9 Ways to Advocate for Yourself With Migraine

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Coping with and managing migraine and the associated symptoms can be challenging. Asking for what you need during a migraine attack isn’t easy. Finding your voice and using it to advocate for your needs is the first step toward taking care of yourself. You can learn to create environments, protocols and accommodations that make managing migraine easier. Here are nine ways to begin advocating for yourself.

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Set boundaries

Creating boundaries is an important skill that translates into every aspect of life. When living with migraine, it is especially necessary to set limits. Whether it is taking on another project, RSVP’ing to a party, or making plans with a friend, you should listen to what you body is saying. Overextending yourself can bring on stress or anxiety, which will increase the risk of an attack. Do not let guilt or the fear of missing out (FOMO) cause you any pain or grief. Boundaries and limits are healthy and you deserve to be as healthy as you can be.

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Be prepared

You are in charge of your healthcare! You have every right to be a part of every decision that is made about your health. Write down any question you have about your treatments, symptoms, and medications to bring to your next appointment. If your doctor has email, send them prior to your visit. Make the most out of the 15 or 20 minutes you have with your doctor. Drive the conversation, work with your healthcare team, and create a viable partnership.

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Ask for what you need

Asking for accommodations at work is an important way to advocate for yourself. If you work with computers or in an office with harsh lighting, request to have the bulbs changed or a filter for your computer screen. Staying hydrated is super important. Consider moving closer to the water cooler. If you don’t have a private office, request a quiet room where you can retreat to for a few minutes. Where available, telework! There are many ways that you can stay productive that will keep both you and your employer happy.

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Advocate for your child

Become an advocate for your child if he or she lives with migraine! Consider creating a 504 Plan, which ensures that a child in an elementary or secondary educational institution with a disability will receive accommodations that will help them achieve academic success. Examples include having worksheets printed on colored paper, a reduced class load or modified schedule, and multiple breaks in between classes. Get your child’s teachers and the school administration on board to help make the school year easier for everyone.

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Create a protocol

Be prepared for a trip to the emergency room in the event of an acute migraine attack. Create a protocol in advance with your physician to make sure you receive the treatment you need. Have him or her type up a brief synopsis of your history with migraine, a specific treatment that you need in order to break a severe migraine, and then sign it. Hospital staff will be less likely to question your pain when you come armed with that piece of paper.

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Put yourself first

Self-care is essential to your well-being, especially when living with migraine. If you aren’t taking care of yourself then you are unable to care for the ones you love. Restorative yoga, meditation, or daily walks are all ways you can be there for yourself. Invest in you and what makes you happy. Make time for your favorite hobbies. Putting yourself first is one of the best ways to advocate.

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Let go of guilt

When you are feeling your worst, it’s okay! You are not to blame for having migraine, and you certainly are not to blame for having an attack. Migraine is a genetic neurological disease. Not something you willed upon yourself. If you are in the midst of an attack, try to let go of the guilt of not being able to do everything. Those who understand will not think any less of you. And for the ones who don’t, try to let that go too. You are perfectly okay even when you aren’t feeling it.

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Delegate

There’s no need to overwhelm yourself with trying to do it all. Everyone at home can pitch in. Enlist the kids to help with cleaning, meal preparation, and laundry. If your children are in sports, gymnastics, or ballet, organize a carpool with the other parents. Have your teens make easy and inexpensive meals, such as spaghetti, pizza, or tacos. Keep the fridge stocked with ingredients for these go-to meals.

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Join a cause

Many organizations have great advocacy opportunities. Becoming a part of one is another way to not only advocate for yourself but for others with headache and migraine. You can participate in a walk, lobby on Capitol Hill, or help affect change in insurance policies that hurt patients. Advocating can even be done from the comfort of your home! Every year during Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, people can participate in daily challenges all month long or simply share important information.