Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer

Does Your Family “Get” Migraines?

It’s hard to understand something you’ve never experienced. And that certainly is so applicable to the life of a migraineur.

What I think is most frustrating as a migraineur, is someone thinking they know a migraine because they too have had a “headache” before.

Enter #morethanjustaheadache.

It’s a catchy hashtag that resonates with the migraine community, but do those outside of our circle really get it?

I need them to “get” it

Over the years, I’ve become less concerned about the opinions of those outside my inner circle, but I need my inner circle to “get it”.

My family is my rock. And I never wish a migraine on anyone, so I don’t want them to know firsthand the pain and frustrations of a migraine life. But I want them to know that I’m not exaggerating. I’m not making it up.

I personally feel the best way for a non-migraineur to understand the intensity of these attacks is to support you through one. Yes, this means asking for help. But it can be the greatest gift you give to yourself and your support team.

Letting loved ones in

This was the game-changer for my fiancé, Brian. In our younger dating years, I was on a girls weekend at the beach and got a migraine attack. It was a debilitating one that had me vomiting and too weak to walk let alone drive home.

I wanted to be home in bed.

I didn’t want to disrupt the weekend for my friends, so I called Brian and told him I needed him to come pick me up. He was about an hour and a half away, but he heard in my voice I needed help. He and his best friend drove down so they could bring me and my car back. I remember barely saying anything on the car ride home. I’m pretty certain I slept most of the drive and then slept for hours more when we got home.

Seeing and believing

There wasn’t any explaining that I had to do. He was seeing with his own eyes the effects of migraines. I’m typically a very strong-willed, lace up your bootstraps and positive woman, but a debilitating migraine will strip me of all of that.

He still talks about that migraine to this day – years later. That was the moment for him when he saw that the migraines I experienced were far different than even his worst of headaches. There are no words that I could have told him that would have given him the same understanding.

Sometimes people need to see it to believe it. And I know, I get it that we don’t want people seeing us during a migraine – it’s not our finest moment – but asking for help can give you the support you need in the moment and help your family “get it” as best they can without having firsthand experience.

What’s been your best way to help your family and inner circle to understand the reality of life with migraines?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • mysorehead2020
    4 days ago

    It is so important to let close family in – even if it seems difficult, there’s so many life lessons to be learnt – especially for kids. I’ve been a migraine sufferer for 15 years – my daughter is 16 and my son 12… when they were little and i had an attack at work, i would call my husband and tell him he just had to come back home and deal with everything and that I would be out of service. Life would carry on without me while I hid in my bedroom under my covers, crying and suffering alone and my husband would just say i was tired and needed to sleep (I didn’t want them to see me suffering, I thought it would scare them)… when my daughter was about 10 and my son 7 and I felt they were beginning to want to know more about my problem, so I let them in and explained everything to them, i told them it wasn’t dangerous for my health, and even if I looked like I was going to die and felt like i was going to die, that I WASN’T going to die… they amazed me… I no longer needed to call my husband, my daugther made sandwiches for her and her brother and my son would give me massages and bring me water and wet clothes for my sore head ! they understood that making noise would disturb me and that the attack would pass and everything would go back to normal even IF at that moment, everything seemed so terrible. Now my kids are problem solvers, solution finders, are not scared of pain or suffering, they know how to help someone, look after themselves and are extremely considerate of others. Let your family in and share your pain – they will understand it so much better – sending good vibes to everyone who suffers xxxx

  • Allyson.Ellis moderator
    3 days ago

    Thank you so much for sharing, mysorehead2020. Children really are amazing! I am so glad your kids are learning some incredibly valuable skills and lessons in empathy from what you endure living with migraine. It is so hard to show others your pain, but as you illustrate, so important. Allowing others to see you at your worst can bring about greater understanding of migraine, something which is desperately needed. Wishing you a gentle day. ~Allyson (Migraine.com team)

  • mustbefaking
    1 week ago

    One of my family members actually seems to be jealous of my migraines and compares any illness she has with me and states that she is in pain and disabled also. I don’t want to have this, I’m very strong, have always worked and don’t complain and do all I can. 20+ years of this misery and my family definitely does NOT get it. Thinks I should eat better. Omg

  • Allyson.Ellis moderator
    1 week ago

    Oh my goodness, mustbefaking. I hear how frustrating and painful your interactions with your family feel for you. It hurts to live with a chronic illness like migraine for so many years and have loved ones resolutely refuse to learn about it or believe how deeply it affects you. Please know in this community you are among those who do understand and can empathize. Wishing you a gentle day. ~Allyson (Migraine.com team)

  • mysorehead2020
    4 days ago

    I had a similar problem with friends – i used to have to cancel social plans etc and my husband would often go without me to parties, dinners etc… people would raise their eyebrows at me next time they saw me or call me “sauvage” and say i pretended to have migraines to avoid seeing them… kind of joking but not quite.. one summer day last year, we had organised a bbq at ours with this particular group of friends and i woke up that morning with a HUGE migraine – normally i would have cancelled but I didn”t – I told me husband to go ahead without me… he did, I heard them “partying” outside all day and around 7pm when the searing sun had started to cool down and the garden was in the shade and i had managed to sleep a little, i came downstairs … the look on their faces was total shock – i was grey, huge black circles under my eyes and when the first person who said “are you feeling better” i just burst into tears …. they are now much more understanding and even say things like “I had a bad migraine the other day but nothing like what you have to go through” …. have you let them see you in your worst moments ?

  • Georgiana
    1 week ago

    Here’s how I explained it to my old sea dog father. I said “Daddy, think of some of your WORST hangovers, how you couldn’t stand bright light or loud noises and how your stomach churned at the least movement or even the mention of food. Now, triple all that. That’s migraine.”

    Daddy now gets it.

  • Allyson.Ellis moderator
    1 week ago

    I’m glad you found a way to communicate migraine in a way your dad understands and can relate to, Georgiana! Thank you for joining the conversation. Wishing you a gentle day. ~Allyson (Migraine.com team)

  • LAnnSmith
    2 weeks ago

    My friend and I went to a concert that triggered one of my worst migraines. She saw me vomiting, and kind of in a stupor of pain where I couldn’t really communicate with her. She drove me to her house, where I crawled to the front lawn and just stopped. She was frightened but took care of me, taking me home etc.
    I picked up my car the next afternoon and sent her a text thanking her. We talked later and she really understands the pain and disability part now. Plus she’s told other people and they seem to get it, too.

  • Allyson.Ellis moderator
    2 weeks ago

    What an awful experience to have gone through, LAnnSmith. I am glad your friend was there for you and that, miserable as it was, seeing that attack helped bring about additional understanding and support from her. Having someone to help advocate for you with others is a wonderful thing! How are you feeling today? Thank you for joining the conversation. Wishing you a gentle afternoon. ~Allyson (Migraine.com team)

  • Ducecoop
    2 weeks ago

    So far I still get the steely blue-eyed look of “it can’t be that bad” along with a sort of embarrassed for me look; because they’re sure every else see I’m faking it, too. They give lip service to “believing” me but they don’t; not really; not ever. It’s that lingering doubt in them that makes me want to just die. Chronic changed my world.

  • Allyson.Ellis moderator
    2 weeks ago

    I hear how painful the judgemental looks and attitudes of others toward your migraine symptoms feel for you, Ducecoop. The hurt of not being believed cuts incredibly deep. Please know you are not alone and can always find supportive, empathic friends in this community. Wishing you a gentle day. ~Allyson (Migraine.com team)

  • LAnnSmith
    2 weeks ago

    I’m sorry about your family, mine is like that also. Due to that plus other things, I’ve cut ties with some of them. They became a burden that I didn’t have strength to manage.

  • April.Sluder moderator
    2 weeks ago

    Wow @vsurdel, that is great that he was there for you from the beginning. There are some that would run away from that situation. Congratulations on 37 years. April – Migraine.com Team

  • vsurdel
    2 weeks ago

    My husband’s and my first date ended with me having a horrible migraine and trying desperately not to throw up in his car on the way home. A few weeks later we were to watch the football game, but when he got there I had a migraine. He turned the tv down low, got me comfortable in bed, and sat in the dark listening to the game from the other room and holding my hand. Not only did he see the effects of my migraine, but he was there for me. We’ve been married 37 years.

  • April.Sluder moderator
    2 weeks ago

    Wow @vsurdel, that is great that he was there for you from the beginning. There are some that would run away from that situation. Congratulations on 37 years. April – Migraine.com Team

  • Poll