Headaches are (almost) invisible


Headaches and migraines are a pain in the arse. Well, pain in the head to be more specific. It’s as if they’re called that for a reason. There’s a joke about Boris Johnson in there somewhere.

This is true for a host of obvious reasons. They hurt! But just as bad, they rob us of the ability to think. A broken ankle is horrifying, but at least we can prop them up while we distract ourselves. Headaches reduce sufferers to irritable mush.

I don’t care about garnering sympathy during a headache, and especially during a migraine. The universe could collapse for all I care. I need to be left alone in a dark, quiet place where I can sit upright and meditate; my forehead smothered with Tiger Balm while I try and keep a couple of strong pills down long enough to dissolve. People could think I’m “putting it on”; it couldn’t matter less to me.

But it does suck a little after the fact, I’ll admit! My ankle had a CAM boot on it, and I needed crutches to walk around. There are no outwardly visible signs of a headache or migraine to others. Worse are the people who say you can “deal with it”, because it’s all in one’s head, right?

I’m lucky that I don’t have anyone like that in my life. My work hears I have a migraine, and they take the load while I disappear for a day. Clara gives me a hug and leaves me to recover.

All that said though, I have a working theory that bad headache and migraine sufferers can see it in other people. I could tell when my mum had one; ditto when my brother-in-law has one of his regular episodes. It was all in their eyes.

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Ruben Schade is a technical writer and infrastructure architect in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person. Hi!

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