Michele Bachmann News Accidentally Reveals Hidden Truths

The dichotomy of the recent ‘news’ hype and spin regarding Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s Migraine Disease has revealed some unsavory truths. You might be surprised what those truths really are…

Society’s opinion on Migraine Disease and Migraine patients is now in full view of us all – patients, caregivers/supporters and non-Migraineurs alike. Gone are the hushed comments and sly glances. People who are uneducated about Migraine don’t care to take the time learn about them, yet now feel freed to comment and judge the experience of patients everywhere and at any time. Physicians and nurses who are not Migraine literate feel free to “educate” the public with old or incorrect information, and because they are medical personnel society believes them without question.

Personal judgments – no matter how uneducated – used to be kept private, but are now being brought into the daylight with little if any apologies. Because Americans who consider themselves journalists wrote it, citizens believe it and feel it is then appropriate to talk about it however they choose. Right or wrong has ceased to have merit. Instead, the personal struggles that Migraineurs deal with is now fodder for assumptions, comments, discussions, arguments and even laughter by those with an agenda they wish to further.

I am upset because society tolerates – even encourages – this kind of sensationalism without regard for anyone that might be hurt in the process.

Who is being hurt besides Michele Bachmann? All of us, especially Migraineurs.

First, with 37 Million Migraineurs in the US, do you think we aren’t hearing the insults? Do you really think we are not keeping very close track of who is saying what and how they are saying it? Do you not think that we take this personally? Here’s a truth – we do.

Secondly, it is this perpetuation of outdated information, stigma, insinuations and outright lies which keeps Migraineurs from being able to get appropriate medical treatment, support and understanding from physicians, friends and family that allow us to live our optimal lives. In the end, this can literally cost people their lives and their livelihoods. Yes, there is much at stake here, much more than someone will see at first glance.

Another truth which is surfacing is how evidently that society has forgotten the difference between a Journalist and a Blogger…

A Journalist’s job is to seek out and report the complete facts of a story. Nothing more, nothing less. A journalist who says he/she is out to change the world is not a journalist. That person has an agenda and is using it. Do not be fooled.

My job as a Blogger is to mix journalism with observation, experience and opinion. I most definitely have an agenda. My purpose is to educate, advocate and support as well as to generate thoughtful conversation that will hopefully lead toward a better world for all of us as Migraineurs. I always finish a piece and say to myself – “Okay, prove me wrong”. In this manner I try to provide more than one perspective for you to consider. Well, today may be a little different 🙂

What makes me sad is that I am not just writing today about shameful uneducated individuals who choose to purposefully hurt others in the name of journalism and politics by using insinuating and insulting language and half truths, but that I am seeing the same thing happen within the Migraine community at large.

This is what I see:

I see disabled chronic Migraineurs angry because Ms. Bachmann tells the world that her Migraine attacks won’t compensate her ability to function as Commander in Chief. They feel that she should tell the world how debilitating they assume her attacks are, and what a horrible, life changing disease Migraine truly is. How our lives have been stolen from us and will never be the same. How we can’t think, or talk, or function and end up in the hospital with heavy narcotics that won’t work for us. How we lose jobs and can’t work. How our families suffer, relationships suffer… how we suffer and some choose instead to die because their torment is so terrible and no one can or will help them no matter where they search. We want her to talk about things like aphasia, Alice in Wonderland Syndrome, paralysis and stroke. We are human, so we assume that Ms. Bachmann’s experience is the same as our experience and we want the world to know that this is a very serious condition worthy of understanding and sympathy, research and help.

I see those who are not disabled by their disease angry because they don’t want to lose their jobs as a result of occasional or less severe Migraine attacks. They see the insinuations of 200 yr old hysteria and want the world to know that they are strong and able-bodied despite their disease… they can do anything any other person can do (and if they’re women…. backwards!) They are incensed that just because they sometimes have Migraines, they are being unfairly judged as disabled, inadequate, frail or somehow unworthy of pursuing whatever in life they choose to pursue. They’re mad because they don’t want their lives and livelihoods unfairly taken from them too!

I see non-Migraineurs being led like lambs to the slaughter. I live on a farm and know a herd when I see it. People close their eyes to the truth because it takes too much work to find it, and it’s too much fun to play with the misinformation. I see passionate people who are involved in politics finding and using any perceived difference or weakness they can find – real or imagined – because they want to win, no matter the cost, to the person or others like her. I see passionate people who are involved politically trying to put blinders on the lambs because it is easier than talking about more difficult issues at hand… or the truth.

What is the truth?

The truth is that Migraine is a neurologic disease. There are hundreds of neurologic diseases out there and millions of people living with them and functioning – yes – even in places of power and government, including presidents. Ms. Bachmann happens to be one of those in a place of power. But folks, no matter your political affiliations, you have to stop and think – she must have been pretty capable to get where she is in the first place. Maybe someone should ask her if that has changed? To my knowledge, no one as yet has.

The truth is that no two Migraineurs are the same. Migraine is a spectrum as varied as a rainbow. Attacks can range from barely noticeable to (rarely) stroke and death. Most of us fall somewhere in-between. Some Migraineurs never miss a day of work. Others haven’t been able to hold a job in years. Some Migraineurs are disabled during their attacks by abnormal neurological functions such as the inability to speak or see or think. Most others do not. To assume that someone’s attacks are the same as ours does everyone a great disservice. Has anyone asked Ms. Bachmann about her particular symptoms?

Migraineurs often take medicines to prevent their attacks. This is how we gain good management and control of our lives. If something gets out of hand, we go to the doctor. (I went to the doctor recently for a kidney infection too) Some doctors can give us the medicine we need to abort an attack in the office. Sometimes, especially if we’re out of town or our doctor doesn’t carry the medicine we need, we have no choice but go to the ER because that is where the medication is, not because we are dying. If we’re in the middle of an attack, quiet and low lights are normal and helpful for nearly every one of us as sensitivity to those things are hallmarks of our disease.

We have triggers that can sometimes set the stage for an attack. Triggers range from riding in an airplane or other travel, to foods we eat, or not getting enough sleep. A non-Migraineur will often associate an attack with stress because that is what society has been erroneously taught “causes” a “headache” – they will not notice the trigger that is ultimately responsible because they don’t know what a Migraine trigger is.

The truth is that it is unfair for any of us as individuals to project our own condition – healthy or Migraineur – on anyone else. Our experience is ours alone. Ms. Bachmann’s is hers alone. I believe that whether she can stand the stress of the position she seeks will soon be known, as the rigors of a campaign must be tremendous and trigger-laden.

Perhaps, like me you’re sick of seeing the perpetuation of stigma and misinformation. If so, please take heed: Migraineurs need to get out of their chairs and be a part of the solution to the problem of a horribly mis-informed society. We are the ones with the most to lose, and the most to gain. If we don’t get to the business of educating non-Migraineurs… who will?

“What we’re saying today is that you’re either part of the solution, or you’re part of the problem.” Eldridge Cleaver

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


View Comments (39)
  • Angela Glad
    7 years ago

    Well written and well described…

  • Sherry Morgan Ledford
    8 years ago

    I feel like the very few statements she has made, make her look like she is minimizing migraine disease and making my chronic migraines look less believable to people that already judge me – maybe that’s just me? Also, with her already being in Congress, I feel she has done a disservice to her constituents by not speaking out about her migraines before and fighting for more funding for research and new treatments. If anyone know that she has done this, please correct me – I would really like to be wrong on that one!

  • cynthjewel
    8 years ago

    @Sharon, I agree. Michele Bachmann was given that chance to speak up for all of us, migraine sufferers, but she, instead, masked the truth. I am not personally in favor of Michele Bachmann’s running for President, but I do not want to tolerate the way she was attacked because of her migraines. Migraine sufferers exert so much effort to make themselves productive and competetive even in the midst of an attack. Yes, we experience so much pain, dizziness, etc., but there are remedies, prescriptions, lifestyle changes that might help. But, when the pain comes around, we can not deny, that we do have bouts of depression, anger, short tempers, but most of us work hard at our jobs, probably 10 times more than a person who doesn’t suffer from any pain. Credit has to be given to all migraine sufferers who overcome their condition by working hard at dealing with it day in and day out. I have been experiencing long frequent migraines that could be related to hormone fluctuation. It is very difficult to cope with it, but I am coping and I do not want to resign myself to the attitude that, I am helpless or why it happens to me. I have accepted it since the first time I had my mentruation and I will continue to accept it and work on it as I enter menopause.

  • Karen Stanley Haack
    8 years ago

    They tried to kick sami out of school because of her migraines….The teachers (most of them) would not work with her. They do not understand how horrible these attacks are. Sami would be out of commission for weeks at a time…..Migraines are horrible. Migraines are a disability.

  • Cathy Frost
    8 years ago

    I agree with Chris – Could not have worded this any better. This is so true. I only hope that people start to open their eyes about this topic, but the truth is, there are people who just don’t try – they do not educate themselves about their spouse, friend or employee. I have heard the ignorant comments that make me so angry that I feel like I have to defend myself – I should not.

  • Abigail Bristow
    8 years ago

    love this article I couldn’t have said it better you are so well spoken and you have me pegged exactly right I am angry and frustated by all of this and people who don’t have them don’t understand what it’s like to not be able to trust what your eyes are telling you or even worse when you are trying so hard to tell someone something ( ie in the er or drs. office or even your spouse) and you can’t talk and nothing makes sense. this is especially hard for me as I am a talker for sure..I don’t think that if you don’t have migraines or you haven’t been to school for it and have good accurate info you just shouldn’t speak on the subject. I am tired of being told it’s not a big deal it’s just a headche etc… thank you Ellen for saying what I could not. I really love this site for just all your posts and all the helpful info you adn all the great people at migraine.com bring together. it has proven invaluable to my treatment with doctors and even with my husabdn it really helps him better understand my difficulties. anyway I am going on and on I just want to say thank you again for all that you and everyone else on here does it really makes me not feel so alone in this fight.
    talk at you later <3 U <3 abby.

  • Vicki Gewe
    8 years ago

    This is a great article with many salient points. My only concern about Bachman’s situation is that she says her migraines come two to three days a week. To be diagnosed with cdh, you only need 15 days a month of headache. She comes awfully close. Granted, so far she has been able to function, but migraines can escalate when they are already bad. Pain memory is a real concern, where the brain gets so used to pain that it forgets how not to hurt. I also want to know why she isn’t on a preventive. If she takes imitrex for each migraine, then she’s also at risk for rebound!

  • Sharon Alexander
    8 years ago

    This is what’s known as a “teachable moment” Michele Bachmann has an significant opportunity to raise awareness and understanding of migraine. Instead, she has chosen to minimize and trivialize her condition. This approach benefits no one. I have read article after article regarding Michele Bachmann’s migraines, but this is the one that I will print, save and forward. Thank you.

  • Ellen Schnakenberg
    8 years ago

    Sharon, I am honored <3

  • Chris Purdy
    8 years ago

    Don’t think I could’ve put it any better. During a previous employ went home with an attack and was off quite a few days. When I went back in my boss tried giving me a warning. The conversation started I know a bit about these migraines. Oh do you I replied. Iv never heard so much drivel come out of someone in my life. Consequently I verbally hung drawn and quartered her and thoroughly enjoyed myself doing it. don’t mess with a bear with a very very very sore head amongst other things.

  • Pen Ort
    8 years ago

    Good article. One problem, those less effected (as I once was) manage to get on with their lives to a degree and do not take to the streets. When later, like me, they are chronic, and they would like to shout out and be more proactive, they are too disabled to do it….THAT is what we need to work on, somehow, I believe. Ask not for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee”.

  • Danielle Turney
    8 years ago

    I have suffered for 26 yrs and family members would tell me to just think about something else and the pain will go away. Guess what it doesn’t work that way, I survive mostof my days in a blacked out bedroom. I have been on ss disability since 2006, due to the constant pain I also suffer from depression. Anyhow, the only people or persons that should be giving information pertaining to migraines are those who suffer from them. Only we truly understand what another migraineurs feels; the pain and the lack of understanding of those who don’t suffer. Those who don’t suffer from migraines have no clue of our actual pain. I don’t want sympathy, I just want more research done and for others to know that we actually have a real disease.

  • Tracey Wilson
    8 years ago

    Fantastic – my inbox is full of articles on this subject and I have been shaking my head all day – but this one should be applauded – I do hope you send it to every PR agent and newspaper in the states – the truth should be told 🙂

  • Tracey Wilson
    8 years ago

    If the system works the same as it does here – just email it to the news desk of the big papers and then local ones will pick it up from them 😉

  • Ellen Schnakenberg
    8 years ago

    Well, I’m not quite sure how to do that, but I’m certainly glad you agree and think so!

  • Riley Morgan
    8 years ago

    A MUST read! “What we’re saying today is that you’re either part of the solution, or you’re part of the problem.” Eldridge Cleaver.

  • Sharon
    8 years ago

    This is what’s known as a “teachable moment”. Michele Bachmann has an significant opportunity to raise awareness and understanding of migraine. Instead, she has chosen to minimize and trivialize her condition. This approach benefits no one. I have read article after article regarding Michele Bachmann’s migraines, but this is the one that I will print, save and forward. Thank you.

  • Dee Holmes
    8 years ago

    The news had no chance to do anything but rapidly go straight down hill (more like over a cliff) and take commentary and opinion with it once one of the “journalists” wrote about her “migraine demons”. I’m still not sure if that was a reference to Ms. Bachmann’s beliefs (or at least about how SOME Christians view illnesses, esp. brain-based ones), an odd view on medicine, or that her migraines and pain meds were a personal “demon” to fight (akin to the idea of “monkey on her back”). Ms. Backmann didn’t help much by posting her doctor’s letter and especially not one that included (vague?) details about treatment. That’s something she shouldn’t have even needed to think of doing. Either she’s capable or not. Seems to be it would have been more appropriate to get a good migraine expert to explain what migraines ARE and how, like most other illnesses, there’s a wide spectrum among those with the condition where some manage OK with it (in some cases even managing with little or no medication) and others are chronically (and rather constantly) disabled by it with little or no help from any currently known treatment. Ugh. It’s like they’ve slung mud at her – and us – and unfortunately many with and without migraines are slinging it back at her, those with migraines and the “journalists”. I’ll just say ugh again…

  • Louise M. Houle
    8 years ago

    Thanks Ellen for this thoughtful and insightful post. You are so right. We cannot assume how she lives with and manages her chronic migraines. Just through our local support group I see such a range of experiences – from people who are disabled by their migraines (sometimes temporarily) to those who work full time and raise lots of kids! Some of us have multiple or co-morbid conditions which complicate management; some do not respond well to medications or are refractory to all treatments; just as others respond very well to meds or other treatments and have near to no trouble aborting or managing attacks… Thanks for reminding us to not generalize or make assumptions.

  • Mary Corral
    8 years ago

    Yes, you are right! I’m glad we are starting to try and understand this disease! Its not easy to live with.

  • Mary Corral
    8 years ago

    YES!! its very hard to live w/migraines. bueno no tienes vida..y muchas personas no saben comprender…que es una enfermedad neurologica…es dificil. 🙂

  • Milly Amaya
    8 years ago


  • Angie Phillips
    8 years ago

    Well done. AS always. Actuaally this id the most balanced thorough commentary o n the topic of Migraines with respect to Bachmann’s presidency I have heard.

  • Bianca Bradley
    8 years ago

    You are spot on on the difference between a journalist and a blogger. Heck, I wish you would write something on the ethics of what a journalist is supposed to do. I’m tired of seeing journalism dumbed down to sensationalist news. We are to report the news, not spin it to have others take our opinion as fact.

  • Nancy Williams
    8 years ago

    Thank you this article was marvelous, it hit home. I have been disabled since 8/2007 and it is hard.

  • Betsy Blondin
    8 years ago

    Very well said, Ellen! Everyone should read this and remember also that these poor aspects of journalism not only cause harm to those of us with migraine disease, but also to society as a whole.

  • Beth Patterson-Grinavic Kiessling
    8 years ago

    Hear, Hear. I’ve had migraines for 30 years. They have had many frequencies and facets over the years. 7 years ago I applied for SS Disability and now receive it. It is a hard disease to explain to anyone, especially husbands and kids. They don’t have it, they don’t quite get it. They can see the pain, but not the cause and they can’t help, which frustrates them so they take a step back and just watch, waiting for you to ask them to do something. Then not only are you in pain, you feel guilty because your family is in pain watching you in pain. It’s a vicious cycle. New medications are coming out all the time. Hopefully one will work for me.

  • Beverly Sarchet
    8 years ago

    A very informed, well written article. Thank you so much! I have had migrianes most of my life. and have been on Propranolol for over twenty years, it helps tremendously, but nothing stops the AURA, and to me, that is the debilitating part!

  • Desi Jem Barkell
    8 years ago

    thank you for this post. well said.

  • Linda Barham Nabors
    8 years ago

    Well said. Excellent article, Thank you.

  • Nancy Joey Lencki
    8 years ago

    Thank you Ellen…You speak the Truth…what you spoke of, needed to be said! ~~ Migraines~~ Very misunderstood by so Many….. I am a Migraine sufferer over 30 yrs. now….My Hope is that , this is read by ALL!

  • Kelly Trowbridge
    8 years ago

    Exellent article Ellen! Well said, I hope everyone will read this!

  • Emily Toft Skrypek
    8 years ago

    I wish everyone would read this. Well stated. Thank you, Ellen!

  • Karen Manchester Pontrelli
    8 years ago

    There’s so much here that needed to be said. Excellent article!

  • Barbara Collins
    8 years ago


  • Billy Donahue
    8 years ago

    Thanks Barb, I agree too.

  • Lynn Twohey
    8 years ago

    Excellent article.

  • Carolyn Nelson Doherty
    8 years ago

    Very true Ellen. Very true. Good job.

  • Donna Overholser
    8 years ago

    well stated, Ellen.

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