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Thanks for Your Concern… I Don’t Want to Talk About It

A friend came over for a few minutes and we chatted for a bit. I’d just returned from vacation so he asked how it was and if I’d felt great the whole trip. I started to answer, then took a deep breath and said, “I don’t want to talk about it right now, but thank you for asking. We saw incredible elk mating displays at Rocky Mountain National Park.”

I know I’m very fortunate to have many people in my life who are interested in knowing what’s going on with my migraines. Their care and support mean the world to me, but they want so much for me to feel better that sometimes I feel bad disappointing them with the truth. Some days I just don’t feel like talking about migraine. I’ve learned to say, “I don’t want to talk about it right now, but thank you for asking.”

The day my friend was over was at the end of two bad days. Not only was my migraine more severe and more debilitating than has been the norm this year, I was frustrated and feeling hopeless. I’d been crying not 10 minutes before he arrived. If I’d started talking about my health, the tears would have been flowing in no time. Sometimes that’s just fine, but I’d already pulled myself together several times that day and I didn’t want to do it again.

Most of the time I’m perfectly happy to talk about the facts of migraine and my treatment. Other times I want to vent and unload my frustration. Still other times I want to pretend like everything is fine. Everyone has topics like that, whether it’s health or work or family or money. Whatever the topic, there’s nothing wrong with saying, “I don’t want to talk about it right now.”

I always try to remember to add “thank you,” too. I really did appreciate my friend asking, especially because I knew he genuinely wanted to know how I was doing. But I just couldn’t do it. And my friend understood.

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.


  • Sally
    5 years ago

    I’ve found that after living with this condition for over 20 years, that though people generally do care how I’ve been feeling, they often do not really want to hear that I’ve been awful. So I will say I’ve been good even if that hasn’t really been the case. I will also use excuses other than migraine just because I get so tired of always canceling because of it. I just think people will think I’m just using it as an excuse.

  • mia
    5 years ago

    I like your suggestion of “I don’t want to talk about it” but I like mhesssmith’s even more – “Oh, it’s just too boring to talk about”. I’m struggling with this right now. I’ve had migraine for >20 years but in the past couple of years it has progressed to chronic migraine, bringing a lot more attention from friends, family and co-workers. I’ve had some improvements in the last few months but I’ve not been miraculously cured.

    That seems to be the expectation. When I get excited about a new treatment and hope that it can help even a little bit, I share this with others. The problem comes in when those people ask how I’m doing. If I’m truthful – “Well, I’ve had a rough month” or “This past weekend was really bad” I inevitably get the response “Well, I thought you were getting better!” or “I thought those treatments were supposed to help!” or the worst “Why can’t they find out what causes it?!”
    I feel the frustration in their responses. I also feel the need to again explain the lack of miracles or magic cures in a chronic or ongoing illness for which there really is no cure.

    Some days I just say “fine. better.” because I’m just sick of hearing myself talk about it. And I’m certainly sick of defending ‘them’ (my doctors) because ‘they’ just can’t figure out how to help me. It seems impossible to explain to everyone that there’s just no easy fix. It’s frustrating to say the least.

  • mhesssmith
    5 years ago

    I can absolutely relate to this. I always say, “Oh, it’s just boring to talk about it, but thanks for asking”. And it is boring. Because I’ve been talking about it for 30 years and it’s only gotten worse, not better. It’s boring and exhausting and it only brings me down more to talk about it. If the people around me really knew how I felt all the time, they probably wouldn’t even ask. They can only really tell on the EXTREMELY bad days, but I have chronic migraines every day…some days better than others. But who wants to hear about my headaches everyday? Certainly not me.

  • kateymac
    5 years ago

    This is SO familiar. “Did you feel GREAT the whole trip?”
    If I answer the phone cheerfully, I’m told “Well you sound good, you MUST BE FEELING BETTER”. And when I do make it out of the house, to a family gathering, etc., I get “well you look great; you must be getting better!”

    However: I answer the phone cheerfully because a) I may have been alone in the dark for days/weeks; b) I just happen to like the person who called me; c) I don’t answer the phone when I’m too sick to talk and I’m going to cry, etc…

    AND: I “look GREAT” when I go out because I only go out on my “good”, aka – manageable, days. By migraine’s very nature, few people ever see me unless I’m having one of my few “good days” (often meaning 3 or 4 hours).

    For YEARS, I tried to explain that, no – I’m actually having an awful day, but I CAN answer the phone, etc., etc…
    But often now I’m able to just say “Do I? – That’s great!” (to “you sound good”); or, well I’m happy cuz I’m talking to YOU!” ; or just WOW! – THANKS!” (to “you LOOK good.)

    I also use a version of your suggestion: “oh let’s not talk about that – how are your KIDS?, … or … where’s the FOOD?… where’s the bathroom- it was a long ride!…. no YOU look good – I LOVE that sweater! etc., etc., etc…”

  • Sandy
    5 years ago

    Thank you for the great advice. I do want to talk about but having been unable to work past wks because of chronic migraine headaches I have learned who is able to support me in my life on this issue. Most of the time I guess loved ones r hopeful and excited they have the new answer or it worked for them or someone else they feel.compelled to tell me even I ask them to just listen or try and understand from my point of view. I just end up frustrated and resentful. I will take ur words of advice. Thank you.

  • Jules2dl
    5 years ago

    Having recently returned from a long-awaited inpatient stay at Jefferson Headache Clinic, I’ve found it frustrating that friends and family members expect my migraines to have been cured. They register dismay when I tell them I’m still getting headaches, even though I am happy with the improvement I’ve experienced. I’ve learned to just say I’m better without elaborating, and leave them to draw their own conclusions.
    My 92 year old dad’s reply to “how are you?” is always “wonderful, just wonderful”, no matter how he feels. He claims it pretty much ends the conversation and stops the other person from listing their ills.

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