Every month is awareness month

Every June we celebrate Migraine and Headache Awareness Month. We treat it like a holiday -- lots of anticipation and weeks of preparation culminate in that big push. Then we wake up on July 1st, exhausted and ready for a nap. We take down our purple ribbons and the social media frenzy fizzles out.

What if awareness month were treated less like a holiday and more like a launch party?

Why not use June as a springboard for year 'round advocacy by getting recharged, motivated, and educated to spread awareness all the time?

Migraine is everywhere.

I live in a cul-de-sac with 12 homes. My neighborhood is very friendly. Kids are always playing outside, people garden, enjoy BBQ cookouts, wave at each other, return each other's dogs when they escape their respective yards, share phone numbers, flowers and fresh produce from their gardens, and swap camping gear for outdoor adventures. We know each others' names, where we all work, our hobbies, and the names of each others' kids and grandkids. It's a great place to live.

According to prevalence studies, someone is living with migraine in at least three of those homes. So why in the world have I not met the other two migraine patients?

It's because of stigma.

That stigma can make us feel marginalized and isolated. We can be tempted to hide our disease behind a fake smile, pretending that nothing is wrong. But something IS wrong. That something is a disease that we didn't create, can't fix, and certainly didn't ask for. That something is also the cultural reputation of Migraine. Migraine disease and those living with it have gotten a bad rap.

People stigmatize what they do not understand. So it's time for us to come out of the shadows, to let the world see us. Migraine is very common.  So common, in fact, that one in four households is affected. Migraine hits hardest during the prime of life -- during our child-bearing and career-building years. It can seriously reduce our earning potential, derail our career trajectory, and damage our most intimate relationships.

My migraine neighbors probably have no idea that I exist and I plan to change that. This disease is nothing to be ashamed of. There is absolutely no reason to keep it a secret. In fact, by keeping quiet, we are feeding the very stigma that keeps us isolated. If we all spoke up, they couldn't ignore us.

So I'm issuing this challenge.

Get out there and find those hidden members of your migraine family. Meet your neighbors and co-workers. You don't have to be pushy or obnoxious, but do be willing to discuss the topic.

An estimated 36-39 million Americans live with migraine.

One in four households...

One in nine women...

One in ten children...

One in eighteen men...

all live with migraine.

You are not alone.

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