Don’t mind the girl with her eyes closed at the concert

The other night, I went to this awesome concert with my dear, sweet daddio. We saw an amazing Beatles cover band here in Athens (they’re called Abbey Road Live) and had a really great time together.

To my relief, there were no strobe lights (those are present all too often at big rock shows, I’m afraid). There was no indoor smoking (thank you, Athens law), and the music was actually at a tolerable volume for me.

But the specialty stage lighting was awful for a migraineur.

There are gorgeous, sparkly lights that create quite the wow effect from far back in a crowd. But up close and personal, lights that swoop rapidly over the crowd and undulate with the music can be a nightmare for migraineurs. Often the swooping and flashing were cued in time with the rhythm of the drums as they reached a climax. These were the times the crowd was most riled up, so it made sense that the lights would match the audience’s and music’s collective fervor.

But those also were the moments when I shielded my brow with my hand, looked down at the floor, and then squeezed my eyes shut. As I was toward the front of a very crowded theatre, bathed in some of the spillover light from the stage, I’m sure I made a strange spectacle. But it was worth not having those lights in my eyes.

Do you have any experiences where you had to close your eyes in public or appear strange to others because you were avoiding a trigger?

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Comments

View Comments (17)
  • Not Carly Simon
    7 years ago

    All the time. Light is a huge trigger for me so I wear a hat and sunglasses whenever I’m outside unless the Sun is completely gone. I had issues with falling asleep in class and used to think it was from staying up too late the night before (even if I hadn’t). Well, I recently discovered that I have issues with fluorescent light and now I wonder if the reason that I fell asleep in my class was that I was getting a migraine (fatigue is a common symptom for me). I wear ear plugs at concerts but usually don’t have a problem with stage lights because they’re so far removed.

  • Sara
    7 years ago

    Absolutely! My man and I always go see the Tragically Hip whenever they come to San Francisco, and I always end up with ear plugs and my eyes closed. I just bought some indoor migraine glasses though – the ones Teri recommended. I think it would be fine to wear them at a concert – some people look a lot weirder than that!!!! 😉

  • Angel
    7 years ago

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! The JERKS I work for refuse to comply w/ my ADA requests from TWO different doctors to change the lights above my desk so I just about die every day (until the EEOC completes its investigation & forces them to comply but that’s another matter). This will make my workday SO much better!!!!!!

  • HorseAndCarriage
    7 years ago

    Angel, migraine glasses are specially tinted with a color called “FL-41” that has been proven in studies to help with photophobia associated with migraines. You can get them from http://www.TheraSpecs.com . The pair I got has changed my life by taking away several migraine symptoms and letting me see the world better (with more contrast, light doesn’t wash things out like it used to, there’s no eye pain from bright lights, I don’t have to squint like I used to, etc.). They probably should rename them “MiracleSpecs”, but, hey, “therapeutic” is a good word, too. 😉

  • Angel
    7 years ago

    What are “migraine glasses”? And where do you get them? I’ve just stopped going to concerts! 🙁

  • Miss Kim
    7 years ago

    Where do I start? I’ve been to concerts with sun glasses and a jacket over my head when a migraine had started; on top of that I have a complex partial seizure disorder that I have to be aware of (hadn’t had one in over 6 years) but nonetheless always have to be careful of lights. The biggie is that I’m a singer in a band with a huge light show. I always make sure our crazy lights are pointed away from me but I cannot describe the pain I go through when I have to sing and pretend to be happy when all I want to do is die…The drums pounding, the guitars squealing. The worst part is the white light on us at all times and then comes the intermission/break when the band stops…the pounding is worse than when the band is playing. The saying that the show must go on us true in this sort of business.

  • HorseAndCarriage
    7 years ago

    My migraine trigger is light of all kinds (photophobia), although especially fluorescent lights. I wear tinted glasses made for photophobia and migraines to block the wavelengths that are harmful and cause the pain and migraines. They’re called TheraSpecs (no, I don’t work for the company or anything). Even fluorescents don’t make me sick now! I was at a big concert-type show this past weekend and was in the second row on the side of the runway part of the stage. At some points, spotlights shining on the performers were directed right at my eyes, but with my TheraSpecs on, I didn’t even have to squint (but I saw others near me shielding their eyes). Between the tint and anti-glare coating, these things work really well! I wear them all the time except outdoors during daylight hours, when I wear another brand of migraine sunglasses for outdoors (MigraShades). They took away several of my migraine symptoms from the time I started wearing them (and several weeks later I began a preventive that took away the rest of the symptoms). The concert show I went to was awesome, by the way!

  • HorseAndCarriage
    7 years ago

    Miss Kim, the Web sites are http://www.TheraSpecs.com and http://www.MigraShades.com . I’ve had a couple people call my pair of TheraSpecs my “Bono glasses”, so they’ll fit in well for singing in a band! 🙂

  • Miss Kim
    7 years ago

    Where can you purchase both of these glasses? Thx 😉

  • cudagirl23
    7 years ago

    Actually, I’ve had the same experience, except I was very far away from the stage, it was the stupid “crowd” light that just happened to shine right into my eyes, it was a rock concert and for me I was so excited to be at this particular concert I didn’t want to give in to the nasty migraine that was triggered by the “specialty stage lighting” shining on the crowd in time with the music. I too had to look away each time it shined, but I also got so nausead that I had to leave the concert area, I prayed for the migraine to ebb so I could go back in, but I had to leave the concert altogether – only half way through; I cried on the drive home. 🙁 So disappointed after being sooo excited.

  • janenez
    7 years ago

    Its the Middle of summer and I put on a sweater and long pants to go grocery shopping or to a restaurant or movie. I can’t handle the extreme air conditioning or walking by the refrigerated food aisle. Makes my muscles seize and that is a trigger for me. I look ridiculous all bundled up while my daughters are in sundresses and my husband is in shorts.

  • georgiaslesinger
    7 years ago

    Absolutely! Most stores have flourescent lights and I can’t spend too much time in them. I hold onto the carriage tightly in case I get dizzy and look at the floor.

    I recently had to turn down an invitation to a concert because I knew the music would be too loud and the lights too bright. Any party with loud music and strobe lights have to be avoided.

    I had oral surgery a couple of weeks ago to have a tooth extracted and had to ask for them to turn the bright light away from my eyes. I had put migraine on my info sheet and they immediately understood and the surgeon used his head lamp to see instead.

    I even put on my sunglasses in the house during a thunder and lightning storm and keep my hands over my ears so the sound and light flashes won’t trigger a migraine.

    Not easy living like this, but I don’t have a choice. As much as I’d like to go to that concert, it’s not worth four or five days of misery and pain.

  • HorseAndCarriage
    7 years ago

    You do have a choice – please read my comment above about migraine glasses that block the harmful light wavelengths from fluorescent lights and other sources. They have really helped me! 🙂 I’m just a happy customer of the two companies I purchased them from; this isn’t Spam. I just found this site the other day.

  • rhondagrensberg
    7 years ago

    I have often had to leave a store where the smell was too much, too much perfume, too many scented candles, etc. I just put whatever I have in my hands down and run out. I get odd looks. I love Yankee Candles, but the store is just overpowering for my trigger. Also I get strange looks in the cleaning supply aisle at the store. I drag my best friend see something that looks good and shove it under her nose. She knows my trigger points and will tell me. It is a great help to have someone who can do this rather than spend time having a migraine for 2 days to buy clothes soap.

  • TiciaNiemi
    7 years ago

    I have a surgical mask I put on when I have to tackle those aisle’s… That is always fun. People think you have a horrible disease..

  • lindasue
    7 years ago

    I went to a small concert venue recently and I had the same problem. They shone spot lights out into the audience, which can be a huge trigger for me. I was ducking and covering my eyes also. The loud music is also an issue for me. I wear earplugs to church even. I know it sounds crazy that I even go to these events, but it had been a hundred years since I was at any type of concert and I took my Mother as a gift. (she loves Merle Haggard) I know I look funny with earplugs, hats, sunglasses and hands over my eyes, but we can’t quit living because of our triggers. Sometimes I must put these aside and live life and pay later. Making memories with my family is always worth a few days of pain for me. I know not all migraineurs agree with that view, but to each his own. Of course, I know the level of pain that each of these triggers produce and that is a factor. If it comes to Aspertame-there is no way I would do that on purpose and deal with the level of pain it gives me.

  • TiciaNiemi
    7 years ago

    I have not been to a concert in years because of this problem. My experience is having to put my sunglasses on when entering department stores. People will stair at me and even walk into things because they were not paying attention too where they were walking. I can handle the regular sunlight but when it comes to going into grocery stores or department stores I have to put my sunglasses on.

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