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12 Unique Ways to Show Up for a Friend With Migraine

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My life with chronic migraine is no walk in the park. However, the fact that most of my friends also live with a health condition means that they all understand my life at least a little bit. Many of them show up for me in unexpected ways day in and day out, and I’m incredibly thankful for that.

Obviously, even people who don’t live with health conditions want to help their friends who live with migraine. Yet knowing the right things to say and do can be hard if you don’t live with a chronic illness. Hopefully, though, this list of 12 unique ways to show up for your friend with migraine will help you out.

1. Believe them when they share their experiences with migraine.

Unfortunately, a lot of people brush off migraine symptoms because people who live with migraine don’t usually “look” sick. Friends, coworkers, and sometimes even doctors will dismiss our pain and compare it to a run-of-the-mill headache (which it’s not). So, one of the best ways you can show up for a friend with migraine is by merely listening and believing them when they tell you about their symptoms.

2. Stand up for them when people are dismissive of their migraine symptoms.

Although some people will outright say they don’t believe migraine is as bad as people say it is, others will nod along and then turn around and laugh behind our backs. When this happens within earshot for you, you have the choice to go along with it or stand up for your friend with migraine. Always stand up for your friend — they appreciate it more than you’ll ever know.

3. Learn their migraine triggers.

Most people who live with migraine have a list of identified triggers. This list includes items, settings, and sensory factors that can intensify their symptoms or start a migraine attack. You can help your friend immensely by learning these triggers so you can help your friend avoid them. This may mean you skip the perfume when you hang out together or you don’t plan a bar crawl for your next birthday party, but believe me — your friend will appreciate you showing up for them in this amazing way.

4. Drop off dinner when they can’t get out of bed due to migraine.

Some days, people who live with migraine can’t get out of bed due to their symptoms. Other days, they have no choice but to push through and work even though their symptoms make it difficult. But you know what your friend will have a hard time doing at the end of either of those days? Making themselves dinner. If you know your friend has had a rough day with migraine or their entire week has been a nightmare, just show up at their doorstep with some dinner. It will make their day.

5. Tag along for their appointments.

Real talk: nobody likes doctors’ appointments. Whether they happen once a year or once a month, they can be stressful, and even downright boring. However, having a loved one alongside you as you sit in the waiting area for what feels like forever or prepare for a series of tests can really make an otherwise unpleasant situation much better. If you have time and know your friend is worried about an upcoming appointment, offer to tag along — it’ll make them so happy.

6. Pick up their groceries.

For people with migraine, even simple tasks like picking up a curbside grocery order can be tricky sometimes. I mean, would you want to try to operate a vehicle when it feels like someone put your head into a pair of vice grips and you feel like you’d rather stab your eyes out than leave the bed? Luckily, it’s not hard for a friend who lives nearby to pick up said grocery order and drop everything off at home.

7. Gift them a migraine care package.

Thoughtful gifts are always a great way to show a friend you care. For a friend who lives with migraine, consider building a migraine care kit filled with items that help them manage migraine symptoms. If you aren’t sure where to start, there are lots of ideas on Etsy, or you can check out the list here.

8. Be flexible with plans.

I can tell you that your friend with migraine wishes they could commit to any and all plans without worry. Unfortunately, many of us have little to no control over when a migraine attack strikes, which means we sometimes have to cancel plans at the last minute. Yes, it’s frustrating, but if you can remain supportive and understanding, your friend will feel so much better.

9. Treat them to a spa day.

Anything that provides relaxation is a blessing for people who live with migraine. Many times, these relaxation measures can include things like facials, pedicures, and massages. Your friend will love a spa day with you, and you get the benefit of some pampering too. (Note: Do check with your friend first to make sure you don’t plan anything that may trigger migraine symptoms as certain aromas can cause issues for people with migraine.)

10. Plan activities to do at home.

For many people with migraine, outings that require leaving the house for extended periods of time can be tricky at best. While we love to go out to dinner with you, sometimes what we really need is a quiet night in with the latest binge-worthy show or our favorite card games. So, you can really show up for your friend with migraine by planning a fun night at home filled with activities and laughter. Again, trust me when I say your friend will love you for doing this.

11. Spring for a cleaning service.

Like cooking, cleaning is another aspect of independent living that can often be difficult for people who live with migraine. Unfortunately, the more we neglect to clean, the worse it gets. So, if you know we’ve been having a hard time keeping up with the household chores for a hot minute, offering to help us clean or hiring a cleaning service can be a godsend.

12. Ask them what they need.

Although this list offers a lot of great ideas, they may not always encompass what your individual friend needs most at the moment. However, your friend will love it if you simply ask them how you can best help and support them. So just ask!

Getty photo by MStudio Images.

Originally published: May 2, 2022
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