When “Can Do” Turns into “Can’t Do”: The Impact of Migraine

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“You look fine.”

Sigh. That is because I am doing my best to hold it all together. On the inside, the crushing, pounding, throbbing pain of migraine is making it nearly impossible to think. These lights – they hurt my eyes. Wait, is the world spinning, or is it me?

Since migraine is an invisible illness, it is not always obvious to others when we are suffering. The truth is that it is hard to “get” migraine unless you actually get a migraine.

What do we wish others knew about migraine – and how it impacts our ability to get through the day? We asked our Migraine.com community this very question.

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Quote featuring woman's face in silhouette atop bed with words reading, It is hard to be present. My body is there, but I am counting the seconds until I can go lie down. - Migraine.com Community Member

Poll

Do family and friends understand how much migraine impacts you?

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We just want to function

Forget feeling like ourselves. We would consider it a victory if we could feel like a basic, functioning human. When migraine strikes, it can make even the simplest tasks challenging. Unloading the dishwasher. Waiting in line at checkout. Writing an email. Everything seems so much harder before, during, or after a migraine attack – and we wish others understood this.

It can feel like migraine steals a lot from our lives, especially if we are dealing with chronic migraine. Sometimes, we catch ourselves wondering: Will it ever end?

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Doctor staring indifferently. A yellow dot flies into one ear and out of the other, finally popping in the air.

“Standing up, walking – my brain feels like it bounces off the sides of my skull with the gentlest of steps.”

– Migraine.com Community Member


Poll

How often do you experience aphasia with your migraine?

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The word jumble

What is the name of it? You know, that green, leafy stuff you put on sandwiches? When we are mid-migraine, finding the right words can be tough.

Many in our community experience aphasia – the temporary inability to process language, written or spoken. Our words seem to go MIA. Or the wrong ones pop out. We get foggy in the head. And our brains go blank. No matter how hard we try to focus, we cannot get our words to work for us. It is frustrating...even embarrassing.

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Phone featuring dial numbers and hung up symbol with giant red prohibition circle-backlash symbol

“I have had to end phone calls because I just can't stand the sound. And when you do talk, the wrong words come out. Or you can't think of words.”

– Migraine.com Community Member


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The fear loop

You wake up in the morning and your migraine is gone. Finally. But you are scared to celebrate too soon. Is it really gone? Or is it just taking a breather before it starts raging again? Nope, looks like the coast is clear. And then the fear sets in. When is the next one going to hit?

What our community wishes others knew: migraine is not a one-and-done thing. Our next migraine is always on our minds. And there is residual fear that lingers. When will the next attack occur? Will it hit at the worst possible time? How bad will it be?

This fear loop plays again and again. Trouble is, while we’re waiting for our next migraine, it sometimes seems like we are missing out on living our lives.

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Clouds move to conceal eyes that fade from sight

“I have migraine with aura that comes on very quickly. I immediately lose my ability to see. That means if I am driving alone somewhere, I’m essentially lost. It’s a really helpless feeling.”

– Migraine.com Community Member


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Understanding the impact

Migraine can interfere with almost every aspect of our lives and make our day-to-day tasks so much tougher to complete. It is not always easy for others to grasp just how much the disease affects us. But by having open, honest conversations, we can work together to bring awareness of migraine’s reach.

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Poll

Do you worry about when your next migraine will strike?