On this Monday morning, as I start the new week thinking about all the people I know who are starting the week with a Migraine, I'm also starting it with today's - to write an ekphrasis post. Ekphrasis is writing about an other art form, and this challenge is to choose an image that inspires us positively or negatively and free write about it. The challenge is also to give ourselves exactly 15 minutes to write without stopping or editing.
So, be warned. I'm going to insert the image, then write and post, without editing...
Migraine is a vicious, insidious, pernicious, hateful, insidious, malevolent disease. About the only good thing that can be said about it is that it isn't sexist or racist... it doesn't discriminate against the young or the old. It will brutalize anyone.
Migraine first struck our granddaughter Alex when she was just 2-1/2, still a baby... too young to tell us what was wrong, but not too young to suffer. She hid her face against Becky (her mother) to avoid light. She cringed at every sound. And she held her tiny head and cried in pain.
When it comes to not caring about the burden of a disease when allocating research funding, the NIH doesn't discriminate either. There's no correlation between disease burden and research funding, and FDA officials I've had contact with don't discriminate based on age, gender, or race any more than Migraine does. The funding seems to go to the squeakiest wheel, regardless of whose needs get ignored.
The stigma associated with Migraine acts the same way. Stigma doesn't give a damn about age, gender, or race. It smacks everyone and anyone down. What's truly upsetting about stigma is that it's PEOPLE who create and perpetuate stigma. It's PEOPLE who make other people feel like crap about themselves just because they have Migraine, a genetic neurological disease. PEOPLE who do this to strangers, family, friends, life partners, children, anyone - without discrimination. PEOPLE acting out of ignorance, being judgemental, being "doody-heads," as our grandson Johnny would say.
You! Yes, you! Do you, even without realizing it, add to the stigma and misery associated with Migraine in how you react to people with Migraines? Do you tell them, "It's just a headache. Take some Tylenol?" Do you criticize your coworker who missed work because of Migraine? Do you continue to wear perfume or fragranced lotions to work even though a coworker has Migraines that are triggered by fragrance? Do you get angry if your friend has to cancel out on going somewhere with you because he or she has a Migraine? Have you quit calling a friend because they're so often unable to do things with you because of their Migraines?
Oh, yeah. Migraine will strike anyone. It doesn't discriminate. What's even more disturbing is that many people are the same way in the way they treat people with Migraine, and that perpetuates the myths and misconceptions AND the stigma associated with Migraine.
Stop and think about it. Do YOU feed into the myths, misconceptions, and stigma? If you have Migraines, you may be unwittingly feeding into it. When someone makes a comment or otherwise demonstrates that they haven't a clue when it comes to Migraine, how do you react? Those of us living with Migraine owe it to ourselves and other Migraineurs not to just "let it go." We need to be educating other people when we encounter these problems. It's old and cliché, but it's true. If we're not part of the solution, we're part of the problem. If you don't have Migraines, you're bound to know someone who does. There are more than 37 million of us in the US. How do you respond to the people you know who have Migraines? Do you respond with understanding, riducule, or indifference?
WAKE UP, PEOPLE! This disease is difficult enough to live with without us making it worse for people. Learn, share, educate, help dispel the myths and bust the stigma. Look at the photo above that I've been sitting here looking at. What if she were YOUR child?
Whew! I didn't really mean to go off on a rant or step up on my soap box, but it happened. I hope you'll think about what's I've said.
This post was written as part of NHBPM – 30 health posts in 30 days: http://bit.ly/vU0g9J
Get the latest Migraine and headache news, informational articles, tips for living well, and more in my free weekly newsletter. To subscribe, CLICK HERE.
© Teri Robert, 2011
Last updated November 21, 2011