The Unsympathetic Ones

It wasn't until after college, during my year of AmeriCorps service, that I started talking about my migraine disease more openly. I still remember how surprised I felt each time someone else would say that she also had migraine (or at least knew someone who did).

My former supervisor at Literacy*AmeriCorps took me seriously when I told her that fluorescent lights triggered my headaches--she rolled up all the blinds on the many windows of our meeting room and turned the overheads off without making a big deal out of it. I got less scared of talking about my illness when I realized that, for the most part, people are good at heart and want to help how they can.

My site supervisor, a co-principal at this amazing charter school where I taught, was flexible with my schedule and helped me get some low-light, incandescent lamps for the small, glaringly bright office I shared with the guidance counselor.

But not everyone around me was so patient and sympathetic. My schedule was set so that the guidance counselor and I split out time in the shared office 50-50. I did my best to knock gently and be patient when her meetings ran late and it was my turn to use the room, but I can't say that she was very thoughtful when the tables were turned. Don't get me wrong: she was a kind woman whose company I enjoyed. I just don't think she quite bought my migraine story, and I didn’t feel up to discussing it with her more seriously.

Many were the times she'd burst in the darkened office, flipping the harsh overhead fluorescents on with a loud announcement, "Hi! Schedule says it’s my time now!" During the occasional very sick days I had now and again, I wondered if she noticed that I had all the lights off and that I'd been trying to nap in the pitch dark, head on the desk. She seemed utterly oblivious to my health, so much so it made it feel impossible to even broach the subject with her. How do you ask someone to be more considerate of your health and well-being when she doesn't even acknowledge that anything in the slightest is wrong?

These days I'm grateful to be surrounded by people who are very sympathetic about migraine. If anyone doubts my illness, he knows better than to say anything about it to me!

Has there been anyone in your life who's been particular difficult to deal with in terms of your migraine? What have you done to either work with that person or just know when to let it go?

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