Family support can make migraine management easier.
Migraines can feel like an isolating condition to deal with, but they don't just affect the individual. They can affect the entire family as well, causing disruption in plans, family routines, and more. Plus, not being able to show up for the important things in your spouse’s or child’s life can take a toll on the relationship.
Luckily, there are ways to prevent or cope with these conflicts. Getting the right treatment for you can keep migraines to a minimum. Plus, including your family in your migraine management may reduce conflicts or challenges in the home.
Benefits of Explaining Migraines
One thing you may want to do is talk to your children about your migraines. This has two major benefits.
First of all, migraines can sometimes be hereditary. It may be useful to explain and be open about your migraine experience to your children. That way, if they develop migraines in the future, they can learn from your own experiences.
Second, it helps for them to know what you're going through. When they “get it,” they will be more willing to let you rest in a dark room without disrupting, for example. One of the best things to explain to them are what the days would potentially look like when you have migraines. Then they aren’t blindsided when their routines change.
Plan the Conversation Ahead of Time
It may help to plan what you are going to say to your children. It depends on their age; you’re not going to talk about it to your 18-year-old son the same way you would your six-year-old daughter. The person should walk away from the conversation with an age-appropriate understanding of the topic. As they grow older, you can give them more complex information.
Have a Family Plan
Most importantly, your family should know that you will sometimes need time to yourself to lie down in a dark, quiet room. This may require the rest of the family to adjust on these days. If you have frequent migraines, it may help to develop a plan for when you are resting or debilitated.
Some questions to consider include:
- If you normally prepare meals, who will take on this task when you have a migraine?
- How should the kids get help for homework or other questions without disrupting you?
- What are the expectations for noise levels when you have a migraine?
- Are the kids allowed to have friends over when you’re having an attack?
- If you normally feed the pets or take the dog for a walk, who will take on this task?
- What are things you might need during a migraine that your kids can help you with (e.g. a glass of water)?
If your migraines feel out of control, or like they are affecting your life and relationships, reach out for help. Your doctor can adjust your treatment to find one that works for you. They can also give you advice for how to manage family life with migraines, or how to explain your migraines to your children.
Noah Rosen, MD, is the director at the Northwell Health Headache Center.