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Sharron's book is now available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever books are sold. The book can be purchased in print form or ebook format.

Conari Press, an imprint of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC  is the publisher of Sharron's book, Migraine: Identify Your Triggers, Break your Dependence on Medication, Take Back Your Life -  An Integrative Self-Care Plan for Wellness," released June, 2013. Follow Sharron on Twitter @murraysharron, and her page Sharron Murray, MS, RN on Facebook, for tips to help you battle your migraines and achieve wellness.



Migraine is a neurological disease - help change the conversation

"The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance."- Alan W. Watts

As more research continues to unfold about migraine, including increased knowledge about the pathogenesis, genetic and environmental influences, the economic burden to the individual and society, the toll on jobs and careers, and the affect of migraine on family relationships, the way we speak about migraine is beginning to change. For me, after living with migraine for so many years, I am beyond grateful to see the reference to migraine as a "bad headache" be replaced with migraine is a "neurological disease".

To change the conversation about migraine and "empower the more than 36 million individuals living with migraine to advocate for themselves to find the support and treatment they need", in March, 2017, the American Migraine Foundation launched the "Move Against Migraine" campaign. Three objectives of the campaign that stand out are:

  1. Raise awareness and brand migraine as a severe neurological disease.
  2. Empower and mobilize patients to advocate for themselves and live healthy and fulfilling lives.
  3. Inspire, motivate, and drive more funding for research into the causes and treatment of migraine so we can eventually and hopefully bring safer and more effective treatments to patients.

Let's take a closer look at these objectives. As I apply them to myself and my life with migraine, hopefully, as a person with migraine, if you haven't already, you can apply them to your life:

Raise awareness and brand migraine as a severe neurological disease 

In an interview with the American Migraine foundation, in a discussion of "It's simply not a headache",  Dr. Dodick mentions that the word "headache" is used flippantly and thus migraine isn't seen as a serious debilitating disease. He adds, "the stigma is that migraine patients can't withstand the stressors in life so they develop headaches". 

In my case, throughout my life, as I was told to pace myself and if I just learned to manage stress my headaches would disappear, I bought into this idea that somehow, because I couldn't cope with pressure, these "headaches" were my fault. Even, with the hours I spent at a migraine clinic and my visits with a psychologist and a biofeedback therapist, as well as lengthy discussions with my neurologist, I did not gain appreciation for migraine as a disease until my attacks became chronic and I was diagnosed with medication overuse headache. At that time, when my doctor told me I had to do something besides take medication for my headache and other symptoms, I began to educate myself. As I waded through the most recent evidence and research available about migraine, it was then I learned migraine was a severe neurological disease and headache was only one of many debilitating symptoms of a migraine attack...something, with the branding of migraine as a "severe neurological disease", I am much quicker to point out now to everyone, including my family, friends, doctors, and other members of my health care team.

Empower and mobilize patients to advocate for themselves and live healthy and fulfilling lives 

As I gain more knowledge about the pathogenesis (cause), genetics, and environmental influences (triggers) associated with migraine disease, I am increasingly empowered to take control of everything I can to help manage my attacks. For example, as I discover more about the hypothalamus and homeostasis and how a change in homeostasis like too much or too little sleep, dehydration, or skipped meals (hypoglycemia) may activate a migraine attack, I work harder to stick to routines like regular sleep, exercise and eating habits to manage these and other triggers for my attacks. In addition, where I had previously bought into stress as being the cause of my "headaches", I am firm on the realization that, although stress is a trigger for my attacks and makes me more susceptible to other triggers such as poor sleep, it is not the cause. However, that said, because stress is a factor in the frequency of my attacks, I am committed to managing my stress response through therapies like biofeedback and meditation. As I continue to approach migraine as a disease and focus on preventing attacks, not just treating symptoms like headache during attacks, I have been able to maintain the remittance to infrequent episodic migraine I achieved a number of years ago, and with many more migraine-free days, live a healthy and fulfilling life with migraine.

Excited about the Move Against Migraine campaign, I became a member of the American Migraine Foundaton Move Against Migraine Facebook Group, an effort to mobilize a community of migraine patients to become self-advocates and help us learn from one another. As well, along with resources available from the American Migraine Foundation, Facebook Live events provide access to experts who speak on a variety of topics. For me, being a part of this group, both as a member and a moderator, is a rich and rewarding experience.   

Inspire, motivate and drive more funding for research into the causes and treatments of migraine so we can eventually and hopefully bring safer and more effective treatments to patients. 

We all want safer and more effective treatments for migraine. By taking an active role in our care, educating the uniformed, raising our voices, and changing the conversation about migraine from "headache" to "migraine...a life-changing, debilitating disease that affects all aspects of our lives", we can inspire, motivate, and drive more funding into the causes and treatments of migraine and achieve our goal..."Plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance..." 

Sharron Murray MS, RN is an author and coauthor CaMEO Study, "Life With Migraine". Currently, Sharron is active in the migraine community as a writer, advocate, American Migraine Foundation Partner, moderator for the American Migraine Foundation "Move Against Migraine" Facebook Group, and member of the National Headache Foundation Patient Leadership Council. 

Follow Sharron on twitter @murraysharron, her FB page, Sharron Murray, MS, RN

This article is not a substitute for medical advce. If you have specific concerns about your health or nutrition, please contact a qualified professional.

Updated November 28, 2018

Copyright February 18, 2018 Sharron E. Murray

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