College Rejection and Migraine Stigmatism
Last updated: May 2023
Recently I was rejected by my dream college. This seems like a sentence that almost everyone has said but to me it's different. I live with chronic migraines as well as a daily headache that hasn't dissipated for six long years. College admissions stressed me out but only because they make you wait an eon for a reply but because my migraines had a significant impact on my life and grades. During my sophomore and junior year my migraines were so severe that I would black out three times a week. Combine that with doctors appointments, additional tests, trips to the ED, and the regular migraines where you can't leave your bed I missed a lot of school and my grades suffer. I always maintained a passing grade and for the most part still achieved average grades but this wasn't good enough for "my" school.
Do I feel like I deserve admission to what ever college I want? No. Do I feel like my migraines have ruined another great opportunity in my life? Yes. Do I feel like if this was a more socially acceptable disease that I would have gotten special consideration? Absolutely. The rejection left with a feeling every migraine suffer knows all to well; defeat. You could have experienced it when your medication stopped working, when you couldn't go to that family event, or just when you couldn't get out of bed. I felt like my migraines had snatched yet another opportunity away from me. Like no matter what I do they will always be there to hold me back. While this may seem extreme for a college rejection; you have to understand I had built my whole future around getting into this school. Not only did I feel defeated but I felt angry. I was so angry because people refused to acknowledge what people with migraines go through.
When I first went into the neurologist I had to go in for an EKG, EGG, MRI, and a CT. Even though I was only thirteen at the time I knew exactly what they were looking for on that MRI. Since I had been blacking out they were checking to make sure it wasn't a tumor. But does anyone think about what that thought does to a kid? No they sit there and think it's only a headache get over it. The fact is non-migraine suffers just don't understand how debilitating migraines are. They don't understand the nausea, the sensitivity to sound, the way you can actually hear the nerves firing in your head, and that it is not just a headache. I feel like the admissions department didn't take me seriously when I said I have chronic migraines. And I can't blame them because they really just don't know. I have days where whole body parts go numb and I can't even get out of bed to pee because I am so dizzy I can't stand. Migraines are not just a pounding in your head.
Even though I feel so utterly defeated right now and I've been none stop crying for a hour (which I am sure I will pay for tomorrow-grr triggers) I refuse to let migraines beat me. They have been mentally and physically beating me up for most of my life but I refuse to let them win. I just finished writing an appeal to the college; which to be honest probably won't do anything but at least I did something. And there is always transferring in after a few years. Even though we may not be able to control our migraines we can control how they are perceived. Turning around migraine stigma starts with us. I urge you to put yourself out there and help people to understand it is more that a headache. Start small educate your friends and family. Their understanding can leas to you having a closer relationship because they now understand what you're going through! Also they can share what they've learned with others. When you hear someone spouting false knowledge about migraines correct them don't just sit in silence. Be the change you want to see. Even though non migraine sufferers may never fully understand what we go through we can help give them a piece of the puzzle. An added bonus more public interest leads to more research and maybe one day a cure. Even in the worst situations don't let your migraines defeat you. Don't become a victim of your own condition.
Do you have a migraine toolbox for when an attack hits?
Join the conversation