Woman experiencing a migraine with ice pack and abortive medication dreams of herself eating an ice cream cone

How I Bribe My Migraines

When I became a parent, there were things I swore I'd never do. Like I'd never feed my kid pizza for lunch and then again for dinner or wear the same outfit for a week straight. Of course, both of those instances have happened — more than once. But neither of them can top "The Bribe." This parenting gimmick gets dusted off in emergency-type situations. So, for example, to avoid tantrums at important dinners, I've heard myself say to my son, "If you can make it through, we'll go get ice cream later." The kicker is, "The Bribe" works every time. But who knew it would work with my migraines.

How do bribes work with migraine?

As a mom, I understand why the quick bribe works on my little guy: It gives my son something positive to look forward to when he's positively not looking forward to the situation at hand. As a migraineur, the principle is similar here, too: While I'm in the throes of migraine pain, I bribe myself with treats that I can look forward to after my migraine is over. I promise myself a reward later because there's absolutely nothing enjoyable about going through the migraine experience.

Enjoying small rewards through the pain

"They can't be that bad," friends and acquaintances have said about my chronic migraines. My response usually goes something like this: "Yes, yes, they can." I've never known anyone to enjoy the feeling of sharp, pointy ice picks poking at their eyes while their brain becomes a personal fire pit. This is the level of pain I'm stuck with anywhere from half a day to a full 36 hours. So, one migrained-out day, my parenting and migraine worlds collided when I started thinking up small rewards for myself once my migraine was finished.

Changing my outlook

I admit it seemed silly to start promising myself scoops of ice cream once my pain abandoned me, but something about making that promise created a tiny shift in my ominous outlook. When I thought about indulging in fun self-care treats, I felt like I could make it through the pain. Visualizing these extra incentives reminded me that my pain will pass - because inevitably, at some point during my downtime, I wonder if it ever will. Stuck in a dark room where minutes creep by like hours, I feel like my pain is my life. I ask myself repeatedly how I'll get through this. And that's when I work up these little bribes to remind myself my migraine will eventually give me a break - even if it's a short one.

Finally rewarding myself

Generally, these bribes are things like extra time spent watching my favorite binge-able program or a trip to an awesome bakery to enjoy a new dessert. It's not a perfect solution to eliminating pain, but it's a step I've added to my migraine bag o'tricks. So, when my head pain finally ends, I reward myself with that ice cream—and sometimes I bring my son along too. It's funny; he never needs a bribe to share a scoop with his mom.

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