My (Blank) Gets Migraines, Too

“I know someone who gets migraines, too.” To many migraineurs, this sentence is all too familiar.

Learning to share my migraine experience

I have spent the majority of my migraine diagnosis underplaying the toll of my migraines. I have slowly been learning to embrace my migraines and admit to myself and others the immense toll they have on my life. I was hesitant to talk about my migraines before for a few reasons: I didn’t want to be judged, I didn’t want to constantly explain my migraines, and I wanted to believe that migraines were not a “big deal.” I first learned about the benefits of talking about my migraines when I took an Intro to Disabilities course in college. Before that point, I thought everything was fine as it was with my migraine, but when I took that class, I began to realize that I needed to get more help for my migraines, and I needed to open up about my experience with migraines.

Statements that minimize my experience

Talking about my experience with migraine is a work in progress, but I’ve slowly been getting better at it. One of the things that emerged as I began talking about my migraines is the phrase “my relative/friend gets migraines too,” or some variation thereof. Along with this sentiment also comes the “this treatment worked for my relative/friend.” These sentiments have always bugged me. At first, I didn’t understand why, but I’ve come to realize that, to me, it minimizes my (and other’s) experience with migraine.

Everyone's migraine experience is different

I was talking to a friend once and I expressed my frustration with this sentiment. They responded by saying that these people were just trying to relate. I understand that most people have good intentions. They are trying to help, and I appreciate that, but no experience with migraine is universal. Just because your family member or friend also has migraines doesn’t mean that their experience is like mine. I do appreciate getting to know and hear stories from fellow migraineurs, but blanket statements about migraines and migraine treatment are generally more harmful than helpful.

Treatment options for migraine

Likewise, there are treatments that work for others that don’t work for me and vice versa. One of my worst experiences with this was with a doctor, who wasn’t my neurologist. I told them about my migraines because they can cause complications with certain medications. The doctor basically just told me that I needed to do Botox injections because it was “cheap,” and I wouldn’t have migraines for a year. Botox injections have helped many people with migraine, and that’s great! I am glad that it is a treatment option, but I have also known people that have gotten no relief whatsoever from Botox injections and despite what that doctor said, Botox is not “cheap” or a cure-all.

Learning from others

Maybe some migraineurs find it comforting to hear that other people have migraines, but for me I find it diminutive. I hope to have open conversations about migraines and learn about others with migraine, not just that they have them.

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