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Migraine and Headache Education for Those Who "Don't Get It"

Resources to help you educate others

by Teri Robert, Lead Expert

In our forum, our members' SharePosts, and my email correspondence with Migraineurs, there is a very distressing recurring problem being brought to my attention. The problem is that entirely too many people do not understand us and our disease. These people include:

  • doctors and other medical professionals who still don't know that Migraine is a neurological disease. Some of them still recommend over-the-counter meds that don't help, some want to send us to a psychiatrist because it's "all in our heads," still others think we're "drug seekers."
  • spouses, other family members, and friends who plain "don't get it." There are those who really try, but just plain don't understand. There are others who really think they understand, but they're misinformed. Some get impatient when we can't do things. Others distance themselves from us. Some may either not know or not believe that the perfume they insist on wearing when they visit makes us deathly ill. Migraine is a devastating disease. It can be devastating to marriages, other familial relationships, and friendships.
  • bosses and coworkers who don't understand and won't do anything to accommodate us, but are only too glad to criticize or penalize us. Migraine Disease has ruined many careers. The work environment is probably where we have the least control over our exposure to triggers. The lighting may be totally fluorescent. Coworkers may wear strong fragrances. Supervisors may be unwilling to allow Migraineurs to come in late or leave early during a Migraine attack.

The two most important things to someone with Migraine Disease are:

  • a good health care team,
  • Migraine education, and
  • a good support system.
                 

Unfortunately, both can be difficult to find and/or develop for many reasons:

  • For too long, not much was know about Migraine Disease. As with most anything about which little is known, myths and stereotypes developed. It's difficult to dispel them. That has to be done through education. The general public has limited exposure to such education, and busy doctors don't always stay as up-to-date as we would like.
  • Migraine is an invisible disease. Migraineurs don't have the outward symptoms of disease or treatment as do those who have cancer, heart disease, diabetes or epilepsy. We don't have casts on broken bones or bandages on outer wounds from Migraine.
  • For someone who has never experienced a Migraine attack, it's extraordinarily difficult to comprehend the level of pain and disability that it causes.
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