Fitting in Socially With Migraine: (Not) Whining About Not Drinking Wine

I’m the only one drinking water at this party.

Sure, the migraine medication I’m taking as a preventative (Topamax) can also prevent me from counting, but I can clearly count all fifteen people holding wine versus my one glass of tap water.

I try swallowing that ol’ familiar lump in my throat, but I can tell it’s here to stay. One of these things is not like the other, and I’m getting the feeling it’s me.

Flashback to the playground

In grade school, when it came time to choose teams for any sporting event, I was picked last. T-ball, kick-ball…well…anything involving a ball was not my forte. Being picked last was to be my unsporty fate, and I became all too familiar with feeling left out.

This is why I can instantly recognize the awkward emptiness as an adult. This party is no exception.

Finding my new normal

While I may enjoy the occasional glass of wine or beer, my migraines do not. Alcohol is one of my many migraine triggers like excessive heat and algebra. Drinking wine in a hot sauna while working on quadric equations might cause my head to explode, so I refrain from all of the above.

It’s taken some time, but I’ve gotten used to ordering a glass of water at parties, social events, and morning brunches. Old friends know my drill but new buddies do not. My water glass and I have I’ve gotten a vast array of responses thus making my social experiences feel wallflower-like.

“Oh, just have one glass!”

“I just can’t imagine not being able to drink!”

“Take a sip of mine…”

These are some of the varied responses I’ve gotten after explaining why I’m abstaining.

Not everyone will understand

When I tell a person who asks why I’m not drinking, I can see that person’s facial expression go from “fun party vibe” to “confused downer vibe.” It’s like I’m only describing a super bad hangover. All I truly know is that conversations about migraines at parties never seem to gel no matter how humorous I try to make a throbbing head and continuous vomiting sound.

Of course, there are those who sympathize because they’ve had a cousin or parent who suffered, but for those who have no frame of reference, eventually, my glass of water fails to bond us. Our conversation reaches a lull and my new acquaintance politely leaves in favor of chatting with someone imbibing. Sometimes, I think I should just suck it up and join in. My choice is not what the popular kids are doing.

Embracing my choice

Parties, where the alcohol is free-flowing, can leave me freely flowing to a corner, but I know I can’t join them. The price is too high to pay. I’ve learned to seek out the friends that know me or the other water drinkers in the circle. My glass of water is a reminder that even though I may be feeling left out in the group, I won't leave my head out. I’m always on my team trying to pick myself first.

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