Day 16 of migraine awareness challenge

If we’re ever going to break down stigma, we must first become visible. That requires each of us to let down our guard, stop hiding, and let our vulnerability show. It’s scary, I know. The risk of ridicule is real. Yet I believe that we are brave, strong, and capable of shouldering that burden. It’s time we showed the world how strong we really are.

What is one way that you have been hiding? Tell us about your plan to stop hiding. What will you do differently? What might get in your way? How will you navigate the barriers and roadblocks?

The pain facade of a person with migraine


I hide my pain behind smiles and jokes. I am very stoic about pain and generally do not show it. I don’t know if I think it is weakness to express it or it was because of all the stigma I have experienced that has told me to feel shame, guilt, or exaggerating.

So I hide it.

I have talked about the facades we do and why some of them are fine but some are counterproductive.

And I use a facade a lot to prevent people from worry about me. Although lately with the vertigo I am fooling no one, not when it is hard to stand and sit upright, and I move funny because the floor is moving, or how cognitively confused I get. But pain, I hide.

I am very blunt though on my blog. The facade goes down and I explain exactly how illness and chronic pain affect us. I am very open with my life and experiences.

Where I fail is expressing myself in real life. I don’t want to seem a complainer. I don’t want my loved ones to worry. I don’t want to be told I am exaggerating. Doctors have trained me to minimize my pain when I see their doubt. And others have taught me I should feel guilty.

But lately I have been more inclined to express myself so that people know the pain level and the decrease in functioning when it is high. What gets in the way of this is my ingrained laugh off the pain thing I do. How I always minimize the pain. Years of stigma just makes me more stoic. So people do not see it, but I certainly do.

See also

The facade effect

We wear our pain on the inside

People never see the worst

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