I started getting migraines in 2010, following a car accident. I’ve always believed that the migraines were somehow related to an injury but almost every doctor I saw brushed it off as a mere coincidence.
It has now been almost 10 years now, and I’ve been to more doctor’s offices than I could possibly count. Some doctors have dismissed my claims of being in chronic pain every day of my life. One doctor told me, “you’re just a young girl, young girls get migraines and we really don’t know why, and there’s not much we can do about it.” Another specialist refused to order MRI imaging because it “wouldn’t do any good or show anything new.” It has been an uphill battle getting anyone to believe in the possibility that my migraines were post-traumatic. Imagine how frustrating it is. They didn’t believe that I knew my body better than they did.
My own family and friends have labeled me as “dramatic,” a “hypochondriac,” “looking for attention,” “too young to have so many problems.” The amount of stigma I’ve faced with this terrible, invisible illness is unbelievable. All because, I don’t “look” sick.
When most people think of chronic illness, they think of someone appearing physically ill and migraines are just a bad headache, right? What’s the big deal? “Just take some Advil and you’ll be alright.” False. Migraines are a physical assault on your whole entire body. Often accompanied by blurred vision, confusion, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, extreme light sensitivity.. and extreme pain.
Migraines typically last anywhere from 24 to 72 hours and when you have one, you really can’t do much of anything. I feel like I’ve wasted countless hours of my life sleeping in a dark room. I’ve had to cancel plans last-minute, call out of work, and go home early.
Friends of mine have become frustrated with my condition. They question, “Really?? Another migraine? I’m sick of you and your headaches.” You and me both, kid. I’m so sorry my chronic illness inconveniences you, try living with it. I’ve sometimes considered lying and giving another reason for not being able to keep plans just so I don’t have to face the stigma that surrounds me and my migraines.
To anyone suffering with a chronic, invisible illness, I feel for you.
To anyone who doesn’t understand, I hope this will shed some light into what people like me go through on a daily basis and the stigma we face.