“I saw this great migraine cure on TV!” – Patients Speak out about “Helpful Tips”

Our most recent poll focused around how we as migrainuers or those with cluster or chronic headache feel when friends and family come to us with the latest news story about our illness.

The question was:  How do you feel when a friend tells you about a treatment for your headache/migraine?

In this case, visitors were allowed to choose as many answers as they wanted.  Let’s face it – some of us have mixed feelings about the whole thing.

The interesting thing was that there were actually a lot of positive responses.  So, if you have a friend with headache/migraine, they may not want to actually bite your head off when you send them that Reader’s Digest article or the link to the news story. 😉

Still – let’s be open about it – sometimes we get a little frustrated.

57% had at least some positive reaction to their friend’s “helpful tip”.

All right, so that means that 43% had no positive reaction at all!  Still, I think it’s healthy to be at least a little positive – if only to be thankful that someone knows you exist and they care enough to mention something to you.

41% said they were appreciative – there’s always something new to learn.  17% said they were excited – this could be the answer!

19% were somewhat neutral – or bored.

This group said they felt like they had heard it all before – the same treatments again and again, even though they already know they wouldn’t be helpful for them.

The rest had more strongly negative responses (again, remember that people could say they had both a negative and positive response).

37% were frustrated – the top response on the negative side.

Why frustrated?  Because frankly they’re just tired of hearing the same things over and over – things that aren’t really helpful.

23% were sad.

Sad because, unfortunately, this often showed that people really didn’t understand.  Do they really think that I’m just sitting around, not willing to try a treatment that will probably cure me?  Do they think I haven’t really done my homework?  Do they think that a simple procedure or treatment is likely going to completely change my life and make everything all right?

16% actually felt angry.

Not necessarily angry at the person sharing the information, but angry in general.  They’ve had enough of these ridiculous so-called cures.  Half the time they’re scams, someone trying to sell something, or someone who is just ignorant of the complexity of the problem.

Take aways?

If you’re on the receiving end, this can be frustrating.  But try to cut your friend a bit of slack, if you can.  On the other hand, don’t just put up with it – tell them how you’re feeling, and why.  Do you not want them to mention these things?  Or is there a more tactful, understanding way they could tell you about it?

If you’re out to give advice to a migrainuer, or someone with headaches, first realize that this is a complex disease that is different in everyone.  It impacts every area of life.  Your friend/family member has likely been dealing with, thinking about, talking about, investigating these things for a long time.

Information is useful – personally, I hate to turn anyone away who has information, even if I’ve likely heard it before..  However, in most cases the tip you heard will not be the miracle cure.  There may be valid reasons why your friend may not even want to try it.  Don’t judge quickly – and why not ask if there’s some way you can help?

It might help, by the way, if you got a quick primer on migraine, if that’s the issue.  Start here, and take a few minutes out of your day to better understand your friend/family member.

And be sure to take our new poll, already in the sidebar!

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2 comments… add one
  • tomas Feb 28, 2011

    Discovering two things and responding to them to ascertain its relevance to me significantly improved my quality of life .

    1/ Bruxism – teeth grinding and clenching during sleep and awake can cause migraine


    2/ Excess copper in the body can trigger migraine


    I sincerely hope that helps anyone who is not aware of this.

  • anna Dec 13, 2014

    If I was a mechanic and there was something wrong with the engine, and I had done all the appropriate triage but was investigating further, and a stranger walked up and said “Hey, you should try changing the oil!” Arg.

    Great advice. I think it’s good to be aware that people sometimes do genuinely want to help, but it can be insulting when they simplify the problem. “Have you tried _______?” can feel patronizing when we are working so hard.

    “How can I help”, “Do you want to talk about it”, and “what sort of strategies have helped?” are much more welcome questions in my books 🙂

    Thank you for this post.

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