Learning to adapt

Migraines, change, and learning to adapt

This video was adapted from the book, Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson & Kenneth Blanchard. The basic idea is that we all pursue “cheese” (our dreams, goals, achievements) that we think will create happiness and satisfaction. For migraineurs, our “cheese” might be affordable medicine, a good doctor, migraine-free days, effective medicine, fewer side effects, etc. Over time, things change. “Cheese” changes, disappears, or stops working. The video and book offer suggestions on how to successfully cope with change.

Let’s take a look at the essentials as they relate to migraines.

Change happens

The symptoms of migraine can change over time. So can the effectiveness of our preferred treatments. We may need to change doctors for any number of reasons. Medications can be recalled. Shortages occur. New treatments are developed. Insurance coverage can change. Regardless of how much we make like the way things are now, something about migraine treatment will change sooner or later. On the other hand, if nothing seems to be working right now, have a little hope. Change is bound to happen.

Anticipate & Monitor

Expect your migraine pattern, responsiveness to treatment, and medical interventions to change over time. Keep an eye on changes in research, treatments, and in your own migraine pattern & symptoms. Then you will recognize the signals that it’s time to change.

Adapt quickly

So often we are slow to respond because we haven’t paid attention to the changes. Yet because you have been paying attention, you will know when it’s time to make a change. When you get a letter from your doctor announcing his retirement, you won’t procrastinate in finding a new one. When there are shortages of your preferred medication, you won’t hesitate to speak to your doctor about alternatives.

When change happens and we are not prepared to move with it, we can experience a lot of different emotions. We can become frustrated, angry, and even depressed. It is common blame others for the changes. For migraineurs, we can take out our frustrations on our loved ones or our doctors. We may even feel betrayed by those we blame for the change.

So how can we break out of this vicious cycle? According to Johnson & Blanchard, the first step is to stop believing we are entitled to the situation or thing that has just changed. Accept that things have changed and stop wishing for circumstances to return to the way they were. Then start looking for alternatives or find ways to create what it is you want. Your focus is now on the future. That passion will give you the energy you need for the next new treatment, new doctor, or new lifestyle change.


When things change, get moving. Change your behavior and expectations to meet the change in circumstance. Be flexible and assertive. Change requires you to be open to new possibilities. It might also require you to reconsider trying something that failed before. It takes courage to change.

Enjoy it!

Since things will change no matter what, you may as well find reasons to enjoy it. Who knows, maybe this next change will be the one that makes all the difference.

So let’s recap using our ABCs:

ACCEPT the fact that migraine patterns will change. Medications will stop working, give you side effects or get recalled. Doctors will move, quit, and retire. Some will be unable to help you. Things will not always be the same.

BELIEVE that you are in control of your own migraine treatment. Take charge. Educate yourself. Be ready to make changes whenever it is warranted. Always think, “What’s next?”

CAREFUL attention to migraine disorder is absolutely necessary. Become the expert on your condition. By staying alert, you will recognize the early signs that change is about to happen and be ready to respond.

What kinds of changes have you experienced with migraine?
What has it been like adapting to those changes?

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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 Migraine.com 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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