What I’ve Learned on My Migraine Journey
When I was growing up, my mom often told me, “You need to be able to take care of yourself no matter what life sends your way.” I took her words to heart and developed into an educated career woman who was quite capable of living her own life.
Migraine disease has other ideas about how I should live my life and insists on getting in the way from time to time. Like any good story’s villain, migraine desires control over its victim. Most of the time, I’m able to fight my own battles against my illness with assistance from medication and other treatment techniques. Seldom do I reach out for help from people around me.
Asking for help is one of the most difficult things for me to do. I suppose I’ve grown accustomed to taking care of myself. I bet a lot of people reading this are nodding their heads in understanding right now. Why do we do this? Why do we hesitate to ask for help when we need it most?
I Don’t Want to Interfere
I know everyone is just as busy as I am, and I don’t want to be a bother. I feel burdensome when I must ask friends and family for help. The last thing I want is to be a disruptive inconvenience in someone else’s life. I’m sure many of you understand this sentiment.
The problem with that logic is that when fate turns the tables and someone asks me for help, I don’t feel bothered. Quite the opposite is true. I feel good about helping the ones I care about. There is no reason for me to believe my friends and family feel any different about helping me.
Needing Help Is Not a Sign of Weakness
Throughout my 30-year career as an accountant, the biggest reason I had for going it alone when migraine reared its ugly head was the fear of others seeing me as weak. Bosses and co-workers might interpret my illness as a sign of weakness and jump to the conclusion that I’m incapable of handling my responsibilities.
The truth of the matter is that migraine warriors are some of the toughest and most determined people I know. We’re also quite adept at managing a problem. Strength, determination, and problem-solving skills are excellent qualities for an employee and are far from the definition of weakness.
Judgmental Reactions Are an Opportunity to Teach
Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like the world has become a meaner, more judgmental place. I’ve had people openly question the validity of my illness and minimize it by comparing it to a regular headache. A few times, I’ve had an acquaintance suggest migraine episodes are a figment of my imagination or a convenient way for me to impose control on a situation.
If my attempts to dispel their misconceptions are to no avail, then such people aren’t members of my migraine team. It takes time and effort to find the group of people who are good for you, but it can be done. A good support structure helps ease the pain of dealing with a migraine episode.
Educate your team on what they can do to help you prevent and treat your illness. If you teach your support team how to best help you, they will feel empowered to be there for you, and you will find it less difficult to reach out for help when you need it most. Whether face-to-face or through social media groups, the help you need is out there.
Tap into a community of fellow migraineurs on Facebook. Learn, share, and connect in our Migraine Support Community.
Originally published at WebMD.com on 11-6-23.