In Defense of Michele Bachmann, Migraineur, Congresswoman, Presidential Candidate

I've got to be honest here: I'm not a fan of Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann (R), who has recently announced her intention to run for president in 2012 and even more recently been exposed as a chronic migraine sufferer.

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Bachmann and I don't agree about even one single issue, and I'm not a fan of her high-strung approach to garnering attention. But as a fellow migraineur I can't possibly sit idly by while the media mischaracterizes migraine disease as a convenient way to make it look like she's incapable of serving as president. While I don't agree with her views, there is absolutely nothing about living with migraine disease that disqualifies her from being our first female president.

It's appalling enough for anyone to be speculating about how incapacitated she might be by this disease based entirely on rumors from former members of her staff. But what's much worse to me is the incorrect characterization of her problem as "stress related episodes". What year is this? 2011? You could have fooled me into thinking it was more like 1911 when migraine was treated as a woman's trouble and weakness suffered by those who couldn't handle the ordinary stresses of every day life.

The most offensive article of them all (the one that "broke" this story and stole her choice to come public at a time of her choosing or not at all) claims she engages in "heavy pill use" as a result of these so-called stress episodes. Hey, guess what? Most chronic migraineurs take a lot of pills. Why the need to make it sound like she's an addict in need of rehab because she takes medications for a chronic medical condition? Are diabetics addicts for needing their insulin and/or oral medications? Of course not. This news outlet (using the term news loosely, of course) has absolutely no idea what medications she is taking. Even if some of them are narcotics, what is wrong with that? Narcotics are there for people in pain, for goodness sake.

You'll probably hear people talking about this given the attention the story is receiving. I encourage you to educate people when you hear them repeating the misinformation that's running wild out there. As migraineurs we know what it's really like to live with migraine disease, what really causes our attacks and what we are capable of accomplishing despite them. Please set the record straight anytime you get a chance. This isn't about politics. It's bigger than that. It's about stigma and a scary tendency in our society to continue to treat diseases experienced predominately by women as a sign of weakness. We know better. We're as tough as they come.

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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.

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