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LET'S TALK MIGRAINE

What does 'Normal' Mean
to Someone with Migraine?

Wendy Byde

From an early age, I used to dream about my future. I would have a great job that paid well, and a home filled with kids that I’d be able to hug and play with after work. And we’d all go on spectacular vacations that would fill me with unlimited happiness and joy. This is what I considered to be a normal life.

My reality is similar, but far from my definition of “normal.” I never imagined that my adult life would include something as awful as living with migraine. But it does. When a migraine attack comes on, it literally ruins the entire day. Poof. All plans out the window. Sometimes, even the migraine hangover can continue to impact me for many days afterward.

Being a “migraineur” can make you feel like you’re stuck behind a 2-way mirror, where nobody can see and nobody can hear you. So you stand there, watching everybody else enjoying themselves while you long to join in, knowing you probably can’t. It’s a feeling that you’re utterly powerless over.

What I never imagined was my life as an adult would include something as awful as living with migraine.

As someone with migraine, my “regular” days go 1 of 3 ways:

  1. I wake up with a migraine attack
  2. I encounter a migraine attack sometime throughout the day
  3. I make it all the way to bed at night and think to myself, “Phew, not one migraine attack today.”

It’s constantly on my mind and I don’t like living that way.

One of the greatest challenges associated with having migraine is that it is sort of an “invisible illness” in terms of what the rest of the world sees. Unless you verbalize to those around you that you are suffering from one, they would honestly never know. Often times, this can prove to be extra challenging for you.

So you stand there, watching everybody else enjoying themselves while you long to join in, knowing you probably can’t.

I don’t like it, but this is my reality.

I didn’t choose to have migraine, after all, it’s just a part of my life. Migraine attacks can be unpredictable, and almost anything can be a trigger. The stress of being late for your presentation, the sudden rainstorm on a warm day, or the lingering scent of perfume in an elevator can be enough to set off migraine. Migraine seems to come at me from all directions, with no predictability. That’s my normal, unpredictable life.

But at least being able to describe this unpredictable life can be helpful for everybody—not only me, but the coworkers, family and friends in my life. I may not even recognize the way migraine is affecting me, but someone else might. It may be uncomfortable for someone to ask about, but talking about it can help me feel more comfortable, and might just be enlightening for others. Believe me, having people at least understand my regular, everyday life with migraine can be a huge help. Thanks for listening.

About the Author

Wendy Byde is a lifestyle blogger and mother from Orange County, CA. She teaches 1st grade and has a BA and MA in Elementary Education. She’s had migraine since college.

Wendy B. is a real migraine patient. She has been compensated for her time.