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How to Talk About Migraine With Those Who Don’t Get It

Jason G.

“It feels like there is an inflating balloon inside my head.”

“I feel like a vise grip is attached to my skull and squeezing everything together.”

“Every sound is a beating drum.”

“The smallest bit of light is blinding.”

People with migraine have a list of phrases we use to describe our pain.

Most of the time, we keep those descriptions to ourselves. Why? Because it's difficult to explain what this neurological disease is like. So, we keep it to ourselves and let our squinting and hunched over appearance speak for us, if at all.

People with migraine so badly want the rest of the world to understand our pain that we go to great lengths trying to persuade others that we really are going through something intense. There are no physical scars telling tales of past migraine attacks. We can’t walk around with a tourniquet around our heads, nor can we put on a bandage to stop the pounding.

People with migraine so badly want the rest of the world to understand our pain that we go to great lengths trying to persuade others that we really are going through something intense. There are no physical scars telling tales of past migraine attacks. We can’t walk around with a tourniquet around our heads, nor can we put on a bandage to stop the pounding.

As important as migraine may seem, it’s just as important to talk about how migraine can limit our ability to accomplish even the most mundane tasks. Share your limitations and what the outcome could be if not addressed. Comparing the pain to vise grips and freight trains is easy to understand but explaining how the simple act of preparing a meal can cause me to vomit is a better way to express how migraine really affects everyday life.

As important as migraine may seem, it’s just as important to talk about how migraine can limit our ability to accomplish even the most mundane tasks. Share your limitations and what the outcome could be if not addressed. Comparing the pain to vise grips and freight trains is easy to understand but explaining how the simple act of preparing a meal can cause me to vomit is a better way to express how migraine really affects everyday life.

Validation and understanding is key for those who suffer from migraine. We want our families to understand what we are experiencing, without the need to justify by providing a convoluted explanation. While in the midst of a migraine attack, freedom to withdraw and heal is appreciated. The support of those around us makes it easier to cope during migraine attacks – whether the attack be in the form of a balloon, vise grip, or drum.

About the Author

Jason G. is a stay-at-home dad blogger, a travel blogger, a public speaker, and a soccer coach from New York. Jason was an original participant in the Speak Your Migraine video series. He's had migraine since 1985.

Jason G. is a real migraine patient. He has been compensated for his time.