Sunday, 1 September 2013

Migraine Awareness Week 2013 - Phantom of the Opera: “Masquerade” - Behind the Mask

So Migraine Awareness Week has now begun!  As previously mentioned, Victoria from Migraine Monologues has put together some blog prompts for us bloggers for this week.
She has based all of the prompts on musicals which is a theme I particularly love.

Today's Prompt is Phantom of the Opera: “Masquerade” - Behind the Mask

For this post, Victoria has actually asked for fellow sufferers to send her photos of themselves during a migraine and on a non-migraine day for comparison.  If you really want to see a highly embarassing photo of me in massive amounts of pain then go and take a look at the post on her blog.  I took the photo as a selfie and stopped clutching my eye to show my whole face.  There really is very little to see there to represent the level of agony, the explosion of pain happening inside my head, how much it feels like gouging out my own eye would manage to relief the pain, how it can sometimes feel that I'm dying.
So although Migraine is an invisible illness, I put on a mask to hide the pain I'm in for a large amount of my time.  A lot of the time between migraines I'm still experiencing what most people would class as a bad headache and I'm not allowed to take anything for them else I'll fall into Medication Overuse Headache.  The mask (or as I've talked about before, The Brave Face) has become something I put on in the morning in the same way as I put my clothes on.

Even though I'm quite adept at hiding how much daily pain I'm in, the signs that something beyond a daily headache is growing slip through which is evidenced by my husband often being able to tell before I can that a migraine in on its way.  This isn't just how I look (like when he notices I'm holding one side of my head or one eye) which gives me away but how I'm acting and how I'm talking.

What is impossible to gauge from photos is how speech seems to elude me when I'm suffering from a migraine.  It's a struggle to get any of the words I want to say out, and my speech becomes slow, broken and slurred.  That's impossible to hide from people and I reached that point at work once - I had to hide in an office which wasn't being used at the time, with the lights off and I sat on the floor in a corner.  One of my colleagues stayed with me whilst I waited for a friend to come and pick me up and she saw and heard me in migraine for the first time.  I was incredibly embarrassed and when I had to walk past my office to leave when my friend arrived, I was just desperate for none of them to see me in the state I was in.  Embarrassment for something completely outside of my control might seem like an odd emotion but it was the inability to keep the mask on which was so horrible.

It wasn't until during this last month that I realised how normal it is for me to put on my mask, when I had people comment at how I had coped so well to be completely fine during an extremely busy and stressful week at work, when in fact I was dealing with a massive amount of pain at the time and felt anything but fine.

Migraine Awareness Week is 1-7 September and is dedicated to trying to educate people that Migraine is more than just a headache and to try and raise money for Migraine research.
The Migraine Trust are funding a dedicated migraine research programme - the only programme of its kind in the UK.  They need £130,000 to fully fund their new line of research and one hour of research can be funded by a donation of £35.63.  Please donate to The Migraine Trust if you are able to and hopefully this research could bring us all closer to a cure.


  1. It's truly unfortunate that you have to suffer from something that, as you said, you have no control over. When migraine strikes, you don't have anything that you can use against it, but medication and talks with your doctor. And please, do not belittle yourself just because you are going through a great pain. Your migraine doesn't define who you are as a person, Daisy. Keep strong!
    Michael @ Palm Beach Neurological Center

  2. I agree. It can be hard to tell when migraine will attack and what really triggers it, especially when it hits you for the first time. But I don’t think it’s something to be embarrassed about. The excruciating pain you were feeling is absolutely indescribable, and I believe it doesn't make sense to define a person just because of the kind of condition they have.

    Agnes Lawson @ Pain Relief Experts