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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Comments

View Comments (8)
  • Gwenny
    5 years ago

    Before I knew that I was a migraineur, I never actually recognized that I was in pain until my husband would say “is there some reason you are being such a b..ch?” That’s when I would suddenly realize that my head was throbbing and one eye was feeling like it was about to pop out of my head…no wonder! These days, I try to recognize the small signs before a migraine becomes full blown, so I can nip it with meds before it gets to that point. Hence, I am a lot nicer! 🙂

  • tucker
    5 years ago

    Yes, I’m usually very understanding and calm and try to put on what I think might even be a social worker voice (I went thru many “I think I want to be this” in college) when I’m at work. But when the migraine brain lasts for days or I’m nauseous for days and weeks on end, even I can lose my cool when someone on the other end of the phone gets snotty with me. And I’ve had my share of “jerk” moments, even if it was after I hung up the phone.

    We work in a “closed” environment in that most of our customers get their products over the phone and we deliver to them. However, we do have some people come in if they need something faster. I have put on my big girl pants and apologized 2 times for my short temper. The customer may not always be right, but that doesn’t mean we need to be ugly about it. I still see one of those people and even though I have no idea what I was a “jerk” about, I will never forget that I did apologize. In fact, I try to go out of my way to be extra nice to her now just to make up for it even though I’m sure it was at least a year or two ago!

  • kathy-phelan-delaurodelauro
    5 years ago

    I can control my temper response as long time migrainuer, however both my son and daughter get them as well and do not respond well to them. Not funny..haha funny, but ironic funny as they are always..mom..how did you do it? Single mom, 2 jobs, sports, etc…and now I chuckle when daughter calls..pissy and can I take baby as has migraine. I usually just get quiet as work.

  • Ann B
    5 years ago

    I don’t know if I’m so much a jerk as I get really tearful and depressed when I have a migraine. And I do isolate as I have been told nobody wants to be around me when I’m such a “downer” and crying all the time. This is happening more and more as I am crossing the line into chronic…I have lost two friends this year over my almost-half-time migraines and my daughter has backed off because I’m “always so sad.” I guess whether mean or sad, the bottom line is it hurts IPRs.

  • Nancy Harris Bonk moderator
    5 years ago

    Hi Ann,

    Have you spoken with your doctor about these feelings of sadness? You don’t have to stay feeling this way, there is help available.

    Depression is often found to be comorbid with migraine. This means they are caused by one another but can occur at the same time. Let me share information on this with you; http://migraine.com/blog/migraine-comorbidities-depression/ and http://migraine.com/blog/migraine-comorbid-depression-brain-volume-research/.

    I hope this is helpful,
    Nancy

  • Nancy Harris Bonk moderator
    5 years ago

    Hi Janet,

    This is SO true! When we are in pain we may be prone to being nasty, which many of us are aware of. I’m not sure what’s worse – being nasty or not being forgiven for being nasty?

    As always, thanks for this piece.

    Nancy

  • simplygourdjus
    5 years ago

    Yes! when I’m in High Pain mode, I do try to keep myself away from people. It doesn’t always work.

  • dmae
    5 years ago

    Hi Janet,
    I become a bit of a migraine-zilla as well. At work it’s difficult because of the need to remain professional. Less is more with what I say and do in those situations. I have a trusted coworker who acts as a kind of buffer until I can get out of there.

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