Questioning someone else’s pain

Living with migraines is tough most days. It can be lonely and depressing. It takes a lot of effort and willpower to make the most of each day. Having a good support system is essential. Support groups are even better.

Here’s what many just don’t get…

How in the world can anyone who gets migraines ever lack empathy for another migraine patient? Sure, each of us has a unique experience. Some of us get occasional attacks that are treated effectively. Others have found a way to control trigger exposure so well that they no longer experience attacks. Yet there are so many who struggle daily with unrelenting pain.

It is difficult to understand how someone can be in pain 24/7. Our minds cannot process this, so we send out “mental blocks” and struggle to believe it is true. We think, “Surely there is something that can be done.” When the poor suffering patient drops their gaze and shakes their head, our first instinct is to run through a litany of possible solutions. As the patient begins to repeat their mantra, “Tried that. It didn’t work.” our frustration mounts. We begin to wonder if they are lying. We question the reality of their pain. We think, “No one can be in that much pain all the time!”…but they can.

I have friends who never get a break from migraine pain. Their pain sits at a level 7 or higher all the time. No wonder they struggle with depression and anxiety! It’s a miracle they find the strength to get out of bed each day.

The sad truth is that some don’t.

As bad as it is for us to struggle with believing them, imagine how these patients feel when they get that kind of response from doctors. They fight so hard and only ask for help when absolutely necessary. But they are desperate, willing to do anything to ease their pain. When in crisis, they beg for relief and are sometimes turned away over and over again. They lose hope.

If you are one of these patients, I wish I could send you to my headache specialist and my local emergency room for treatment. You deserve the kind of care I have. You have my respect, my prayers, and my love.

If you only occasionally get a migraine or are one of the lucky few in remission, take a minute to think back to your last attack. Remember how it felt before you took your medicine or slept it off. What if one day your medicine stopped working? What if you woke from that nap and the pain still hung on? What if it never went away? How would you work, live, or play ever again?

Before you dismiss that person who is always in pain, try to imagine living that life. And then tell me, could you really do any better?

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