Family is closer than you think
Human beings are not designed to live in isolation. We do best as part of thriving, supportive communities in which each person has an important role to play. When migraine shrinks our world and threatens to isolate us from everything and everyone we love, our body, mind, and spirit are injured. We instinctively know that this is not how we were meant to live. It's even worse when other people abandon or ostracize us.
The isolation and rejection of sick people is nothing new. It's been a part of human civilization as far back as historians and archeologists can find. It doesn't make it right or moral, just unfortunately all too common. You see, we also have a tendency to fear and reject anything or anyone we do not understand. That fear drives us to protect ourselves from potential dangers even when there is no risk at all.
Why would anyone be afraid of migraine?
Well, migraine is an unsolvable puzzle. That's threatening to most people, whether they admit it or not. Have you ever observed someone else having a migraine attack? It's uncomfortable to watch. There's all this pain and suffering that defies resolution. If it cannot be aborted, the attack must run a course that can last for days. An invisible force is in control. No wonder it was once thought to be caused by demon possession!
Few people in modern society would attribute migraine to such superstitions. That doesn't mean the instinct to fear it has disappeared. We still blame the patient for not getting better. Migraine threatens our sense of security. To a healthy outsider, the attacks appear random and uncontrollable. Others naturally look for, and find explanations that do not implicate themselves or the culture they embrace. It's just so much easier to walk away from a suffering migraineur than to join in their restrictive world. So the ancient practice of exiling the sick continues in modern time. We are left to fend for ourselves. Of course, loved ones and doctors may briefly step into our world to offer limited help. But they are not isolated. They get to resume life as part of the community. We stay isolated.
Or do we?
If we're all ostracized, doesn't that mean we're all together? The latest estimate is that there are 38 million migraineurs just in the U.S. alone and over 1 billion worldwide. That means that wherever you go, one out of every 8 people has migraine. That's a lot of people living in isolation! Why do we wrap our arms around ourselves and shut out the world? If we would just look up, we would find each other. We are all members of a misunderstood and feared community. But that community is not small. It is strong and vibrant. We need only to look around to find our migraine family.
Do you realize how powerful we could be? Think about the implications if we were to unite as a special interest group. What if we were to lobby, to petition our governments for better health care, more workplace accommodations, and migraine-friendly public places free of the sensory triggers that plague so many of us?
The trouble is that we all still think we are alone.
Nothing will change until we open our eyes to see that our family is waiting for us to wake up.
How much has your migraine disease changed or evolved over time?