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Show You Care: What to Say to Someone Suffering from a Migraine

Anyone who is frequently around friends or loved ones who frequently suffer from headaches or migraines knows that the condition can be a touchy subject. It’s common to feel like you’re “walking on eggshells” or delicately watching what you say so that painful situation doesn’t become strained or aggravated.

So, instead of addressing what not to say to someone with migraines, I thought I’d focus on some words or phrases that you SHOULD say. There are plenty of ways to show you care. Here are 10 suggestions to get you started.

“I believe you.” Thanks to the common perception that it’s “just a headache,” people are even more dubious about the severity of a migraine. Because of this, many people with migraines feel like few believe how horrendous and disabling a migraine attack can be. Telling a migraineur that you believe what they’re going through validates their painful situation.

“It’s not your fault.” There’s a tendency to blame a person for illness — smoking = lung cancer, unhealthful diet = heart attacks, stress = migraine. When the illness is both invisible and regarded as insignificant, the sick person is heaped with additional blame. Having others recognize that we’re not to blame is a tremendous salve – and can remind us to be easier on ourselves, as well.

“You are brave and strong.” When a person is in the thick of a migraine, life becomes about getting through the day, sometimes even just the moment. Having someone tell us honestly that they see that struggle as brave is wonderful encouragement.

“I miss you, but I understand why you’re not around.” Unfortunately, hearing “I miss you” can send a migraineur into a spiral of guilt about letting you down and fear about the future of your relationship. Adding “I understand why you’re not around” is a gentle reminder that you don’t blame them for not being as present.

“I don’t know what to say, but I’m here for you.”  Often it’s far more soothing to hear that someone wants to support you and is at a loss for words. Attempts at comfort that miss the mark can sometimes be more hurtful than they are helpful.

“It’s OK if you have to cancel plans.” Canceling plans due to a migraine is tremendously difficult. But, it’s always a relief to make plans with someone who will understand if we have to cancel.

“No need to call/text/email me back.” Migraine can be isolating. We have to cancel plans and don’t always have the mental bandwidth to return phone calls. Send a quick message to let them know you’re thinking about them and specify that they need not respond.

“I read that article you sent me about migraine.” If someone sends you an article or post about migraine, it’s because they want you to understand something about what their life is like.

“What can I do to help?” Even if a person is able to function early in a migraine attack, they’re probably stressed and trying to tie up loose ends before being laid up for hours or days. Dropping off a report to a coworker or taking out the trash will take you only a few minutes, but will be a tremendous relief to the migraineur.

“What is a migraine attack like for you?” Most people think they know what migraine is like, but few without migraine truly understand the severity of its symptoms. Set any assumptions you might have aside and listen to the answer. You may be surprised by how much you learn.

What matters is that you find a way to truly connect with your family member, friend, or loved one who has migraine.

Pasadena Pain Management offers pain management treatment for TMJ/TMD, migraine, headaches and neck pain in Pasadena, CA. Our office is conveniently located with extended hours to meet your needs. At Pasadena Pain Management, we offer the exclusive TruDenta treatment therapy — a highly specialized form of care that involves cutting-edge dental technology, without needles or injections. Patient satisfaction is our top priority and we strive to provide the exceptional, affordable pain management care and personal touch that lead to lasting relationships. A smiling patient is our greatest reward and we look forward to keeping our patients happy and pain free.