Patient Perspectives: How migraines affect family life
In this video, Dr. Mitzi Williams leads a roundtable discussion with migraine patients as they discuss how the condition impacts their lives and families.
[MUSIC PLAYING] One day I woke up, and it just kind of felt like someone took me out of my body and put me in one that worked at 50%.
Hi, everyone. My name is Dr. Mitzi Joi Williams. I'm a board-certified neurologist, and I'm here with Shauna, Kerrie, and Adam
to talk a little bit about living with migraines and how migraines affect their everyday lives and their family lives.
Migraine can affect your family life, affect the activities that you want to do. If someone wants to go to a movie
and you pop up and have a headache, you may have to cancel those plans. So how did you guys cope with that, and what advice would you give for people with migraine
to be OK with maybe missing some of those things or be OK with those feelings associated with it? I had to learn how to stop and rest and take care of myself.
I'm always-- I've been an overachieving person, busy, always busy, always doing something for other people,
and I just didn't know how to rest. After my third concussion, that was just, like, the wake-up call for me.
So when I do have these migraines, nothing else matters. I need to take care of myself. So I have found that the most important thing
I can do for my relationships and for managing that stress of missing out is to be honest.
I lost a lot of friendships in college because I was trying to dance around. I didn't want people to know I was sick.
I didn't want people to think that I was weak. And so it damaged a lot of my relationships.
And I learned over time just to be honest, that migraine is not a weakness. It is an illness.
It is a physical, a neurological condition. There is nothing that I had done to bring this on. It's not my fault. And so I am honest with my friends
and my family when I need to cancel. And I'm su-- and I make sure to tell them, I really do want to spend time with you, and I'll be in touch with you when I'm feeling better.
Ultimately, what happens in life is out of my control, but I can control the way that I respond
to what happens in my life. And so for me, going to see a therapist and starting to work through those things,
and when I feel out of control and when I-- when I feel sad because again, I'm not able to participate in life the way that I used to,
how can I reframe that? How can I-- how can I, you know, stop in that moment
and shift so that I can remember the things that I am grateful for?
And when I have to cancel plans, communicating to the people I have to cancel with that I'm so sorry I have to do this,
but I have to listen to my body. When I'm feeling better, though, I can't wait to spend time with you. So what type of advice would you give for people's families
out there who don't know what it feels like to have a migraine to help their loved ones when they're suffering from a migraine attack?
You know, the important thing is even if you don't understand, you know, what's happening,
just listen when somebody's experiencing a migraine. Just asking, you know, what can I do to support you in this moment?
How can I most help you? Believe them. Even if you can't see an illness,
or even if there is no blood test to prove that it is a disease, migraine is debilitating
and it's stressful, and it feels horrible. It physically feels horrible to have a migraine attack.
But it also feels horrible if the people around you don't believe what you're going through. And many people with migraine have internalized stigma.
They start to question, am I making this up? Because if other people don't believe them, then they start to think, maybe I'm exaggerating.
Maybe I do-- you know, maybe this is anxiety, or maybe I'm making things up or making
a big deal out of nothing. Really listen to what they need. Believe what they're going through and ask--
if you can, ask, what do you need now? And respect what they need. If you don't have migraines, you
can educate yourself on it if you have a family or friend who's suffering from it. Read a book about it.
Talk to your doctors about it. And, like, talking to people with the same issues that I have really helps and in educating
people who don't have it, describing the pain and symptoms. But just listen, and be kind.
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