If you are a chronic migraine sufferer, then you’ve probably had to cancel or change your plans a time or two.
“Folks with migraine [often] feel guilt, shame, and loneliness,” says Steven Baskin, PhD, the co-director of behavioral medicine services at the New England Institute for Neurology and Headache and an attending psychologist at Greenwich Hospital of Yale–New Haven Health.
Studies show that isolation can also be harmful and cause those living with migraine to grapple with extra stress and skip out on treatment, which can cause their symptoms to worsen.
If you feel lonely, you aren’t alone, SELF notes. Around 39 million people in the US live with migraine.
“There’s nothing wrong with you for experiencing this,” Anna Holtzman, LMHC, a New York City–based licensed mental health counselor who treats people with chronic pain, tells SELF.
Fortunately, as summer approaches and your friends and family begin planning more social gatherings and activities, there are ways you can have a thriving social life without causing yourself pain and discomfort.
1. Surround yourself with people you can trust.
If your friends get frustrated that you are ditching your plans and don’t understand what you are going through, it’s time to surround yourself with people who understand what you are going through and the importance of prioritizing your health.
This is crucial because judgment and feelings of guilt from others could convince you to avoid future social events entirely, according to Holtzman.
When sharing your experiences with migraine, consider who you decide to open up to.
“You don’t need to share it with everyone in your life, but you do need to find the people you feel safe with,” Holtzman says. Who are the most nonjudgmental and caring people—or maybe just the best listeners—in your life? Chances are, those people will respond empathetically to your experience with migraine, Holtzman says.
Your loved one may not fully understand what it feels like to suffer from a migraine, however, it doesn’t mean that they don’t