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Migraineurs- The new Superhero?

Migraineurs- The new Superhero?

It’s my nature to look at life’s glass as half full, and yet with migraines, it’s easy to get stuck looking at the negatives. There are so many negatives, after all. It is for this reason that I’m grateful for the rare moments when I gain a refreshing perspective on the potential positives related to migraine.

A colleague recently asked me to describe how migraines work. I explained how the nervous systems of migraineurs are more tightly wound than others: lights are brighter, sounds are louder, and smells are more fragrant.  I was describing this in a fairly negative tone- that these heightened senses make for a more difficult existence.

She thought for a moment and asked, “Are you psychic? I mean, it sounds like superpower stuff to me. You can see more clearly, hear more powerfully, smell more strongly. All of your senses are more finely attuned and more powerful. How are you making this work for you?”

I loved this. I am thankful to her for turning my negative to a positive. Is it possible that all of us migraineurs are a breed of Superhero? I’ve amused myself thinking of the many ways that our overdriven senses could be used for the good. We could alert people to smoke far before there’s fire. So sensitive to pressure changes, we could be storm predictors. Hearing the smallest of sounds, we could be called “SuperHearo”.  With our phenomenal sensitivity to light, we could scan the horizon for the smallest glimmer- perhaps rescuing ships lost at sea. While I’m still working on the ability to leap small buildings in a single bound, l believe we are on to something bigger here.

It’s an interesting notion:  taking the hardest parts of migraine and flipping them into a positive. An overarching question, perhaps, is whether or not migraines, even with all they take from us, can ultimately have a positive impact on our lives– resulting in our becoming more powerful people.

For me, it’s been a long journey to find even a single gift that migraines have to offer.

That said, the process of doing so has given me strength.  Proactively looking for lessons that lie in the experience of daily pain rather than feeling repeatedly victimized helps me keep my chin up and stay engaged.  And while we can all agree that I can’t fly, I have felt great power in the way I’ve chosen to respond to the biggest challenge of my life.

By taking away my career, and the many related ways that I once defined myself, migraines forced me to reorient myself and my priorities. After spending some years quite bitter about this, I came to see that it is how I live, rather than what I do, that will have the most powerful impact in my lifetime.  For me, it is about treating others with compassion and respect. It is about choosing to love with my whole heart. By taking so very much away, migraines helped me slow down and deeply appreciate what I do have. So, on the topic of Superheroes and superpowers, I suppose I’ll confess I don’t have any verifiable ones. I will say, however, that by focusing on the positive traits I’ve earned rather than focusing on all that I’ve lost, I see my life’s glass as overflowing. And to me, that’s superpower enough.

Do you believe that migraines hold any gifts for you? Are you a migraine Superhero? If so, what are your powers?

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.


  • katsock
    3 years ago

    It is funny that you talked about predicting storms as my doctors mentioned that the first time I saw him. He said that some in the field were starting to believe that the genetic part has to do with that person being a help to the tribe back when we still roamed as hunter/gathers. Just think your tribe as someone that can tell you maybe 12-48 hours before a large storm hits and you can find shelter and not be caught out in the wild. It would have to be an advantage to the tribes survival. So if we want to look at it like that we are actually the strong ones in the group that everyone else should be paying attention to. 🙂

  • Sharebear
    3 years ago

    Thank you, @hollybee, for this post. I started to look at my migraines and the symptoms that go along with them as “super-powers” myself just back in this past October. I’ve dealt with chronic complex migraines with aura for 3 years now, and I also have Complex PTSD. Thanks to working with my therapist doing a few sessions of EMDR therapy for the Complex PTSD, I began to see that some of the aura symptoms were trauma related (I would hear screaming and see flashes of images during migraine auras). Since October, I’ve begun to process the trauma on my own during migraines and then talk with my therapist about it during our sessions…so even though the pain REALLY sucks, I am finding healing from my past. I am actually going to be speaking at a women’s retreat this fall on how to walk through letting go of painful memories and how to find healing. So I have found that one of my migraine “super-powers” is finding and bringing healing to others hearts.
    Also, I have a sort of gifting where I can sense when there is either positive or negative energy around a person and I can sometimes, during a migraine prodromal phase, see dark and/or light energy around a person as well as feel and sense their emotions. In those moments I pray for those people. What’s difficult for me is I tend to pick up those emotions when in a migraine state because my defenses are down. Then with being so empathic I begin to feel too much of what people are feeling and I become overloaded with emotion. However, that gets me thinking about all of my own emotions from my past traumas from my childhood (I’m an adult survivor of childhood abuse), and I begin feeling all of those emotions…Then, when the migraine hits, somehow, the pain of the migraine short-circuits the overload of emotions and I am able to functionally process all of those emotions, which is quite interesting. So, I guess another “super-power” of the migraine. All in all, I have learned that this is my life, and I’ve just got to make the best of it.

  • Meaghan Coneys moderator
    3 years ago

    Hi Sharebear – Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us. I just wanted to send you a quick message and say that we so appreciate you. Sometimes it can be challenging to be such an empath and so attuned to others’ energies, especially when connected our past. It seems like you are really taking care of yourself. I am happy to hear you have found a path to healing. Please continue to reach out when needed. We love hearing from you. Have a lovely day. Warmly, Meaghan ( Team)

  • Diane101010
    3 years ago

    Great article. I am psychic in several ways. Over the years, I’ve heard stories of psychics who pay a physical toll because of their “gifts.”

    IMHO the hardest thing to deal with is being an empath. Imagine feeling the emotions of another person, or a large crowd. If my shields are down because I’m not feeling well, I’m overwhelmed by emotions that aren’t mine. And while I’m aware they are not my emotions and anxieties, it doesn’t stop the now triggered migraine.

    I’ve read that hearing things that aren’t there – is a rare type of aura. For me, these aren’t an aura. My normal includes hearing protective warnings, or etheric music that doesn’t exist here on Earth, etc.

    I don’t dare talk to my neurologist for fear of being labeled. Luckily, my counselor understands, as “gifts” run in her family also.

  • Colleen Meegan
    3 years ago

    Diane, you are so right! I feel the same way, but never would I tell anyone for fear of peoples’ judgemental behaviors.

  • vmkrause
    3 years ago

    I think your friend may be on to something. I am 69 and have had migraines since age 13. Even though there are stories of psychic experiences among the women on my mother’s side of the family (including my mother), I thought until my mid-forties that that was not going to be anything I would experience. Not too long after my husband died, I had my first psychic experience. It was peaceful and not scary in any way. Occasionally, I would experience Deja’s vu. As time went on, I had a few more including a couple of negative experiences. I have read books that tell of serious psychics having terrible headaches after one of their psychic experiences is over. They are completely drained. My brain seems to be overly sensitive to many everyday exeriences, and I will get terrible migraines when they are over. Who knows whether psychic experiences play a part. I just know when I’ve been given a message to never doubt it. It is always correct.
    On another subject, one of my doctors wants me to go to a hospital for three days to be weaned off drugs by being injected with ergotamines. Has this worked for anyone? I’m currently taking morphine and Fioricet which have kept me out of the ER for three or four years. Thank you for this forum.

  • Ellen H
    3 years ago

    Hi, I was on Migranal, which is ergotamine + caffeine, for a short while. The side effects I experienced included insomnia and migraine. Every person is different, but you should know what else might be in those injections.

    I was also on Fiorinal for a short while. It also contains caffeine. For the past thirty years now, I have had to be very careful how much caffeine I ingest, so I try to avoid caffeine at all costs. Though completely eliminating chocolate is almost impossible!!

    For pain, I am allowed Stadol nasal spray, one very small bottle each month. It is an opioid. At the very least I can relax for a few days each month. My migraines are constant/chronic.

    My other medications include Restoril and Flexeril. Restoril lets me sleep each night. And Flexeril calms down the muscle spasms so I can sleep.

  • dusthim
    3 years ago

    Very eloquent post. Sometimes I am in denial about just how much migraines affect my day to day life, i.e. work situation, canceling appointments or dates, etc. As to the Super Powers, I am a Psychic with 35 years experience, and I believe I have had Migraines that long, for, as a child, I remember having to lie down in a dark room for hours, but neither myself or parents ever diagnosed it. Anyway, maybe my great Psychic Sensitivity and Migraines are linked. I would like a scientist to do Research on this.

  • Marci
    3 years ago

    Hollybee, thank you for providing a positive, but realistic perspective. I too, have learned to slow down and appreciate the people and things around me more than I probably would otherwise. I have moments of sadness, but those are short compared to the times I try to do my best, and not become discouraged by limitations. There are so many people who live with migraines, with varying impact. Ultimately, compassion and love for yourself and others, is what wins the battle; with or without superpowers 🙂

  • Cawalla
    3 years ago

    This is a very nice positive spin for us migraineurs. I’ve lways been a superhero fan and most of them do have a darker side and a migraine is a very darker side. My husband has always been in awe with my hearing ability. I can hear things that most people don’t notice. The light sensitivity was definitely a challenge at first, especially bare bulbs & florescent lightning. So now I have a collection of caps & stylish hats that I wear to work and take everywhere I go, so I’m not vulnerable. It has really worked wonders for me. I still have them from time to time but at least the lights are not causing them anymore. I guess the hats are like my Superhero Outfit! People are starting to know me by my hat style, my favorite is the fedora.

  • Julie
    3 years ago

    I have often tried to think of ways to make my super-sensitive sense of smell into a superpower. I’ll admit I tend to get stuck at the ‘but then I’m incapacitated by the thing I’m smelling.’ It’s helped me figure out that I can smell my neighbour’s fabric softener through my own kitchen vent, but there’s still nothing I can do about the fact that it leaves me unable to breathe in my own kitchen, you know? So I’m glad to hear you’ve been able to put it to good use, SleepyBri!
    Your lovely article, hollybee, reminded me of a book I read a few years ago – A Brain Wider Than The Sky by Andrew Levy. As part of his own migraine journey, the author traces historical figures – particularly famous artists and writers – who are now believed to have been migraineurs and argues that there is a likely connection between their creativity and migraines. From what I remember, it’s a lovely read and a compelling notion. (I will admit that I was thoroughly caught in the worst of a chronic migraine period when I read it, so if I’m remembering some of it incorrectly, I’m going to blame it on the part of migraines that are the opposite of the superpowers.) At the very least, certainly most of us migraineurs must indeed possess the superpower of compassion in addition to possible super- blood hound tracking, or weather forecasting abilities.

  • SleepyBri
    3 years ago

    This current migraine episode from hell, no total response to relpax and now I’ve used my limit for this episode. With my eyes, they become very unfocused without glasses. So, since this seems to be hanging around, I figure I should go to our local art museum and pop my glasses of. Much more abstract art, and I can get through the place twice as fast

  • SleepyBri
    3 years ago

    I already do this! I’ve called the heightened senses my “superpowers” for quite some time.
    Already sniffed out the source of the persistent moldy smell in my work building (rubber backed mud mats on concrete that couldn’t drain.) Getting rid of those also reduced my migraine triggers, as I have an allergy to that type of mold.

    Also found out who’s car alarm kept going off right around my mid morning snack… the instructor from two buildings over would put his car faub in his pocket during break, and hitting it against his desk, setting his own alarm off. He stopped having to replace his battery! (But I sure miss that back up reminder

  • RecipeRenovator
    3 years ago

    I love taking a positive view of any chronic illness. Thanks for this. For me, being diagnosed with migraines has created an entirely new career direction… I’m writing a migraine diet book and becoming a certified health and wellness coach.

  • dusthim
    3 years ago

    I have identified a whole slew of foods as triggers, but sometimes even when I don’t eat any, I still get the migraine next day. (For me, it usually takes between 20-24 hours to feel the affect of trigger foods.

  • Joanna Bodner moderator
    3 years ago

    Hey there RecipeRenovator,

    This is wonderful to hear!!! Managing the cards you have been dealt in such a positive manner and proactively turning them to help others is remarkable! You most certainly do have a wonderful & positive attitude. We would love to hear more about your journey with migraine and how you have managed to take these positive steps in writing a diet book and becoming a certified health and wellness coach despite living with this chronic condition. It’s very inspiring. If you ever have a few moments and want to share your story, feel free to visit and tell us a bit more. Wishing you all the best in this new career path and thank you especially for being part of our community.

    Take care,
    Joanna ( Team)

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