Why Migraine Is Important: Changing My Mindset
I recently identified a nagging thought. It had been hanging around for years, but it finally came to the surface. What was it?
“Migraine is not important.”
This thought is undoubtedly upsetting and unsettling. Where did this false but powerful sentiment come from?
It came from past memories and experiences
For example, the sentiment came from remarks by both strangers and acquaintances that made light of our disease. There was the professor who laughed that my art studio was “so dark and quiet,” the stranger who heckled me for wearing sunglasses at night, or the acquaintance who asked if I was “hungover.”
Worse than direct comments were the many times in which I was simply ignored or forgotten because of my migraines. Such as a time no one thought to make sure there was something for me to eat when I was feeling better. Or when insurance companies said “NO” to treatments that could help me. Or when doctors didn’t answer my messages or calls, or heck, didn’t diagnose me until my late 20’s, despite the fact that I had symptoms since childhood.
Ineffective treatments didn’t help
Because of the lack of diagnosis, there were also the times that I was left to try all sorts of ineffective treatments for my “headaches” such as getting a dental mouth guard, downloading an expensive app that played a static tone that was supposed to ease pain, or taking a medicine such as ibuprofen or Tylenol and just praying that some sort of placebo effect would kick in.
Knowledge is power
It’s not all bad—the above experiences also caused me to write and speak about migraine. I’ve been writing for Migraine.com since 2014. I know migraine is important. I think my strength has come from this knowledge. I also know a lot of reasons why migraine isn’t taken seriously.
The American Migraine Foundation says, “Migraine is seen as not important. Despite the severe disability and pain associated with migraine, people without migraine view the disorder as episodic and not usually fatal, therefore not a priority for funding.”
I knew that to be a better advocate for migraine, and also to live a happier life, I had to change my thinking.
Migraine is important because I am important
I found an antidote to the toxic thought.
I am important
Maybe society, the medical industry, or those who choose not to be empathetic or open to learning can think migraine isn’t serious (and they would be wrong), but those who care about me know that anything that affects me is important because I’m important to their lives.
Maybe some friends or family members will never in their lives understand what a migraine is like, but they do understand it takes their friend / daughter / wife / mother / coworker out of their lives in the full way that she would otherwise participate.
To everyone living with migraine:
We are important, and so is migraine. All 38 million of us in the U.S., and countless more throughout the world. If I keep this fact in mind, then all other arguments lose their grip.
I’ve seen too many in our community have similar stories to mine. Many struggle to find a support network, a helpful doctor, and a positive outcome. The more we realize how important migraine is, the more I believe the lack of support for those with the disease will start to dissipate.
New treatment progress helps too
I’ve been so excited about the new migraine preventive medications that have come on the market recently because that shows that companies have seen the need is important (even if that’s evaluated in a monetary sense), and have taken action to meet the need. Things are far from perfect, but even just a little validation of our disease burden and need for better treatments by an outside source or company is so gratifying.
But really, what I’ve needed all along, is validation from within. I’m so grateful this thought-journey has taken me there.
Tell me about your journey. What are your reasons for why migraine is important? Share in the comments below!
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