the reported frequency of migraine for some is, well, inflated or exaggerated.

Let the record state that all of us are in this together, no matter our specific migraine diagnosis. 

Let the record state that those with episodic migraine also deal with fear of the next attack.  

Even rare attacks can wreak havoc on a patient’s life.  Those who confide in us, their fellow community members, to say that they have a headache and/or migraine every single day should be trusted—they know their bodies.

Recently I encountered an acquaintance who pulled me aside at work and asked if we could talk about migraine for a minute. This guy is in his mid- to late twenties, I’d guess, and said that he could feel that his time for a migraine was coming soon.  As I recall, he said he gets them about twice a year, usually when the weather first starts to change in the spring and again in the late fall.  He has medication to treat them and is very in tune with his body (so can usually tell when the migraine is coming), but he still struck me as profoundly disturbed by the illness.  He is genuinely nervous about the next inevitable attack.

He, like many people, threw out the whole “Oh-but-I-don’t-have-them-like-you-do,” which isn’t helpful for anyone—it belittles his experience and puts on display an unnecessary competition between us for who has it worse.  That’s not what supporting each other is about.
I thought he was going to ask me for advice, as people often do, but instead he just wanted to talk it out a little bit.  We talked about scent triggers and weather changes, about auras and treatments.  The conversation only lasted about five minutes, but I think it was really helpful to us both.

While it’s true that I get many more migraine attacks than my buddy does, it’s not true that I can’t understand his pain and frustration, and it’s not true that he can’t empathize with me.

After all, I am here to testify that even we who are not chronic migraineurs are can have lives that are seriously impacted by these attacks.

I’m curious to hear from you all—caregivers and patients (chronic and episodic alike). How has your perspective changed since being on this site and learning about the different ways people’s  migraine patterns affect them?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com 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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