theSkimm on Living with Migraine, featuring Karamo Brown

Published on: Dec 7, 2020fb-roundtwitter-roundemail-round
Karamo Brown and images of phone, brain, and succulent
The Story

2020 has been...something else. It’s giving new meaning to words like uncertainty and stress. And stress can be a common trigger for migraine. Even if you’re not one of the millions of Americans who suffer from migraine, it’s important to understand what it’s like.

So tell me what it’s like. 

Migraine is a complex neurological disease that can make it harder to do normal, everyday stuff. Not-so-fun fact: a single episode can last up to 72 hours. And unlike the dull pressure of a headache, it typically involves intense throbbing or pulsing (especially on one side of the head), nausea, and sensitivity to light and/or sound. Since it can be hard to imagine if you don’t live with migraine, we got the details from someone who does. 

Anyone I know?

Karamo Brown from “Queer Eye,” so yeah. He has been affected by migraine since he was in high school. And says it “can be extremely debilitating,” and “takes time away from the things and people” he loves. Including the ones he loves most: his two sons. Migraine also impacts Karamo’s work life. “Lights and long hours on set can sometimes trigger my migraine,” he shares. He also usually travels a lot for work, which can wear him down. 

Karamo is lending his voice to the Know Migraine Mission initiative because he feels migraine is “misunderstood and hard to talk about.” He wants others living with migraine to know “speaking up can help strengthen relationships and reduce the stigma around this disease.” 

Stigma? What stigma?

A lot of people that don’t have migraine think it’s ‘just a headache.’ That mischaracterization doesn’t just hurt the feelings of those who live with migraine. It can impact decisions, like whether they open up to their bosses, friends or family. And even whether they talk to a doctor about a migraine management plan. 

Yikes. What can I do about it?

If these symptoms sound all too familiar, Karamo has some tips for opening up. Because talking to the people in your life will help them understand the disease. Think...

  • Your doctor. Consider making an appointment with a migraine expert, like a neurologist or headache specialist. If you’re not comfy going in person, look for one that will talk to you virtually. Tell them your symptoms, and how they interfere with your daily life. This will make it easier for them to find the right management plan for you. Psst...management plans have come a long way in recent years. There are even preventive options that may reduce monthly migraine days. Fewer migraine days can mean more time to do the things you care about.

  • Your manager. When you’re feeling well, get a formal meeting on their work calendar. Tell them what living with migraine means for you, and what (if any) accommodations you might need. It can be intimidating, but remember: everyone involved is rooting for you to succeed. 

  • Your loved ones. Be honest with your friends and fam about how disabling migraine can be for you. Pro tip: get ahead of it. Don’t wait until you have to cancel plans to have the convo. And take them up on any offers to pick up dinner, walk your dog or *insert something you told them would be helpful* on a migraine day. You can return the favor when you’re feeling better. 

Anything else?

It’s also smart to identify your triggers. Karamo recommends staying flexible and not beating yourself up when you can’t do something because of migraine. “Sometimes I’ll try to power through, but usually I need to take time for myself to rest and recharge,” he says. Getting a massage and spending time with his kids are two of his favorite forms of self-care. Other ideas: taking a warm shower, meditating, and stretching. 

Another thing that’s made a difference for Karamo? Scheduling breaks on long trips and workdays. He also has some advice if you’re feeling overwhelmed right now: “During these trying times, you need to care for yourself before you can fully care for others.”

theSkimm

Learning more about migraine can give you the tools you need to take care of yourself. And help combat the stigma around it. Reading this was a good start. Don’t stop now: Head to www.KnowMigraineMission.com for more info. 

Skimm'd by Elizabeth Smith and Jessica Kelly


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