Migraine is just a headache. Take some ibuprofen & get over it

Ever since I started talking openly about the fact that I am living with migraine disease, I’ve read or heard the same comment (or a riff on it) repeatedly: “People think it’s just a headache, that you should take a Tylenol and get over it.”

But you know what? No one has ever said that to my face—or dared to—and I’m wondering if I’m just extraordinarily lucky in that I have kind, caring, understanding friends and coworkers. Sure, once there was a fellow editor at a work retreat who reportedly rolled her eyes when my boss let the group know that I couldn’t make it to that morning’s meeting due to migraine, but who’s to say what, exactly, she was rolling her eyes at?

But that’s neither here nor there. I want to tell you about this smart, friendly, and totally honest customer I talked with at the bookshop a few weeks ago.

D. comes in pretty regularly and is always friendly and chatty. Some time after the new year, we were alone in the shop and somehow started talking about migraine disease. He actually said the sentence to me that so many of you have heard before, the sentence that I’d never imagined I’d actually hear someone say to my face: “You know, I used to think people were just complaining about migraines. I figured it was just a headache. ‘Just take some Advil,’ I’d think. Until I got one myself.”

I confessed to D. that a, I’d never heard anyone actually admit that he/she believed migraineurs were just being overdramatic and should get over it and that I often wished for one—just one!—migraine to hit all the non-believers.

To my relief, D. has had one and only one migraine (and I hope he’ll never get one again). And I feel grateful that he had that one horrid episode—it was a painful lesson to learn, but through his one day of utter pain and nausea, he learned the lesson that migraine is not just a headache.

Would you wish a migraine on those who deny the disease’s severity? Why or why not?

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.

Comments

View Comments (35)
  • Julie
    6 years ago

    I would wish a migraine on a few of my extended family members because they are the ones who say “it’s just a headache” and “oh, can’t you just take an asprin for that” and I don’t want them to have a small minor migraine I want them to have the full-blown one where they have the aura, aversion to smells, bright lights, loud noises, vertigo, worship the toilet, jackhammer pain behind the eye, pain radiating along the one side of head, behind the ear (oh, enclude the ringing, popping noise in the ear) painful scalp, pain in neck, shoulder and intense head pain that last for a minimun of 48 hours and one that no abortive med will touch it. Then I “dare” them tell me “oh, it’s just a headache take an asprin for it and get on with your life”. I’ve heard it for 25 years and they’ve not been too kind hearted about it. And that would go for some former co-workers who sneared behind my back that said I was using it as an excuse to get out of work when I had to DRIVE myself to the doctor to get an abortive shot to get a ‘required’ Dr. excuse to miss work because I was being descriminated against, because no one else I believe was being required to get a Dr. excuse for missing work for even having the flu, but I had to for having a migraine and they knew I was seeking treatment w/all the specialists I was seeing. So oh yes, I would wish it on some people for an learning experience for sure, and for the ones that deserve to know exactly how it feels.

  • Emily Vandecappelle
    7 years ago

    yeah just one…you know some people use the term migraine as an excuse , that hurts so much if you know what it is and you know that ther liers , I have migraine from when I was 3 years old , now the specialist standing with their back against the wall because they say I’m resistent to avery medication they tried , what now? I’m 21, and have migraine 3 times in a week… could anyone help me? sugestions? thx 🙂

  • Nadine Spaerkeer
    7 years ago

    Ik heb mischien de oplossing voor jou,maar jij moet het wel toelaten,en moest ik van jou zijn…….ga ervoor,je kunt het maar proberen,ik wil gerust mee gaan met jou!!!!!

  • Nikki Myers
    7 years ago

    I most definitely wish that everyone could have just one migraine! I often say that if someone suffered a migraine that to me is on the scale of about 5 pain wise, they would act like I do when my pain level hits above a 10 on the scale. Its because I have such a high pain tolerance level attained over the years and years of chronic migraine.
    So yes – I wish they could all suffer just one. Especially every person ive known that thinks I’m just making excuses to not go out, or call them, or go to class or project meeting, or just hang out in general. No I’m not avoiding you. Suffer one day in my shoes, JUST ONE! and youll never think its just an excuse with me again.
    Honestly when some one tells me “Just take some Ibuprofen and get over it, its just a headache” I want to hit them. Because its a MIGRAINE. In no way shape or form is it just a headache. Over the last few years ive been developing more symptoms and things have been getting worse… Sometime I wonder if I can finish school, they so limit me. I get very antisocial and just want to hide in my room and not deal with people, sounds, sights, smells…..
    (Sorry..Just a rant that I NEEDED to get out. Ive been beyond frustrated lately with my migraines, to the point of breaking down and throwing a pity party…)

  • cudagirl23
    7 years ago

    I know that I would never intentionally wish a migraine on any person, even my worst enemy. And I have had those unfair and unbelieving co-workers, family members, in-laws, friends, etc. that have never had one and do not understand, therefore either one of two things happen – they think I am “faking” it or to treat it like a headache just take an advil I often here. The other worst misunderstanding I get is that I am taking too much “medication” aka narcotics, etc. and they can’t believe I still continue to operate, do things like chores, errands, kids, etc. It is soooooooo frustrating to hear it, see it in their eyes – the prejudice and that feeling of “I don’t believe you” look from co-workers or worse, my in-laws. Those who have had migraines I immediately get empathy or sympathy from them and its like we’re aliens to the others in the room who haven’t had them. I am sometimes relieved though, when I do run into someone that understands and has had them, for they don’t judge, or make snarky comments. For years my mother didn’t say a word about her migraines or that she had one, she put on the brave face and pretend that everything was normal, because she put up with a lot of people who didn’t understand – now years later, people in her life now, understand and support her. I am very fortunate to have her in my life and very lucky to have had someone all along the way be there for me and understand. It is a true test sometimes when you come across those people who do not understand and give you that rolling of the eyes look and such. Thank goodness for awareness and websites like these and stories such as these! Thank you migrainegirl, you are an inspiration!

  • chloedew2016
    7 years ago

    IT IS SO REFRESHING TO KNOW THERE ARE OTHERS WHO FEEL AND ENDURE THE DAILY PAIN AND STRUGGLE I HAVE FOR THE LAST 20+ YEARS. I ESPECIALLY FIND IT DIFFICULT TO EXPLAIN IN THE WORKPLACE HOW HORRIBLE AND DEHIBILITATING MIGRAINES ARE AND THAT THEY ARE NOT A HEADACHE BUT SOMETHING SO UNBELIEVEABLY PAINFUL AND CRIPPLING THAT I CANNOT EVEN TALK DUE TO MY JAW LOCKING UP WHEN I HAVE ONE. I EXPERIENCE DAILY MIGRAINE LINGERING SINCE THE AGE OF 8 AND AT USUALLY RIGHT SIDED MIGRAINES 3-5 DAYS PER WEEK AND ONCE OR TWICE A MONTH A SWITCHOVER HEADACHE THAT LASTS 2_3 DAYS BY SWITCHING FROM THE RIGHT TO THE LEFT ALL THE WHILE MAKING ME COMPLETELY UNABLE TO MOVE. WHEN THIS HAPPENS DURING THE WORKWEEK AND I THEN HAVE TO RETURN TO WORK IT IS IS ANOTHER “TRIGGER” AS IT CAUSES THE APPREHENSION AND TENSION BOTH BEFORE MY RETURN AND FOLLOWING MY RETURN AND HAVING TO DIFUSE ALL THE UNEDUCATED PEOPLE’S COMMENTS AND QUESTIONS. NOT TO MENTION YOU KNOW THEY COULD REALLY GIVE A CRAP

  • Michelle Harris Harmon
    7 years ago

    I am been suffering from migraines for about twenty years now. They are daily at this point–I cannot even work. And, yes, I have had coworkers shoot me looks when I was working and had to leave class early or call in a sub (I was a high school teacher). Yes, again, I would absolutely, wish one migraine on someone who denies the diseases severity, just one. I even told my husband I wish he would get one, not because he is unsupportive but because I want him to know what a migraine actually is, what it actually feels like. I want him to know what I mean when I say that I experienced an aura and why a headache, in my opinion, should not even be mentioned in the same category as migraine.

  • Val Milo
    7 years ago

    Hell yes, ESPECIALLY those who say “take an aspirin and move on”!

  • Melanie Symonds
    7 years ago

    Just one migraine? Sure, absolutely. After all, come on folks, it’s just a migraine. It’s is not that bad! (*wink*) Heck, I’ve had hundreds (thousands?) of attacks and l’m still alive! Most would gain compassion from the experience, but not all. When my migraines became chronic, I had a very good friend(?) tell me, “Maybe if you didn’t focus on them so much you wouldn’t have so many.” Um, yeah, let me try that. Fact was, it was only by “focusing” on them unrelentingly over the course of several years and refusing to be brushed aside by doctor after doctor that I finally got competent treatment for them.

  • Larry Stroud
    7 years ago

    My friends at my former job never once doubted the severity of them. They just wished I didn’t have them at all. I have seen a few people roll their eyes when it’s mentioned, but overall, I guess I have been lucky. I do wish all the non-believer doctors would get one just to see what it’s like.

  • Chris James
    7 years ago

    I’ve often wondered about what people think and have suspected that more than a few co-workers suspect whether or not it’s a legitimate complaint. I feel funny when I have to show up to my desk wearing sunglasses when it’s clearly not needed and people really don’t understand that, but oh well. Whatever helps until the meds kick in.

    Fortunately I’ve got understanding family members though when it happens away from the office.

  • Miss Kim
    7 years ago

    I have had debilitating migraines for over 23 years. Tried every doctor, now Botox. Nothing works. I’m on medication just so i can function. Do I wish a migraine on anyone? Only the person who thinks that “it’s all in my head.”. They need to experience the intense pain for just one day where all you want to do is put your head through a wall to take the pain away. Try living with migraines EVERYDAY sometimes more than two a day, sometimes for four straight days, 24hrs. I would do anything or take suggestions to try something new that may have not been touched on as I am allergic to many of the new migraine medications that are out there. I am not a mean person, just someone who is very tired. Thanks to those of you who understand.

  • Rachel Z
    7 years ago

    I’ve had tons of people ask me why I can’t just “take a pill.” But that’s the least of it. I’ve also had quite a few people suggest, or explicitly state, that perhaps I should try seeing a psychiatrist instead of a neurologist. Another former colleague who is now a friend, thanked me when I handed out some general info from a migraine website at work a few years ago, admitting that prior to that she just believed I was crazy and that my illness was entirely psychosomatic. Once when I went through 2 months of what the highest level migraines and still managed to come into work every day, though admittedly at reduced productivity and with quite a bit of irritability, and after the fact apologized to my boss saying my life had literally been hell for the last two months his response was “come on, don’t exaggerate now.” I should point out that I worked in a VERY small office at the time. My monster in law mostly feels sorry for her son and has told me to “get over it” more than once. Of course she gets very tired extremely easily for no apparent reason, and sees no problem having to lie down several times a day. She also said she understood chronic pain quite well after fracturing her leg. So that’s me on my soapbox for a few minutes. Thanks

  • aewills
    7 years ago

    I also have never had someone say to my face that I ought to take an Advil and get over it. I wonder if this is partly because I frame my discussions of migraine in the context of my very strong unambiguous aura. I have never said “I have to go home, my head hurts,” but have had to say “I have to call for a ride home, because I can’t see.” I once had to ask a coworker to walk me downstairs and open my Advil bottle for me because I could not have navigated on my own, and afterward he was not only sympathetic but very curious what an aura was like.
    I don’t think I’d ever wish migraine pain on someone–people understand pain, even if they underestimate its severity. But I have often wished others could experience an aura, so that they’d understand how literally impossible it is to do anything (including drive myself home) when the world is a fractured array of flashes and blindspots.

  • marionC
    7 years ago

    I had a friend who never understood and told me too just put on a smile, skirt and some makeup and get over it. He is no longer a friend and oh, sadly I do wish he would get a real whopper of a migraine that lasted for 4 days like mine do.

  • Linda Kurth Turner
    7 years ago

    I would definitely would wish migraines on some people. And even more than one. I’ve had some people tell me they have had 1 migraine. Yours must be due to stress. They are very excessive (the days you miss from work). If they would only understand that we don’t really want to miss work, and that we are totally responsible people, not someone who fakes illness just to stay home.

  • Danielle Howell
    7 years ago

    I have chronic migraines and I have heard the comments before from the people believing that you just want sympathy. I have to say that I would not wish a migraine on anyone even if they do not understand. I have had them since I was 8 and am well into my 30s now I do not expect understanding from everyone, it would be nice but how could I wish this on anyone else?

  • Georgia Slesinger
    7 years ago

    I’m ashamed to say that I do wish that sometimes. Not chronic migraines like I have, but that people like that would suffer through just one severe one so they could understand what migraineurs go through.

  • Danielle Turney
    7 years ago

    The old saying goes; until you have walked a mile in someone else’s shoes…No one knows what a migraine feels like or what we go through until they themselves have suffered from one. I have heard those comments; take something or just don’t think about it, it is all in your mind. Then some of those comment makers have commented me back after they have suffered from a migraine and have apologized for not understanding.

  • Laura Price
    7 years ago

    Yes I would wish ONE migraine on anyone who doesn’t believe in Migraines – especially all the doctors who don’t believe or think we are exaggerating – how soon do you think it would take for science to find a safe and permanent cure?

  • Laura Price
    7 years ago

    yep – double whammy – literally a real pain : (

  • Renee Summers Klein
    7 years ago

    Same applies too often for fibromyalgia, unfortunately and having the two together… Still, I’m grateful for an understanding doctor and kind husband! Hugs…

  • Bonnie Stone Russell
    7 years ago

    No, I would not wish migraines on anyone. That certainly would not help my pain, probably would add to it because it would be so wrong a thing to wish! The pain is mine to deal with and I thank God for those helping me…

  • Barbara Collins
    7 years ago

    Secretly, you wish people had an idea all that it encompasses beyond a bad headache. But, no, don’t wish it on anybody.

  • Sue Ketchum Ramer
    7 years ago

    Some times you just haft to.

  • Linda Burdette-Hutchinson
    7 years ago

    I’ve had a few and sure don’t want any more. I admire how you force yourself to function during a migraine!

  • Carolyn Lebl
    7 years ago

    I would not wish migraines on anyone. I get two to three a week on top of the constant pain on the right side of my head. People who don’t get them don’t understand how disabling it is.

  • Julie Johnson
    7 years ago

    No – I absolutely would not wish migraines on my worst enemy. It is an awful, awful, awful thing.

  • Linda Castellano
    7 years ago

    No of couse I would not wish a migraine on anyone, however I wish there were more people like D. around. For all those people who think it is that simple just take tylenol and lay down have absolutely have NO clue what a headache feels like and a migraine they would freak out! And never under- estimate the power of a miraine again!

  • Debbie Dobbins
    7 years ago

    I don’t think I would wish any illness onto others let alone Migraines. Some people I know, the non-sympathetic in particular, I just don’t think they have what it takes to handle a mild migraine let alone the shag nasty ones that I get.

  • Jenny Wright
    7 years ago

    I have to say that it makes me very mad when somone would say that. I have had chronic migraines now for five years, and it’s not that simple. If what the Doctor is writing is not working for me then Ibuprofen or anything over the is not going to work for me. There are many different types of migraines you can get and for different reasons. At the end of the article it says would you wish this on anyone. I can say hell no I would not want to rob anyone of one hour of what I have to go through.

  • Anne K Zimmerman Reed
    7 years ago

    I did not talk about my Migraines for years….but now that I have an official diagnosis (hemiplegic migraine) I have been writing about it in blog posts, even documenting in pictures what it does, in the hopes that people will understand- not just migraine, but the different types, and how it affects all aspects of your life.

  • Anne K Zimmerman Reed
    7 years ago

    and No, I absolutely would not wish migraine on anyone.

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