Person with purple Migraine Awareness Month ribbon crosses arms thinking about awareness for other visible diseases.

Muzzled Migraine

I recently read an article that said that migraine was taken more seriously as an illness in medieval times. It really made me think for a moment about why that is, and how can we as a community change the perception of how serious migraine disease really is?

Migraine is an invisible illness

A big part of the reason migraine has lost the depth of its seriousness is because it can’t be readily seen by people who don’t suffer or have the experience of having migraine disease. If you have a broken limb it’s usually pretty visible. Cancer patients undergoing treatment for their disease usually will have some sort of outward signs. Don’t get me wrong I’m not trying to trivialize other illnesses because that’s another reason I think migraine has lost its voice despite being one of the top ten most disabling diseases according to the World Health Organization.

The silence of migraine

Migraine is a silent killer. It kills off our time, careers, social life, and countless other items. It is a complex and individualistic disease. There is no one-size-fits-all therapy or treatment. In some circumstances, silence speaks volumes like when mom is not happy with her kids and they get the look, but it’s not like that with migraine.

Giving more of a voice to migraine

The loss of migraine’s voice in the health research community is unwarranted and needs to be changed. There are great organizations out there that are working to provide migraine disease more power to be considered as a real entity that deserves exposure and funding. The Migraine World Summit is a huge yearly event that brings together dozens of migraine specialists from all over the world to discuss new breakthroughs, treatments, and various other aspects of migraine disease. I make it a point to listen to as many speakers as I can every year and I encourage my friends, family, and business associates to invest some time to get educated about migraine.

The wear and tear of migraine

Why do migraineurs participate in self-destructive behaviors? Well, I don’t think we do it maliciously. I believe it is born from the fact that migraine lives on a spectrum where not every migraine is vicious nor is every migraine mild. The fact is that migraine is different for everyone. It’s a personal part of our lives that is sometimes raw and painful to express.

It's not the same for everyone

That’s where the destructive aspect comes from. We get tired of explaining and trying to educate others because it wears on us. Then there are migraineurs that have great luck with over the counter pain relievers or other remedies that are downplaying their migraine attacks. This is certainly not the case for most chronic migraine sufferers.

The stigma of migraine

Some of us are hiding our migraine disease from our less than empathetic employers and coworkers. It’s just another way migraine’s voice gets muzzled. Even a trip to the doctor or the emergency room can quickly prove that migraine is not taken seriously. We go looking for help and can be accused of being drug seekers, or upon trying to articulate our odd symptoms to medical staff get looked at like we are simply mentally unstable. It hurts.

Advocate and educate

This is why I urge all migraineurs to hold fast and take the time to educate those around you. Educate yourselves and become your own best advocate. Join a web community like Migraine.com. Make a difference in your own way!

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