Feelings of alienation and isolation can make life with migraine and other invisible illnesses harder than it has to be, but finding the support we need to feel connected can be daunting at times. Especially when we’re in pain, exhausted, and experiencing mental health comorbidities such as anxiety and depression. Thankfully, there are many places we can go for help.
Local support groups offer a chance to connect in person with people who truly get what we’re going through. We can learn about new treatment options, new specialists in town, and trade stories about area-specific triggers. The groups also give us the opportunity to make friends with other migraineurs who may be able to step in and help us when we need it and whose partners or loved ones may be able to offer a supportive ear to our own caregivers. The groups often meet on a regular basis, though the frequency of the meetings can vary from once a week to once a quarter or so.
To find a group in your area, ask your headache specialist or neurologist if they know of any in town, scan the local newspaper’s calendar announcements, or call your area hospitals and clinics. You may also look to see if there is a current American Council for Headache Education support group in your area.
Yahoo! Groups and Meetup.com also feature many local support groups. Members typically connect in person but use the list serve and/or social media platform as a way to keep in touch. Good places to start searching: http://migraine.meetup.com and http://groups.yahoo.com.
If leaving the house isn’t an option due to pain, dizziness, nausea, exhaustion, or any other migraine symptom, consider looking for support online. (Research shows online support groups have a significant positive impact on quality of life.) Migraine.com has an extensive online community for migraineurs and caregivers featuring polls, reader stories, and discussion forums. It’s an ideal place to share your experiences and ask questions.
Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms also offer an opportunity for support and camaraderie. Consider conducting a search for #migraine or taking a look at the Headache and Migraine Blog Carnival’s Facebook page. The National Headache Foundation also offers virtual support and community options via email and across just about every social media platform used today, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.
Closer to home
When we’re sick and feeling emotionally, mentally, and physically off balance, it can be difficult to remember we have people in our corner. While it is essential to find some form of support from fellow migraineurs (after all, no one else really understands what we go through on a daily basis), it is just as important to reach out to our friends and family. Even if your disease has made it difficult to keep in touch with those closest to you, I encourage you to do so. If you need help strengthening or maintaining relationships impacted by migraine, read Managing Migraines and Relationships.