Speaking Gobblygook During Migraine

While I have difficulty word finding during many attacks, usually I’m talking to friends, my husband, or my coworkers when it first happens. (When I’m at one of my bookshops and I begin to notice this happening, I will try to get another bookseller to take over any duties that involve speaking to humans coherently, and I’ll work on another task as long as I feel well enough.)

Unable to find basic vocabulary words

A few months ago, I went to my favorite burrito place and held up the line the tiniest bit because I couldn’t think of basic vocabulary words. Watch here:


Have you ever been in public and found yourself unable to speak coherently? Please share your stories from the migraine front here! 

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View Comments (13)
  • mcadwell
    4 months ago

    I call this verbal dyslexia! It happens quite often to me. I can’t think of the words (one time I called a kitchen appliance the “dirty dishes garage” because I couldn’t think of dishwasher) or they come out garbled (“washing the clothes” could come out as “clashing the woes”). I’m so glad I’m not the only one that does this!

  • TXmama
    4 months ago

    Yes! I had this happen to me about 9 years ago as I was reading a bedtime story to my then 6 year old. I knew the words on the page, but when it came out of my mouth it was gibberish! My daughter thought it was funny and ran to tell her dad about it. By that time I could speak coherently, but very slowly. My husband, who is a physician, thought I was having a stroke! I did not have any head pain at that time. We called my neurologist, who told me to go immediately to the ER. On the way there the headache part of the migraine started. At the ER I was given a stat brain MRI and then dx with Complex migraines. Thank God it hasn’t happened again since, but I often do have trouble finding words when I have a migraine in process. So sorry you experience this too!

  • Soteria
    10 months ago

    Oh sheesh – yes. In a really severe migraine attack I can’t even remember my name – no kidding. The ability of my brain to go and retrieve information just doesn’t work. Usually end up in the ER with the really bad ones, and when they ask my name, I have to visualize my driver’s license – that’s the only way I can remember what it is. Non-migraineurs don’t understand that it’s more than just a headache – it’s a complete neurological event.

  • DNAlabratStudy
    1 year ago

    I do have this problem on a daily bases (learning disability), but find it becomes horribly worse during migraines.

  • DNAlabratStudy
    1 year ago

    I do have this problem on a daily bases (learning disability), but find it becomes horribly during migraines.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    12 months ago

    That sounds tough! I can imagine it’s extra frustrating when you have a migraine. Thanks for the comment.

    -Janet G.

  • AnnieK
    1 year ago

    Thanks for the video, I’m going to share it with my husband. When I have a migraine I sometimes can’t find words or just stop talking in mid-sentence. My husband gently suggests that this would not happen if I’d only concentrate harder. Maybe this video will give him some perspective.

  • headmatters
    1 year ago

    Hi, my speech goes askew even before the migraine pain has arrived and can sometimes give me advance warning that one is on the way. My son remembers well my asking for a pound of ‘wardrobe’ at a vegetable stall in the market when in fact I wanted ‘rhubarb’ !! There are usually a few letters correct or a similar number of syllables. It’s very frustrating.

  • Ld5townsend
    1 year ago

    From Luna, who said she knows the word but can’t verbalize it. Yes, that is me. I haven’t had the very public experience that Migraine Girl described, but often I will realize I am having trouble with basic language, even before the pain hits. Then I get to look forward to that. Yea!

  • Luna
    1 year ago

    Often when I can’t find “the word” I can remember the letter it starts with. My neighbor is good at those guessing games. Then there are the times when I relate quite well to what parmes said. I have wanted to join the conversation and had something to say but get part way into it and have had to just say something about lost it and don’t have the energy to find it. Or it is there in the mind but it just won’t verbalize. Then occasionally I will be thinking about something and forget what I was thinking about in the middle of the thought. Oh what joy life can be.

  • Ronan
    1 year ago

    Left a comment on the FB page. I so feel for you.

  • RobinfromCA
    1 year ago

    I’m with you. It’s so frustrating to know there’s a word floating around in there you can’t pull forward! The other problem for me is names. Sometimes I just can’t remember the name of someone I’ve known forever. I’ve gotten to the point where I just say “Sorry, I have migraine brain today.” I hope you got to enjoy your burrito with the red chunky things and the green stuff. Maybe I’ll have that for lunch today!

  • parmes
    1 year ago

    Ugh, yes. Constantly. I’m that 20-something guy that obsessively carries all of the paper sudoku/search-a-word books with him and wears headphones with no music playing just so people can’t talk to me. Conversation isn’t pleasant when you’re in constant pain and can’t finish a sentence but the worst is when you’re super excited about what you want to say, then you try to say it, and blah comes out. Just mush. Or the person you’re talking to is staring at you all expectantly and you realize you only said it in your head, and now you have to try and remember. … Ah crap.

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