People In Pain Can Be Jerks

With the high prevalence of migraine in the general population, it should be no surprise that I know several migraineurs. And because I am an outspoken migraine health advocate, I tend to have “in the closet” migraine sufferers “come out” to me pretty frequently, so it’s possible I have more known migraineurs in my friend circles than do most people.

And, generally speaking, my friends with chronic migraine and chronic pain can also get pretty moody now and again. Someone who is usually patient and loving can snap without warning when he is in pain; someone who is a really good listener in most situations can bulldoze you as you speak when she’s feeling sick. Despite my knowing firsthand how pain and illness can affect my mood, I still find myself taken aback from time to time when my fellow sufferers are, if even for a second, less than kind to me.

Then I remember this: we who are in pain can be jerks. When you can’t move your head without feeling it throb, and when you can’t bend over without feeling like you might vomit everywhere, it’s hard to be infinitely calm and generous with your words and time. I have been a bad listener, a conversation bulldozer, and a downright meanie during times of pain—my poor partner tends to bear the brunt of this. And I’ve also been on the receiving end, having people raise their voices at me for little known reason. I suppose that as long as we realize it and try to apologize and recognize that, we can work on the moodiness and snappiness.

Do you ever find yourself being a jerk when you don’t feel good? Have you been treated badly (in either the long or short term) by people who, when it all comes down to it, are just feeling like crap? How do you cope?

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