Migraine-Related Fears Encapsulated

A friend once asked if I had migraine attacks in my dreams. I was surprised to realize the answer is no, though I do have frequent nightmares and vivid dreams during attacks. This continues to be true — I recently had the worst attack I’ve had in a while and the dream matched it.

The dream

Please bear with me while I describe the dream. It’s a hotbed of migraine fears, so it’s worth sharing to highlight those concerns.

I was hosting an Airbnb dinner party. I had maybe 15 attendees, at first they were friends of my husband’s that I’d met a couple times, then all became strangers. In the dream, I’d had a migraine attack that day and was unable to cook. My guests, who had paid for a dinner party, were understandably frustrated. I cleaned as they arrived and said I’d put out appetizers to munch on and would then pay for all of us to go to a restaurant.

I started pulling out food and realized I was creating a great spread (fancy cheeses, crackers, cashews, and soppressata—I’ve never eaten soppressata and am currently vegetarian, but it was a big deal in my dream!). I offered people their choice of lemon or lime La Croix, then discovered I was short a couple lemon ones because my husband had given them to his friends. I had other sparkling water, but it was store brand, so my guests were unimpressed.

Since the food offering was so good, I announced we were going to have a dinner party at my house with finger foods (my favorite kind of party food anyway). This was partially because the food was good and partially because I didn’t have the energy to go to a restaurant and my migraine hangover meant I didn’t want to be in a noisy place full of smells. I had told them I was slow because of the migraine attack, so I hoped they would understand.

All the guests except one were fine with this. She was livid. I talked to her and explained my predicament and thought she'd come around. Then I went into the kitchen to get more food. When I came back, all the guests were grabbing their bags and getting ready to go. I asked one what was going on and couldn’t understand her reply. She was speaking English and even had my regional accent, but I couldn’t understand the words. The rest of the guests circled around and taunted me for not understanding the words. Then they began taunting me for not being able to function during and right after a migraine attack.

Emblematic of waking life

This was a dream and was overly dramatic, of course, but it honestly doesn't feel that unrealistic. These fears play out all the time with migraine. I never know when migraine will cause me to disappoint myself or someone else. I am constantly constrained by my migraine symptoms—even when I’m doing well, migraine dictates where I go and what triggers I expose myself to. And I never know when someone will take migraine seriously and believe me when I describe the severity of my symptoms. Even when they do seem to understand, it’s hard to know if they really get it or if they just say they do.

It may seem silly to share a dream with you, but it feels emblematic to me. It’s an illustration of how migraine fears are always with us—even while asleep. And it shows how migraine worms its way into so many aspects of our lives.

How do your migraine-related fears show up? Is it in dreams or in your everyday life or both?

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