Migraineurs who won't seek help

One of my best friends was at the house this afternoon, talking about a buddy of hers who has frequent, severe headaches (I believe they are related to migraine but don’t know him well so can’t say for sure).  She was lamenting the fact that he won’t be proactive in his treatment.  He has a doctor he doesn’t like, but he refuses to seek out a new one (even with great recommendations from fellow headache sufferers).  He doesn’t take great care of himself, often imbibing a lot of caffeine throughout the day without drinking even half of the water he should be ingesting.

As someone who has found significant relief through lifestyle changes and through the care of very smart, thoughtful doctors, I get a little impatient when I hear about people like the fellow described above.

But then I think about it a little more, and I put on my amateur therapist hat (note:  I am not a therapist so say this half in jest!) to try to figure out what’s going on with the folks who don’t take steps to try to feel better.

One of my theories has to do with hope.  Sure, it doesn’t sound like the guy in my example is very hopeful at first read, but hear me out. We’ll call him “X.”  If X continues to do relatively little to improve his condition, that means a potentially helpful treatment is still waiting in the wings.  He can go on doing what he does every day while knowing that there could very well be a way for him to get to feeling better (and fast!).  He can hope that dramatically increasing his hydration each day and/or going to visit a doctor with an expertise in migraine and headache disease might make him healthier.

But what if these changes do nothing for him? What if he drinks twelve glasses of water a day, cuts down on caffeine, sees a new headache specialist, and still feels just as crappy all the time?

Until X tries out a new method, he can hold out hope that there is a treatment at his fingertips, there for the taking when he wants it. But if he reaches for that treatment and is unsuccessful, he may very well spin into that despair many of us have suffered through, the despair that perhaps there is nothing that can be done to help our poor heads.

Of course this is just a theory.  I have blogged before about friends who won’t be proactive with treatment, and I’ve tried to talk to them to figure out why they won’t seek help.  Sometimes they feel as if their condition isn’t as serious as it needs to be to address the problem with the doctor; sometimes they just feel despondent and hopeless.  And lord knows having a chronic illness can ware your energy levels down, making it nearly impossible to pick up the phone and make an appointment with yet another doctor.

What do you think when you encounter someone (even yourself) who isn’t actively trying to lessen the impact of migraine on his/her life?  Why do you think people with this disease sometimes choose to suffer through migraine episodes without seeing if there’s a treatment method out there?

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