Sometimes I “fake it”Last Updated:
Migraineurs are in good company with other painful “invisible” illnesses. We are all accused of “faking it” sooner or later. Sometimes we are labeled “hypochondriacs” and the severity or frequency of our symptoms is questioned. We even question each other when symptoms vary.
Do you ever fake or exaggerate symptoms?
Very few of us actually do. It is more likely that we fake “being healthy” because we know that others are uncomfortable with or don’t want to be bothered with knowledge of our symptoms. This can hurt us when we hide our symptoms from people who really do care.
The lifestyle of faking it
I spent nearly 40 years trying to hide the true impact of migraine. I would admit the diagnosis but deny the severity of my limitations. I didn’t want to be viewed as weak or unable to do the job, so I faked being healthier than I really was.
- I exaggerated the effectiveness of my preventives.
- I minimized the estimated “down time” of any given migraine.
- I ignored the early warning signs in order to complete a task or project.
- I avoided taking medication in front of others.
- I delayed treatment so that no one would know I was having a migraine attack.
- I silently worked through ancephalgic migraines.
- I drove during some horrific migraine attacks.
- I convinced myself that it wasn’t really a migraine unless I threw up.
Even now, there are times when I will temporarily hide my pain. Most of the time, I suppress my pain expression to avoid alarming my granddaughter. I still take medicine and use ice packs, but I am mindful of my facial expressions. At just one year old, she does not have the emotional skills to deal with Grandma’s pain. So I smile when I want to cry.
I also hide my pain in public sometimes because I don’t want to draw attention to myself. I’ve learned how to discreetly address my symptoms so that I take care of my needs without telling the world I’m dealing with migraine.
I also hide subconsciously. After a lifetime of dealing with pain, I’ve learned to tolerate it most of the time. I’m not really trying to disguise my symptoms. I simply don’t react to mild or moderate pain the way most healthy people do. It takes a lot for me to wince, frown, or express discomfort. If you do notice these pain behaviors, it’s because my pain level has reached an 8 or higher.
So yes, I do fake it.