The Exhausting “Have You Tried…?” Question
We’ve all heard it. That well-meaning “Have you tried…” question that comes from well-meaners in the world of non-migraineurs. These people mean no harm and wish us the best. Many folks are uncomfortable with our pain and want desperately to fix it for us. They also believe, out of a lack of understanding, that migraine is a condition that can be solved and cured.
There is no cure
Of course, we migraineurs know that migraine is a complex neurological condition for which there is no cure. Indeed, for most people living with migraine, seeking relief is a long-term commitment to self.
Making migraine more manageable
As there is no cure, a more realistic goal is to lessen the severity and frequency of attacks by combining multiple strategies. A treatment cocktail, as it were, is often constructed in partnership with a doctor through enormous time and effort, which peels away one troublesome symptom at a time until migraine becomes more manageable. This process can take decades and involves a great amount of patience and trial and error.
Reframe the question for compassion
A heads up to the well-meaners out there: The “have you tried” question doesn’t feel great to receive for a few different reasons. First, it can make us feel as though the questioner is implying that they know more about migraine than we do. Which, of course, isn’t the case. We migraineurs are the experts on this condition. The question can put us on the defense. We tend to hear “Why haven’t you tried…” or “Why aren’t you trying harder…” buried in the subtext of the original question. These are sensitive topics for a myriad of reasons. It’s best to assume that your friend has already tried everything out there or they are taking a break from trying for a reason.
If you want to ask if they’ve heard of a new treatment strategy that helped someone else you know, that’s great! However, next time, try reframing your question this way: “I’m sure you’ve already tried everything out there, but I wanted to pass this idea along because it worked for another friend with migraine.”
Better yet, in order to learn from, understand, and appreciate all that your migraine friend has been through while navigating their condition, ask this question instead: “How many and which treatments have you tried?” You’ll be surprised to hear about what kind of journey they’ve been on, and that question will make them feel heard, understood, and supported.
How do you feel when someone asks, “Have you tried…?” Is there something you’d rather they say instead?
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