Today is Chronic Migraine Awareness Day. Apparently, I'm recognizing today with a low-grade Migraine (at least it's not full-blown, though).
According to the International Headache Society, Chronic Migraine is "Migraine headache occurring on 15 or more days per month for more than 3 months in the absence of medication overuse" (ICHD-II).
There are many different acts of kindness that can be done for those living with Chronic Migraine, including:
- Offer to go to the doctor with a Migraineur and offer to take notes for them.
- Offer to help with food - prepare and deliver a meal for their family; fix a few frozen meals that can be easily reheated; help with grocery shopping (either go with or offer to pick up a some items for them).
- Offer to help around the house (laundry, cleaning, help finishing an unfinished project).
- Offer to watch a Migraineur's child(ren) for a few hours.
- Offer to have a spontaneous outing on their next good day... whenever that might be (even if it's just a quick outing for sno-cones - mmm, sno-cones).
Many Migraineurs are dealing with feelings of helplessness, and it can be extremely difficult to ask for help. So, it helps to keep offers specific - "Let me know if you need anything" or "Can I do anything to help?" will rarely result in someone reaching out and asking for that help because they're simply overwhelming. Also, please be sincere. If you're not willing to prepare a meal, don't offer to do it - if you offer and don't follow through, think of how the Migraineur feels after allowing him/herself to be vulnerable and accept your offer of help.
Remember, even small gestures of kindness can mean so very much.
Really, I think the things Migraineurs would truly cherish most are things that we ALL need (healthy or disabled, young or old) - companionship / love, comfort, understanding, and support. Here are some ways to show the Migraineur in your life that you care:
- Be forgiving and understanding when we have to cancel (even last minute) plans - Believe me, we hate to cancel plans more than you hate that we had to cancel - many of us have quite a lot of guilt built up around letting others down.
- Have at least a basic understanding of what Migraine disease really is - it's NOT "just a headache," it's a neurological disorder that affects every system of the body - and please help us dispel the misunderstandings and stigmatization surrounding Migraine disease.
- Be mindful of our needs - to avoid bright lighting (for example, when sitting down at a restaurant), scents/smells (including perfume, lotions, candles, air fresheners, etc), noise/crowds (for example, I can't deal with going to a club or concert), food sensitivities (migraine-friendly food / drinks) - I know this is a lot to try to remember, but simply asking if there's anything you can do to help reduce some of our triggers can mean so much (and help us to enjoy themselves more).
- Keep in touch - a quick email, text message, letter, etc can brighten our day (even if it's just to let us know that you're thinking of us) - we care about what's going on in your life, too.
- Help us remember that there's always hope and we are loved, despite our disability.
A fellow chronic Migraineur wrote a letter to people without Migraine that I think is very well-written. Please take a few minutes to read it, here. I share her sentiment: "I do not want your pity or even your sympathy. I want you to have even the tiniest grasp that migraine is not a headache... [I] beg for a smidgen of your comprehension" (Kerrie Smyres).
This post was written as part of the Migraine Awareness Month Blogging Challenge (MAMBC), which is initiated by www.FightingHeadacheDisorders.com and the National Migraine Awareness Month is initiated by the National Headache Foundation (NHF).