Your #migraine Tells

"Have you ever had a migraine symptom other people notice before you do?
My partner can tell when I have a migraine just by looking into my eyes—apparently I often get a glassy look and appear to be unfocused.
Others who are close to me (including my aforementioned partner) sometimes ask me, “Are you feeling okay?” or “Do you have a migraine?” before I have even realized for myself that I am not well. How is it they tell?
It turns out I usually give myself away in a few different ways:'"
  1. my posture
  2. my not being able to verbalize my thoughts quickly
  3. the way my eyes look unfocused
  4. the way I am using my hand to rub my temple
  5. the way I am using my hand to rub my neck
  6. the way I am slowly rocking my head back and forth trying to stretch my neck Migraine.com
 Migraines are an invisible disability but just because they are Essentially invisible does not mean they do not have Tells to people who know you well. I always am aware I am getting a migraine myself but I also have tells that other people can also tell fairly early on that I am getting a migraine.

Mine are:

  • The brain fog and aphasia that really can kick in. Giving me the sudden case of the stupids. Unable to finish sentences. Unable to say words. Unable to say words properly. Real good indication I am getting a migraine as it is stronger and more defined than fibrofog which can be the same but milder.
  • My eyes get glazed and unfocused. I have had numerous people who know me well comment on my eyes as a migraine tell.
  • I will rub the left side of my neck.
  • I will roll my neck and try to ease the pain in it.


As stoic as I like to be people can pick up on the signals I give out if they know me. Because if they ask me you know what I will say...




 But the fact is I have migraines all the time and the fact is I do not always have these tells. Today I have a wicked acute migraine which got me thinking about this because my neck is killing me. I am sitting here and I keep rubbing it. In fact I rubbed menthol cream all over it. And a migraine balm along my jaw, forehead and temples. And I have been rolling my neck to try and ease the pain. And keeping my jaw slightly open to ease That pain. But I have been alert and I had no aphasia issues. So the symptoms change and if we show the symptoms also changes.

It has surprised me in the past when people have picked up on the fact I had a migraine when I thought I showed no indication of it. They said they could see it in my eyes. Yet other times I would have just a severely acute migraine and people were oblivious to it. But it didn't matter in those cases because I was at work, whether people noticed or not, I still had to hide the pain. You have to mask it in order to function and in front of customers. It was nice to know though that people were not completely oblivious to your suffering, you know? That the pain was not always completely invisible. Even though you had to hide it, it was nice to know people understood it was there and was difficult. And most of the people I worked with were great people. Very empathetic to the fact it was extremely difficult for me. Some really picked up on some of the odder symptoms... like the aphasia and so forth. A loathed having to constantly work under those conditions but they were a great bunch of people to work with. The company could have been a little more accommodating however, but such is life. They actually said it wasn't even a disability and they could not accommodate it. So to them it literally was invisible. To them it was simply something to be endured, preferably silently. And that is where invisible disabilities are a problem... they are invisible to some people such that they do not see them or care to acknowledge them. And to others they do see them and try to understand them, such that they do pick up on your tells because they can see the suffering and pain... some of the time.

I don't like my loved ones to see me suffering or in pain but it is a good thing that they can. Because then they know where you are at pain level wise. And it is good that they understand level of functioning at that moment, level of pain, what you need at that moment. Very helpful things. When I am in acute pain my spouse will cook dinner... just takes over and tells me to lie down before I fall down! And he lets me keep some lights off, rather than needing to, well, see. And he tries to be as quiet as possible. If he didn't know then he wouldn't do any of those things.
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