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Living with Chronic Migraine: 7 Phrases to Remove from Your Inner Dialogue

Woman meditating on beach to reframe her inner dialogue about migraine
Getty Images/ Avesun

Words matter

I kept my migraine pain hidden for many years. Eventually, however, I reached a point where I felt the need to open up about my condition to the people in my life. I thought a lot about the words and phrases I would use in these “unveiling” conversations before having them. It takes a lot of practice to find the right way to talk about my illness without coming across as though I’m complaining.

Effectively discussing my chronic migraine with others starts with perfecting my internal dialogue. The words I choose are vital in guiding the conversations I have. By removing some unfavorable words and phrases from my vocabulary, I’ve been able to shift my way of thinking and talk about my condition with greater clarity.

Here are seven phrases I have omitted from my inner dialogue:

1. It’s ‘just’ a migraine

It’s a migraine. It’s not “just” a migraine. Adding the word “just” diminishes the illness and the pain you’re in.

I have used this phrase before, and I am not proud of it. I will throw the word “just” in to hide that I am sick. But I am battling chronic migraine every second of every day. And nobody — especially me — should ever trivialize migraine pain.

Fortunately, today I’m able to confidently say “I have a migraine.” Living with chronic migraine is my truth, and there’s no reason to feel guilty. If I diminish my pain, it’s like I’m allowing others to do the same, and that is not OK.

2. I’ll never get better

This phrase has been the most challenging to omit from my vocabulary. Although I’m hopeful, sometimes it feels like I’ll never be well. I’ve been living with chronic migraine for over a decade, which makes it hard to picture life without it.

However, thinking that way won’t help me get any better and will only allow me to fall deeper into a hole of sadness. Thinking positively gives me something to work toward and keeps me hopeful for a better future.

3. I am my migraine

I’m not my migraine, and you aren’t either. Migraine pain affects my day-to-day life, but it is not who I am.

To manage your migraine symptoms, you need to realize that you are not your condition. In fact, you’re stronger than it. Refusing to believe that is saying you can’t rise above it because it’s part of who you are.

4. I give up

Living with chronic migraine can sometimes feel incredibly defeating, but giving up is not an option.

There were times I gave up hope of ever getting better. I thought it wasn’t worth trying since nothing ever works.

But giving up on finding relief felt like giving up on a happy future. The two go hand in hand, so I had to remove the words “I give up” from my internal dialogue.

5. My migraine has stolen my life

Full disclosure: My migraine has forced me to miss out on many things. I’ve had to skip out on countless opportunities that I’ll never get back. However, I have things to look forward to in my future, and I will live a fulfilling life despite my migraine pain.

6. It’s my fault

Chronic migraine is an illness. People who are unfamiliar with the condition may think I am making it all up or not treating it properly, but I cannot let them get to me. I am doing everything I can to maintain some semblance of a life while in pain. None of this is my fault.

7. It’s been XX days

I don’t know why, but every so often, I find myself counting the days since my pain began. When I do this, I get sad. I’ve been living with chronic migraine for a long time. Dwelling on the past doesn’t help.

The real focus is on the present. I can’t change the past or predict the future, but I can try to manage the pain I’m feeling right now. And, if I’m successful today, I may be able to have an easier tomorrow.

The takeaway

My ability to effectively explain my chronic migraine to others hinges upon my inner dialogue and frame of mind. By making a conscious effort to shift my perspective and remove negative words from my vocabulary, I am doing what I can to end the stigma surrounding migraine and open the door to educating others on the condition.

The information presented is solely for educational purposes, not as specific advice for the evaluation, management, or treatment of any condition.

The individual(s) who have written and created the content in and whose images appear in this article have been paid by Teva Pharmaceuticals for their contributions. This content represents the opinions of the contributor and does not necessarily reflect those of Teva Pharmaceuticals. Similarly, Teva Pharmaceuticals does not review, control, influence or endorse any content related to the contributor's websites or social media networks. This content is intended for informational and educational purposes and should not be considered medical advice or recommendations. Consult a qualified medical professional for diagnosis and before beginning or changing any treatment regimen. 

MIG-US-NP-00086 JULY 2018

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