Asking others to accommodate your need to avoid Migraine triggers can feel intimidating. Even when we know our triggers, the social pressure to conform can derail our best intentions. It takes practice to speak up. It’s often hardest with those we love. Check out these tips for getting your Migraine needs met from loved ones.
1. No one can read your mind
Your loved ones don’t know what they don’t know. Sure, they may know you have Migraine, but they won’t recognize the signs of Migraine unless you teach them what to look for. Let them know when you are experiencing an attack and explain how those symptoms affect you.
2. You can’t control others
Even people who love you dearly may not understand Migraine or be willing to help. As frustrating as this is, it’s not possible to make someone change. You may have to walk away from some people.
3. Limits are healthy
Setting limits is healthy, especially when those limits protect you from Migraine triggers. Asking loved ones to avoid wearing perfume or smoking around you isn’t selfish. It’s reasonable.
4. Asking isn’t selfish
The needs of people with Migraine are not obvious to others. There is a culture gap between our legitimate needs and society’s expectations. You must initiate that conversation. While it may be uncomfortable at first, you will get better with practice. You may question whether it’s worth the trouble because you don’t want to draw attention to yourself. Suffering in silence is not healthy for you or your loved ones. Asking for what you need builds self-respect and earns you the respect of others.
5. Put yourself first
Learn to recognize your Migraine needs and then take the necessary steps to ensure these needs are met. Take care of yourself before using your resources to help others. This isn’t selfishness. It’s good self-care. When we take the time to think about potential triggers and ask for accommodations in advance, we are taking responsibility for our own health.
6. Plan ahead
Just because you are invited doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your Migraine needs. Before you accept that invitation, ask the host or hostess some questions about potential triggers. Imagine yourself participating in the activity. What do you need in order to participate? It is your responsibility to prepare in advance. Sometimes a simple accommodation is all you need.
7. Don’t be a martyr
There are polite ways to protect yourself from triggers. It’s not necessary to endure perfume-soaked air or eat that nitrate-filled dish if doing so threatens your health. Not everyone is going to understand or accept your need to avoid triggers. Some people will be offended if you decline an invitation, leave early, or refuse a bite of this or sip of that. Their hurt feelings are not your problem. Taking care of your health is the priority. People who can’t understand that don’t deserve your time or attention
8. Resist the guilt trip
It is understandable to be concerned about another’s reaction. However, don’t let your fears prevent you from protecting yourself from triggers. Resist the attempts of loved ones to pressure you into doing something you know will bring on a migraine.
9. Change is hard
You are asking others to change their behavior for your benefit. People are creatures of habit. Change won’t happen quickly. Hopefully your loved ones will value your presence more than their air fresheners, loud music, or cigarette smoke.
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Reviewed by David Watson, M.D. © Tammy Rome, 2017.
Headache disorders advocate, blogger, and mental health therapist, Tammy Rome maintains a private practice specializing in behavioral pain management, as well as writing for her own blog, Brain Storm. She also volunteers as vice chair of the American Headache and Migraine Association and as president of The Cluster Headache Support Group. You can read more of Tammy’s work on her blog and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+.