Responding to patient-blaming

Today’s prompt for Migraine and Headache Disorders Blog Challenge is to watch the video, “Hold on” by Wilson Philips and apply it to migraine and headache disorders.

While the song is actually very hopeful and encouraging to those who are struggling, one line stood out in contrast.

You’ve got no one to blame for your unhappiness
You got yourself into your own mess

I got to thinking about how many of us experience this kind of “patient blaming”. Sooner or later it happens to all of us. No matter how supportive our loved ones or doctors, eventually someone will have a problem with how you choose to manage your headache disorder. They will think you are not availing yourself of just the right treatment, eating the right foods, or relaxing enough. In short, they will blame you for your suffering.

How we respond to this judgement can influence us in many ways.

Internalize the message

We can accept that we really are to blame.  If we choose to believe this, then we can fight to correct this “truth”, leading us to try every single treatment option whether it makes sense and without regard for safety.  Or we may simply wallow in self-pity, accepting that we deserve our lot in life.

Shoot the messenger

We can attack the person who places blame.  Depending on the relationship, this may be a tempting option. However, it can also irrevocably damage relationships that could and should be salvaged.  How much better to patiently educate those who judge in ignorance.

Correct the message

That brings me to the next option.  We can offer education. Sharing the truth in a composed manner can go a long way toward dispelling the myths about headache disorders. Unfortunately, some people will never be convinced.  They are stuck in their own beliefs and blind to the facts.  At times it is better not to waste the effort.

Ignore the message

In this case, ignoring the message and messenger is a wise choice.  As a patient advocate, I can get pretty passionate about correcting misinformation. However, knowing when I am wasting my breath is a vital skill.  Having the wisdom to know when, where, and how to share the truth is invaluable.

Prove the message wrong

We can chose to go about our business, quietly leading by example, trusting that those who matter will notice we are not sabotaging our own health.  We become like teflon, letting the accusations roll off us without sticking.


 Have you ever experienced patient-blaming? How did you handle it?


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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