Two figures with their backs to the viewer. One has it's hand on the others shoulder. The figure with its hand on the others back has a speech bubble for a head and the other figure has a thought bubble for a head. The Speech bubble has an arm embracing the thought bubble.

Validating Pain With Migraine

I think we’ve all been at a point when we verbally express our pain, even if we don’t do it often, and have been met with an unkind remark. Some aren’t meant to be unkind, but unfortunately “you and me both sister” is not an accurate response to someone's pain.

Invisible illness

I get it. It’s easy to try to acknowledge something you may have some understanding or meaning to blow someone off that way, right?  Yes, that’s how it comes off to us.

But “getting it” with chronic pain and getting chronic illness usually takes validation from other people sometimes, in some shape or form. Or we can tend to retreat. And validation can be extremely hard when the pain isn’t always as visible to the naked eye, hence the term often used for these conditions, “invisible illnesses”.

I get that the phrase “Invisible illness” might sound hokey, or tacky. But sometimes, this is the only way that some people living with pain and the symptoms related to pain can be a helpful way that people often talk about them. Symptoms so often can go unseen, which is why many people feel that they can empathize better using the phrase "invisible illness".

Things to avoid saying when validating someone’s pain:

  • Me too!
  • Same.
  • “I feel you - I..”
    • Don’t make it about you. Try to avoid any statement with "I" in them and keep the conversation in our direction if we're are being open and speaking about something. It takes a lot for us to be able to share how much physical pain we hide. It takes a lot more to share it out loud risking rejection or unkind, passive words.

Things we would like to hear when validating someone's pain:

  • Can I go to the store and get you anything?
  • Acknowledging their pain (even if you did yesterday).
  • How about I come over and make us a sandwich?
  • Can I help with chores?
  • Can I do anything for you?
  • Should we sit on the patio for a while?
  • Want me to bring the kids on errands with me today and tomorrow so that you can have a bit of quiet time?

Understanding our difference

We understand that no one will understand our individual symptoms and don't necessarily expect them to. But we do want to be better understood when we are not always able to communicate our pain or symptoms in a way for others to understand. Everyone deals with pain differently - psychosocial, leisure, etc.

What would you add to this discussion and how can we better communicate our pain in different ways so that others can help validate this? What IS an accurate response to pain?

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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 Migraine.com 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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