This invisible condition that is migraine can make it appear as if we are totally fine when we are absolutely not. On the outside, we seem completely normal. We can walk, we can talk and we even can appear to be firing on all cylinders. But from our view looking out, the world is pulsating in pain with every heartbeat. With eyes burning, we are nauseated and on the verge of vomiting.
The dichotomy between how someone with migraine looks on the outside and how s/he feels on the inside has me thinking: What if migraines were a visible condition? What would a migraine actually look like? I’m sure each of us would have our own way of describing the physical embodiment of the condition. One thing is for sure, it would be terrifying to behold.
On the other hand, maybe I am not the only one who feels like my eyes are on fire and my face is melting. I’ve heard others describe stabbing pain through the neck and head. More graphic descriptions include an ice pick or railroad tie lodged through the eye or base of the skull. Others share a sense that their brain is either imploding or exploding. Picture, for a moment, encountering someone actually experiencing any one of these things.
Ironically, making migraines a visible condition would have many positive ramifications. Imagine if you encountered someone in the grocery store whose eyes were bleeding. First, we could easily identify fellow migraineurs and come to their aid with compassion and assistance. Identifying others who have migraines would help to decrease feelings of isolation. We’d be able to see just how many people are affected by the condition. Visible signs would also provide many opportunities to educate the public about the condition. People would ask “Why do you have an ice pick sticking out of the back of your neck?” and we’d be able to inform them that we are just one of 36 million people who suffer from migraines.
The aforementioned examples simply illustrate the pain we are experiencing, but that is only part of the puzzle. Demonstrating the extreme impacts of migraine on the senses would help to complete the picture. If we were to stick with the example of the grocery store, what if there was muzac blaring and flashing florescent lights to all the people in the store any time a person with a migraine walked in? And what if large blowers sent intense fragrances of the slightest smells throughout the aisles so others could experience our reality?
Not Faking It
If people could see and experience migraine pain and its related symptoms, the migraine landscape might change. One thing’s for sure – if people could see the level of pain we are in, any insinuations of malingering would simply melt away. Instead, people would flock to our sides to lend a helping hand. Our bosses would probably ask us to go home. And perhaps most importantly for a long-term solution, desperately needed research funding would come flowing our way.
If you could make your migraine visible, what would it look like? Do you think it would help others better understand what you are going through? If so, how and why?