A person has headphones on with their phone next to them; they are lounging in the spine of a giant open book that is on top of a stack of giant library books

Making Adjustments to My Reading for My Migraines

I’m a reader. I’m one of those people for whom “books” is part of my personality. I have big bookshelves, lovingly organized and decorated. I scoff at people who organize their books in rainbow order because series don’t go together that way. I was an English major, thank you, yes. I am an English teacher, also. I write professionally. Books books books. Words words words.

How could I keep reading with migraine?

So imagine my dismay when my migraines began getting worse from reading. I wept to my therapist, “I need to handle my migraines so I can consume more media!” I already gave up much of my TV watching and had cut down on my computer and phone screen use. Now, the migraines were coming for my books.

I had to make some adjustments if I wanted to keep up with my reading habit.

Adjustment #1

For one thing, I stopped reading digital books almost entirely. While it is “greener,” so is the library. I don’t retain information as well when I read it from a digital book, likely at least in part because reading from a screen begins to give me migraines.

How do I read on screens when I have to?

I also need to be mindful of my reading on screens besides e-books. I messed with the brightness on my phone and computer and made a point to take breaks, especially breaks in which I go look at nature or go do something else for a while. I never ever read text with a black background and white words. That is a recipe for an aura for me.

Adjustment #2

Another adjustment I made, speaking of the library, is that I began to request large print books. I still feel a bit strange about this one. I was worried that, by requesting large print books, especially of sought-after new releases, I was keeping them from people who are visually impaired. I don’t want to keep a book from someone who couldn’t otherwise access it. Then it occurred to me…that someone was me.

How do I feel about reading large print books?

I continue to have a hard time accepting that migraines are a disability and that I am being debilitated by them at this time. I did a bit of research on large print books and large print book printing, and some people have the opinion that the more we demand large print books from booksellers and libraries, the more books will be put into large print runs. So, by my requesting large print books, hopefully, more books will have more availability in large print. Or at least that’s what I tell myself to feel better about it if I can’t quite bring myself to let go of the insecurity about needing bigger print.

Adjustment #3

While I’m not an auditory learner and prefer to process my information visually, I have noticed that I can’t consume as much media visually because of my current migraine status, so I have found a few audiobooks I’ve enjoyed, namely memoirs or non-fiction books read by the authors. If I am already a fan of the “voice” of the author, I’m more likely to enjoy the book in an audio format.

Where am I now?

As much as I want to go back to the days of reading hundreds of pages at a time, from books with tiny print to endless screen time, I need to meet myself where I am.

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