4 Things I Want People to Know About My Chronic Migraines


Chronic migraine headaches are a problem that aren’t acknowledged very often, but more than 11 million people in the United States “blame migraines for their moderate to severe disability,” according to Migraine.com. An issue this big deserves to have some light shone on it.

Unfortunately, people with migraines can face additional hardships when family members, friends, teachers, co-workers and others don’t understand how bad it all truly is. When this goes misunderstood, conflicts can arise when a person with a migraine can’t meet the expectations of those around them.

This is something I have grown all too familiar with. My school work isn’t getting done, my other obligations are being abandoned and just existing has been a struggle. It’s gotten harder, since my teachers and parents are no longer understanding and many misconceptions are formed around it.

So here are some of the things I’d like more people to understand about chronic migraines. (Boy, I just love debunking misconceptions, don’t I?)

1. I’m not avoiding you.

Canceled plan after canceled plan after canceled plan. I understand how this could be frustrating, and it may even seem like I don’t want to be around people. In reality, this actually kills me. I would love to be able to be around people more often, but unless you’re cool with just sitting around in a darkened room with me in silence, it’s probably for the best that I remain by myself.

On my good days, I do everything I can to get out and have fun because I know another migraine could strike any moment and leave me bedridden once again. So please know that I’m not avoiding you. I just can’t get out of bed without extreme pain more than half the time.

2. It’s not just an excuse to do nothing.

This is one of the most frustrating things I’ve had to explain to people. I’m not just being lazy — I legitimately can’t get stuff done. Have you ever tried to read or write or complete any task with a headache? Even with a mild headache, tasks become a lot more daunting, don’t they? That’s exactly how it feels when trying to get work done with chronic migraines, the only difference being that it’s a near daily inconvenience as opposed to every once in a while.

I sit through my classes and can hardly able to absorb anything because my head hurts so badly. I may even “go to the bathroom,” so I can cry it out for a little bit before returning to class. Then I return home and am expected to complete a mountain of work while feeling nauseous, and I just want to lie down in the dark and sleep.

Anyone I try to talk to about this issue just tells me “I need to get it done” or “try breaking it all up into manageable pieces.” That isn’t possible when even opening my eyes causes severe pain to rip through my skull.

3. I’m not faking my migraine.

The one thing that upsets me more than people thinking I’m using my migraines as an excuse are people who think I’m lying about it altogether.

My migraines render me unable to accomplish the most basic of things. What makes a person think I would fake something to the extent of potentially ruining my future? My grades in my classes have plummeted, I hardly practice my musical instruments anymore, I haven’t completed a decent piece of art in over a year and I can hardly leave my house. These things fuel my depression and make it hard to accomplish anything even when I’m not in intense pain. How could I ever wish this on myself?

4. I know it’s hard to deal with. But it’s harder for me.

For those close to people who have chronic migraines, I know it can be hard to be there for us. It’s not fun to nurse someone who can’t even open their eyes or talk to let you know what they need. It’s an understatement to say that it’s hard to deal with.

But please remember that it’s even harder for the person with the migraine. They’re the ones in physical agony and emotional turmoil. They probably feel bad for inconveniencing you, for ruining your day and for ruining their own day. Plus, they are probably worried about dealing with all of the above misconceptions.

Follow this journey on Kat’s Social Justice Blog.

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