Chronic pain, including migraines, can strain even the closest relationships. Learning how to manage migraine headache symptoms without alienating your friends and family is a difficult, but worthwhile, mission that all migraine patients need to learn. Here are some strategies that will make that task a bit easier to accomplish.
Don’t get migraine trigger-happy
Migraines are a loaded gun, and sometimes you’re tempted to aim them at your closest friends. You’re not alone in this sentiment- almost every chronic pain patient has had the frustrating experience of trying to explain to deaf ears the concept of migraine triggers and the excruciating headaches they cause…not to mention the eye pain, nausea, stomach cramps, vomiting, vertigo, and countless other migraine attack symptoms that apply.
There is hope.
Here are some expert tips on keeping relationships close while keeping migraines very far away…
Choose your words
Migraines are one aspect of your life that will always need explaining. Whether it’s a missed lunch date or showing up to work an hour late because of migraines, there will be many scenarios in your relationships where you’ll feel pressured to find the right words to explain chronic pain without offending or disappointing others- a difficult task when you’re in the middle of a stage 3 migraine attack.
Instead of just “winging it” and risking losing your job and your friends, plan what you’re going to say in each social situation:
- To your loved ones, be honest. Explain to them that you suffer from immense pain, and that you struggle with feelings of anger, depression, and despair. Or, talk to a therapist about how migraines affect your relationships. Either way, you have to find a release for your emotional suffering, lest it come out in an angry outburst, instead.
- When people make offhand comments to you like “why can’t you just take an Advil,” or ,”well, my mom gets headaches all the time, but she doesn’t let it keep her from working,” try not to get defensive. If possible, calmly explain that migraine headaches are a symptom of a neurological disorder, and that what works for one person in treating migraine headaches might not work for many others.
- When you must cancel plans like going to a birthday, kindly emphasize that you are truly sorry that you have to miss the occasion, and that you will do all in your power to show up if you are able.
- To your boss, explain that you suffer from chronic migraines, and that you will make up any time missed from work when you are recuperated. That will help to strengthen your work relationship and keep you employed.
Helping Others Understand Migraines- 8 Communication Tips
Talk about it on a good day
Most of us can’t focus on having a serious conversation about relationships while we’re in the middle of a migraine with aura. The next time you have a day without pain, or at least a day that registers #3 on the pain charts, try to have an impromptu discussion with certain people about how migraines are affecting you, and ways they can help.
Give them a rain check
Instead of completely cancelling activities with your friends, try to schedule something for a different date- an activity that is relatively migraine-free. Your friends and family will be less disappointed if they know that you truly want to see them, and that you are trying to work them into your life.
Give yourself a household chore…any chore
Think of inventive ways to contribute to household chores that don’t trigger migraines. If pushing a vacuum cleaner leaves you with a pounding headache, then either delegate that chore to somebody else, or find a way to keep the carpet clean by brushing with a wet broom, for example. Try washing the dishes while seated, by pushing a tall stool over to the sink.
Including yourself in household tasks, at any level, is crucial for maintaining a healthy relationship with your family.
Migraine Sufferer to World: It’s not just a Headache, People!
Join a migraine community
Can’t relate to non-migraineurs? Join the crowd. Both online and in person, many migraine support groups are available that provide a venue for your venting…without raising your blood pressure. For starters, join Migravent on Facebook!
Lean on them
Many times, migraine sufferers’ relationships become strained because others want to help, but don’t know how to ask. Don’t be shy about enlisting your friends and family in your fight against migraine disorder. Ask for help, if for no other reason than to give people a chance to do something for you.
Remember, caring is not something you feel, but something that requires practice.
Cut them some slack
We are all flawed human beings, and some of us are just not cut out for nursing…or even making sensitive comments when it’s appropriate. Don’t hold grudges against people who fail you; just accept that many of us are “damaged goods,” and try to empathize. Let go of the people who really hurt you, and try to live with the rest.
Please tell us…
Have you found that chronic pain has taught you who your friends are? Please share your experiences and life lessons.
Do you have any questions or suggestions? Please leave your comments below.
Tell your friends!
If you found this article helpful, then please share with your friends, family, and coworkers by email, Facebook, or Google+.
Read more about migraines and relationships:
35 Things you should never tell a Chronic Migraine Sufferer
Managing your Migraines at Work- 4 Healthy Changes in Attitude
How to Manage Relationships & M Words
When Migraines Endanger Our Friendships