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I can’t make it—I have a migraine.

I cancel plans. I cancel plans a lot. One of my least favorite things about having migraine disease is my need for lots of quiet alone time, even if I don’t want it. I love being social; I love spending time with friends, going to shows, grabbing a beer, or sitting around having craft night. But the migraines often get me down.

Sometimes I just don’t commit to something I would love to attend. That late-night party down the street, the one that’s sure to be fun and full of dancing and friends? “Maybe–if I don’t feel bad.” The movie I’ve been wanting to see is playing the night before my period is to arrive–most likely I’ll have a migraine then, so going to a movie is just ruled out before I even consider making plans.

Other times, I bail in fear of a migraine. Big events like weddings, funerals, holidays, and other much-anticipated events are almost sure to be accompanied by an attack. A couple of years ago, I got an invitation to a good friend’s wedding. I took some factors into consideration: 1, most weddings entail my pretending to have fun and socialize when really I have throbbing pain behind my eyes; 2, going to an old friend’s wedding doesn’t guarantee you’ll actually get to talk to that person; 3, The venue was nearly two hours from my home–and I didn’t have the inclination or money to spend the night in the same town as the wedding–that means I would have a long drive there and back–more triggers.

Out of fear, I wrote a sweet note to my friend and declined the invitation. Turns out she was hurt and disappointed–she’d really wanted me there; I was one of the first friends she’d met as a seventh grader in a new town. So I went. And I had fun. And I got a migraine on the way home.

Mostly I cancel plans at the last minute when I have an attack coming on. Even if the meds I take do work, the postdrome means I’ll be sleepy and out of it and not in the mood to socialize. A few years ago, I’d pop Imitrex or Relpax while at a busy rock show at midnight, sure the headache would be gone in a few minutes so I could continue dancing and rocking out. I was usually right in my judgment then and ended up back up to par an hour or so later, ready to continue to the night. I don’t feel that way anymore. Now I skip out when I feel the migraine coming on and head straight home, realizing that if I push myself I’ll feel worse.

Canceling plans makes me feel terrible; my guilt merely compounds the pain and nausea I’m feeling, and that simply doesn’t help anyone, the friends I’ve canceled on or myself. My friends and family are extremely understanding: they know of my health condition and their first priority (and usually mine) is to take care of me. But I still cannot get over the feeling that maybe, just maybe, they think I’m flaky. That I’ve let them down. That I can’t be counted on. And I can’t seem to figure out how to get over that.

I read others’ blogs, read mantras about taking care of myself, read stories about people going through similar things. Maybe one day soon all that will click. Logically, I know the the choice I make to go home and try to relax is the only healthy choice I can make. Emotionally, I continue to feel like I’m undependable, and that feels pretty rotten.

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.


  • Robin Gayle
    6 years ago

    I can’t tell u how gratifying it is to know I’m not alone in my daily struggle with chronic migraines. Not only dealing with the unbearable pain n side effects from medications but the whole social aspect as well. I’ve been fortunate enough to have very understanding friends n family but unfortunately my marriage has suffered greatly due to my illness. Having young children n relying so much on others is such a struggle. As I lie in bed in complete agony n I can hear my little ones from the other room laughing n playing makes it that much hard to cope with knowing how much I am missing out on as a mom. I never in my wildest dreams imagined I would have a life like I do due to my migraines… But I carry on n make the best of the days I’m ok enough to get up n enjoy my life. I always tell myself that it could always be worse n I have learned not to take anything in life for-granted. Thank u, all of those who put posts up about their struggles with migraines, always comforting to know I’m not alone

  • Dori Fritzinger
    6 years ago

    My counselor’s (that I see for coping with my migraine disease) charged me for a no show – because I had to miss my appointment due to a sever migraine – I did get it reversed but really!

  • mia
    6 years ago

    So many posts I read on this site hit very close to home. This one is no exception. I constantly feel guilty for canceling plans – or even worse, seeing my whole family cancel plans – because I have a migraine. Again. It feels like you’re letting loved ones down even when they say they understand.
    I think it’s even worse when we ‘fake it’ and just suffer through events in pain. Even though I admit to doing it as well, I think we’re just perpetuating that idea that so many people have that it’s really ‘not that bad’ and we could go if we really wanted to.
    Thanks for sharing and for once again making me realize that I am not alone in this 🙂

  • Dina Issa
    8 years ago

    I can completely relate. It truly is the worst part of having migraines. Don’t focus so much on what people are thinking. It will drive you nuts! I do try to make it up to them when I am feeling better by calling or arranging to meet. Apologise for not being able to make it and try to briefly explain why. If they don’t wish to empathise with you, they are selfish friends. The way I see it, I’m damned if I go and damned if I don’t. If I go , I’m not in a very social mood and seem dis-interested. If I don’t go, well what you said about looking flaky and unreliable. So many times I have taken painkillers and drunk heaps of caffeine to make it to a function that I cant get out of. And I find myself just waiting for the time to come to go home and curl up in bed. Not very fun.
    🙁 These days depending on the severity and length of the migraine, I choose to make myself comfortable.

  • Tricia
    10 years ago

    wow, someone else that goes through the same things as me! glad I found your page. I feel pretty alone. I never make plans because I never know how I'll feel that day. my hubby tells me, 'well we can always cancel if we need to' I just feel badly doing that. I'm someone that likes to stick with commitments I make you know, so I just never make plans. I guess I live spontaneously in a way lol.

  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    I can truly relate to so much of your blog and appreciate it. It's so hard for friends and family to understand, as hard as some try. I've become quite an actress faking it through important events, through pain and the exhaustion and dullness of meds. I hate feeling like a flakey friend and no that I am not as dependable in body as I am in my heart for my friends. Thanks for sharing so I can hear these feelings voiced by someone else.

  • OTB
    12 years ago

    Hello migraine girl. This post is exactly what I do and feel all the time…the not making plans, the fear of staying up late because it could (and probably will be) a trigger, the feeling of guilt for being undependable and unreliable, when that’s the opposite of who I would be if it’s not for these migraines. I just figured out that I have migraines…I am 29 and I have been having symptoms since I was about 12…and it was called “sinus”…and after I had 2 sinus surgeries and was told that my pain was not sinus anymore did I finally figure out it was migraine. Although I hate it that ANYONE in the world suffers with this, how glad I am that you are sharing! It makes me feel un-alone.
    Thank you — signed, a new fan!

  • Marlene
    12 years ago

    I am not too savvy on computer lingo so I will just say that while searching for a cure to this headpain…and YES I just may discover it, I came across the blog ” Leaving the Rabbit Hole”.

    I must say it is the best (auto)biography that I have read in years! The reviews, my gosh, everyone agrees.

    Isn’t it something in order for me to feel good about my health I need to read all about the pain and suffering of other’s? Sounds kind of morbid but that is where I get my self esteem, my validation, support, and knowledge.

    I am so greatful and appreciative of “migraine girl” and the follow up comments pertaining to this very unkind disease.

    The paranoia for me can be as difficult as having to explain why I can’t do many things and having to say ” I am sorry” so often.

    I don’t know why it has taken so long but I do believe that the world wide web has made the medical community more involved in trying to understand this illness, make an accurate diagnoses , and a treatable disease.

    Meanwhile I do want to say thank you and how greatful I am to be reading your “Blogs”.


  • spud31
    12 years ago

    I understand this, too. It’s worse now that I’m married and have a small baby, because not only am I missing things, but my husband is taking care of the baby and my older daughter while I’m stuck in bed. I feel major guilt sometimes. But with all that I’ve been through I’ve learned that I have to depend on others and that has helped me learn to deal with the guilt and the despair of not being able to do everything that I want to do on my own.

  • Anonymous
    12 years ago

    I cannot tell you how much I realate to this! I recently found your blog and everything you write I feel like is coming straight from my heart and my throbbing brain/head. This entry, in particular, hits esp. close to home. I feel like my friends are starting to be less understanding and just get tired of and fed up with the whole “migraine thing.” After all, I am sick of it, so how are they not???
    We decided to “bite the bullet” and take a trip this last weekend and now I am totally paying for it with a horrible headache, just like you said. And the constant fear that you will get “stuck” somwhere feeling horrible and not be able to make a graceful exit is almost as bad as the actual headache itself.
    I completely sympathize with you and am thankful for a kindred spirit out here in “blog land.”
    Hope you have some good days this week…Love, “another migraine girl”

  • Anonymous
    12 years ago

    i hear ya. my oldest friend’s wedding is in august and i’m a bridesmaid. it’s only march, and i’m already worrying about whether or not i’ll have a migraine that day and how i’m going to suffer through the day with a smile on my face, so as not to draw any attention away from her.

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