Figure with head down in frustration and a thought bubble above his head surrounded by advice bubbles

Advice People Without Migraines Have Given Me

I stopped telling people about my daily migraines, because I noticed a strange trend when I’d reveal my brain-grilling neurological disorder: the tips. The lovely woman I’d meet at a dinner party or the fun mom I met at carpool would suddenly be moved to give me tips on how to fix my head. These almost helpful instructions always started out the same way, “I don’t get migraines, but have you tried…?

Unsolicited advice from those without migraine

My new friends would list remedies that seemed to come from snippets of magazines they’d read at the dentist’s office or the back of chewing gum wrappers. I suppose it’s possible Bazooka Joe has a crack team of migraine researchers working to provide the latest and greatest research, but they don’t list their telephone number.

Advice giving sans experience can be a bit tricky. As non-migraineurs, these new friends weren’t aware of the pitfalls that my brain can experience daily. Here are my four favorite tips I’ve gotten from people without migraines:

Have you tried getting more sun?

“I don’t get migraines, but have you tried getting more sun?” While there have been studies showing Vitamin D supplements can help some migraine suffers, the bright, hot sun is my nemesis. I have back-up sunglasses and back-ups for my back-ups hidden in strategic places. Too much brightness will trigger a migraine as well as becoming overheated. Is there such thing as a moon tan?

Have you tried doing a handstand?

“I don’t get migraines, but have you tried doing a handstand?” While a handstand is part of normal yoga practice, and yoga has been proven to possibly reduce migraines, during a migraine, I can’t practice anything but lying down. Increasing my circulation, inverting my normal blood flow, and making all the blood rush to my boiling head might be a good way to see my eyeballs pop out. Then again, that might take my attention off my migraine.

Have you taken Advil for your migraines?

“I don’t get migraines, but have you tried taking Advil?”  Yes.

Have you eaten a spoonful of black pepper?

“I don’t get migraines, but have you tried eating a spoonful of black pepper?” Cayenne pepper has a compound called capsaicin that dulls one of the neurotransmitters responsible for sending pain signals to the brain. Black pepper just makes you sneeze.

Migraine isn't simple

I understand that the people really want to help, yet when offered these types of simple solutions, the complexity of my neurological condition somehow feels diminished. My heart beats heavier, and I want to cry out how my migraines are far from simple.

Listen to understand migraine

So, I’d like to make a suggestion: If the door is opened to chat about migraines, try to understand it’s more about the listening than about offering the solutions. I get how powerless my migraines can make a person feel. They make me feel that way, too. I mean, I’d love to lay in the sun, do a handstand, take some Advil, and sprinkle black pepper-like fairy dust and call it a day, but it doesn’t work like that. Migraines are rough, and I thank you in advance for just listening.

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