How Do You Decide Whether to Work or Not?

Last updated: January 2023

One of our patient advocates recently detailed her struggle with deciding whether or not to go to work when a migraine hits. When sharing her experience, she especially highlighted the struggle of making the decision when a migraine isn’t the most brutal and could be pushed through but really may not be the best idea for long-term recovery.

We asked you, in the community, how you feel about determining whether or not to go to work, especially on days when the call could go either way.

Do you feel guilty about missing work?

“I feel guilty all of the time like that and watch the clock. Missed work yesterday and was sick as a dog, and trudged into work this morning hung-over from all my meds and the pain from the day before.”

“Wow, this describes my battle a few times a week. That guilt of thinking that you are almost well enough to be at work versus the fear and guilt that going into work would mean you are unwell tomorrow as well. I find it very hard to make a decision.”

“I’m a teacher, and unfortunately, when I miss a day, it affects all the staff. This, of course, makes me feel guilty, so I push through as much as I can. Today, I made it through the whole day with a mild migraine because I felt too guilty asking to leave. I know I desperately need to sleep and take care of myself, but the guilt of taking a sick day is almost worse.”

Which decision is the right one?

“Like others here, this has happened to me so many times. Especially as I get aura migraines without pain, it makes it very hard to know whether I’m well enough to work - sometimes, it’s obvious, especially on the first day of the migraine. But by day 2 or 3, once my stomach has settled, I often think I’m fine until I try to drive or concentrate on work. Then I’ll realize I’m slurring slightly or just forgetting words, which is really embarrassing when I’m on the phone with a client!”

“Lately, mine have gotten to the point where they will hit me suddenly. One day I had a migraine, and I tried to stick it out as long as possible when I should have just stayed home. I was driving home, and I didn’t even have time to pull over before throwing up everywhere. It’s scary.”

“This is the worst — trying to make this decision. As my migraines became more chronic, I faced this decision constantly. Should I go in, or hope I feel better tomorrow? Should I tough it out the rest of the day or head home now in hopes I can keep it from ruining the rest of the work week? It’s so very difficult to know the best approach…which can be different every time anyway.”

How can you call out sick?

“I say, just do what you’re capable of that day. If you can, go into work, but I think it would be a bad idea to be in front of customers. I suggest you work in the back office for the day. Keeping to yourself, quiet if you can, just getting on with stuff in your own time, might be an easier way to get back to work than rushing back to the frontline.”

“I think we just have to think of ourselves in the moment and try and forget about the workload and deadlines —however, I haven’t figured out how to do that yet!”

“Never push through. Take care of yourself properly first, and then only if you are 75% better from the migraine, try and go in.”

“Stay home definitely, and value yourself by resting. We are so much more than what we do. I had to learn this lesson and always found it so tricky as a nurse to call in sick, knowing full well that if I went in, I ran the risk of making mistakes, lapses in concentration, ineffectiveness, etc.”

Please continue to share with us how you manage the decision of whether or not to work, and any words of advice you have for our fellow community members!


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

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