Many individuals who suffer from chronic migraines feel alone and isolated by their pain. Unless someone has felt the affects of a true migraine attack, it’s difficult to relate and that makes a migraineurs battle all-the-more challenging. But holding in your fears, angst, anger and sorrow won’t make the fight for quality of life any more attainable and in fact, it could induce your next attack. When it comes to migraines, communication can be the ultimate relief. Allow yourself to vent with these 7 outlets:
Your family is your greatest ally in the fight for resolution. Don’t be afraid to talk with them about what you’re going through, how you feel and what your fears are. They know you better than anyone else and may have insight that changes your way of thinking. Communication is also an essential element to maintaining a strong bond with them during your struggle. It may be hard for them to relate to what you’re going through, but letting them in on something as life altering as chronic migraines is nonetheless important. If they are made aware of your plight, they will also be more likely to offer extra help around the house, giving you time to focus on feeling better.
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Sometimes, you just need to vent outside of your immediate family, and that’s OK. Friends make for the perfect outlet. Talk about your frustrations and allow yourself to feel emotions. Hearing yourself talk out loud about the problem enables you to process your situation and accept what’s happening with a renewed sense of self, and this acceptance may be just what you need to face your next migraine battle.
Like family, your friends are also an excellent source for help. Allow yourself to lean on them when you need to. Ask them for assistance with picking up your kids, running errands or preparing meals when you are under a migraine attack. Even if they don’t fully understand your struggle, a good friend will be there for you and that might just be the relief you need to start feeling better.
Many migraineurs try to hide their symptoms at work, fearing that, if co-workers or management finds out they suffer from a chronic illness, they may not be treated the same or worse – they could be seen as less capable of doing their job. But trying to cover up the fact that you do in fact suffer from a sometimes-debilitating condition can make you seem dishonest and the double life could confuse co-workers.
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Transparency is the best policy, especially when it comes to work. Talk to your superiors about your chronic migraines and reduce your own anxiety about missing work by developing a game plan for how to handle sudden migraine attacks so that you and your employer feel mutually benefited. Be open with co-workers about what chronic migraines are and how they impact your life. They will hopefully be more understanding when you need to spend your lunch hour in peace and quiet or duck out early to battle an attack. If you’re lucky, they may even prove to be a huge help when you are absent, filling you in on meeting notes, covering small tasks and making sure you are able to stay in the loop despite being away from your desk.
Online Support Groups
No one gets what you’re going through quite like a fellow migraineur. When the going gets tough and you feel like not even your family or friends understand, get involved with others fighting the same battle. There are a plethora of online support groups that allow you to seek help from the comfort of your own home – an ideal outlet if you’re inherently shy. Support groups like, Daily Strength, offer a forum for migraine sufferers to post their thoughts, feelings, questions or comments regarding chronic migraine syndrome. Other support group members can then respond and interact with posts, generating conversation around the thoughts that weigh heavily on your mind. By reaching out to a network of sufferers, just like you, you may discover migraine relief options that you haven’t thought of yet and at the very least, you can converse with others who understand exactly what you’re going through.
Social media has opened a new channel for migraine sufferers to communicate their pain and frustration with others. Facebook offers support groups that members can join to get information about chronic migraine syndrome and share their thoughts and feelings by posting to the support group wall. Twitter has also become an active place for migraineurs to share their experiences in real time.
What is truly remarkable about participating in social media support (aside from gaining support the moment you need it) is that researchers are tapping in to real time information sharing about when and how often migraines impact our society as a whole – data that could help to connect some of the dots that make up the picture for what causes chronic migraines. Using social media as an outlet for communication has also helped bring awareness to the migraine community, which it desperately needed.
Offline Support Groups
While online support groups are great, nothing quite replaces that in-person connection that can be felt at an offline support group. The Migraine Research Foundation offers a number of resources that can help you find a support group in your area. Participate in regular meetings and make a more human connection with others struggling from chronic migraines. You can help one another stay informed about new advancements, consider all the different options available for treatment and, above all else, find solace on your journey to migraine relief.
Most importantly, communicate with your physicians about how you’re feeling, whether medications are helping and any side effects (physical or mental) you are experiencing. In order to help you find the best possible treatment, doctors must have insight into how you are responding to over-the-counter and prescription treatments. Without communicating, you are essentially asking your physician to treat you blindly. Your physician may also be able to recommend different resources and support groups to help you find mental and emotional relief.
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You don’t have to suffer in silence and furthermore, your communication could help to bring more awareness to the chronic migraine community. Involve your family in your journey and allow yourself to depend on family and friends for help with life’s demands when a migraine strikes. Get involved with online and offline support groups that will put you in communication with other sufferers that understand your journey better than anyone else. Don’t be afraid to talk about your condition with co-workers and employers. They may be able to take a great deal of stress away by negating your resolve to work through a migraine attack. Lastly, talk to your doctor(s) about your chronic migraine syndrome and the treatments you’re taking. They may be able to provide you with better migraine relief options based the conversations you have with them.
Image Source: Sebastien Wiertz