As I was reading posts in a Facebook Migraine group yesterday, I came across a post from a woman who was talking about feeling guilty when she's too sick with a Migraine to get out of bed and do things with her son. Her post certainly resonated with me because I too have felt that guilt about being unable to get out of bed and do things with my family. There have been times when we visited our children and grandchildren, who no longer live in our area, and I've laid in my hotel room bed crying - not from physical pain, but from the guilt and emotional pain.
There's a related issue here too. Our kids can be frightened by our Migraines, and they can feel a form of guilt themselves because they want to help us, but don't know how to help.
After thinking about these issues for a while, I thought I'd offer some suggestions that come from years of living with Migraine and times when I looked for solutions:
Find ways for children to help. Finding little ways for our kids to help us during a Migraine attack can help ease their feelings of being powerless. Depending on their ages, there are a variety of ways kids can help us:
- Older kids can help with younger ones.
- Older children can also help if errands need to be run or prescriptions need to be picked up.
- Children can help by bringing us things such as a fresh cold pack, tissues, something to drink, etc.
- Children who are old enough to read can help us take our minds off our Migraines by softly reading to us.
- We can turn the tables a bit, and ask kids to help by softly telling us a story.
Find quiet activities that kids can do while staying close. Our Migraines are less frightening and disquieting to our kids when they can see and be near us. For younger kids, it can be helpful to keep a box or bag of things handy. Here are some suggestions:
- Jigsaw puzzles. Get two pieces of sturdy plastic, cardboard, or wood for kids to use as a platform for jigsaw puzzles that are large enough to need more than one session to complete. Between sessions, the platform piece can be covered with the second piece and stored for the next session.
- Puzzle books. Books of crossword and other types of puzzles can keep some kids occupied for significant periods of time.
- Coloring books. With the current trend for adult coloring books, this can be an activity for kids in a wide range of ages. Keeping a "special" box of crayons, colored pencils, or markers to use during these sessions can make it more fun.
- Writing stories or poems. Once children are old enough to read and write, writing can keep them occupied and encourage creativity. There's a huge variety of blank journals available that can give them a special place for their writings.
Teach kids about Migraine disease. Things that are mysterious and things we don't understand are far more frightening than things we know about. For help talking with children about Migraine, see How to Explain Migraine to Children, an article written at a level that children who are grade-school-age and above can understand. Another reason to teach kids about Migraine is the fact that they may inherit the disease. If Migraine is present in one side of the family, children have a 50% chance of inheriting it. That increases to 75% if Migraine is present in both sides of the family.
The guilt we feel about not being able to do the things we want to do with and for our families is entirely natural, but it's a negative expenditure of emotional energy - energy that's best spent in positive ways.
Instead of letting Migraine win and beating ourselves up with the guilt, let's find ways that work to help our children work their way through their own guilt and fears, help us through our Migraines, have activities that can keep them engaged and close to us when we have a Migraine, and help them learn about Migraine. These things can be good for both our children and for us. Migraine truly is a family affair. It impacts the entire family. By dumping the guilt and employing creative planning, we can ensure that the impact isn't always totally negative.
because a migraine is NOT "just a headache"