The “Migraine Pose” Is Giving Me A Headache

I’m sharing my personal migraine story in partnership with Promius Pharma as a paid spokesperson. The story, thoughts, and opinions below are expressly my own. Promius Pharma is not responsible for any other content on this site.

I’ve recently noticed that the “migraine selfie” has become a trend in the fashion industry and especially on Instagram. Socialites, models, and Insta-famous celebrities are using this pose to gain more likes and comments on their social accounts. The look is meant to express a dramatic feel, while still showcasing fashion, beauty, and sex appeal. Did I mention it’s also a great way to showcase a brand-new manicure?

Um – no.

Well-known publications are even chiming in on the trend claiming that the “migraine pose” is the hottest move to hit the market this year. Didn’t you know? Everyone who is anyone is working it, and with the right filter, you can look like you are fashionably suffering through a migraine, too. 

There’s just one tiny problem with the whole movement. It’s completely and utterly tone deaf and 100% disrespectful to the millions of individuals who are plagued with migraines daily.

Migraine attacks are no laughing, or should I say artistic, matter. They are debilitating. They remove people from their lives. There is no cure. It is a lifelong disease that people pray their children don’t inherit.

It is the silent monster.

Migraine monsters plague patients and make sure they suffer during the most inopportune times. So, no, I will not pose for a migraine selfie alongside some of the catwalk’s current greats. Instead, I want to provide insight and education into the reality of living with migraines.


What A Real Migraine Selfie Looks Like:

If you want to understand what an actual migraine selfie looks like, allow me to break it down for you.

It doesn’t exist.

Most migraine patients would never be able to take a selfie during an attack. Someone suffering through a migraine attack wouldn’t have the capacity to think about Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or Facebook. Flashing lights and filters? I don’t think so—more like dim lights and medication. That’s what is typically racing through someone’s mind during an onset of a migraine attack.

People may experience nausea, auras, dizziness, unbearable pain, sinus pressure—maybe all at once. Never, in between any of those emotions or sensations, would a migraine patient think, “This would make a great Instagram photo!!!”

I’ve had a migraine for two days, now going on three. That’s how I get them, a few days at a time, and I’ve become accustomed to it. Sometimes my migraines are triggered by outside forces, like the rain.

Without fail, if a storm begins to creep into my part of the state, I will get a migraine. Unfortunately, that migraine won’t go away until the storm completely clears. If the storm is wide enough, my migraine can last days. I am at the mercy of Mother Nature. There is nothing I can do.

But I have a husband and three children. I have a full-time job. I have a house. I have friends. I have a life that I must live. How on earth can I remove myself from all these things for three or four days at a time? It is an impossible task. So, those who suffer from migraine do what we must. We seek treatment and minimize potential triggers until our migraine is over.

During that time, this is what I look and feel like:

  • unable to look at bright light
  • unable to take care of myself or the house
  • lack of desire to do anything but feel better
  • in utter pain

And this is what I do NOT look and feel like:

• taking a migraine selfie for my fans

Share your Real Migraine Selfie

If you would like to correct the Migraine Selfie image and push the movement back towards the right direction, we would love for you to get involved.

  • TWITTER –> Tweet a photo of your Real Migraine Selfie with hashtag #realmigraineselfie and tag @VeraSweeney
  • INSTAGRAM –> Post a photo of your Real Migraine Selfie with hashtag #realmigraineselfie and tag @VeraSweeney

Show Compassion

I understand that social media is a huge part of our lives, so much so that it feels like there is no turning back. But there are so many things we can do to better educate people about migraines and migraine advocacy. Instagram celebrities, if you want to show off your nail polish, then go ahead. By all means! I would love to see what colors you pick!

But don’t call it a “migraine selfie,” because when you do, you trivialize a disease awareness movement that we are trying to make visible.

Educate Your Friends

If you suffer from migraines, talk to your friends about what it REALLY feels like when you have a migraine, and how different it is from an average headache. Tell your friends what it feels like to miss out on events with your children. Admit how you sometimes feel like a failure because you can’t do NORMAL things—like spend a day at the beach—because you know it will trigger a massive migraine. Admit it. Say these things out loud; cry if you have too! They need to see how hard it is to live with what we have.

I’m literally tearing up writing this because I tell my children all the time how much I wish I was stronger for them. I can’t do so many things because of how my brain was naturally wired. I try the best I can to manage my migraines. I educate myself with migraine education resources like No Time 4 Migraines. I regularly speak to my neurologist and have a great plan of action, with both preventative and acute medications.

My neurologist also keeps me up-to-date about the latest and greatest news in the industry. You should do the same! Talk to your doctor today about what treatments are available, because you should not handle migraines alone.

I just want to say this one more time. These Instagram celebrities are all beautiful women. They should continue to take as many beautiful selfies as they’d like. Go for it! I wish that all women had as much confidence as they all do. BRAVA! But don’t use the term migraine to describe anything that it is NOT.

Your beauty pose looks nothing like a migraine. Believe me, I wish that it did. To suffer through one is to know it. And you, my dears, luckily do not.

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  1. Lillian Hinkelman wrote:

    There were times when I told my husband that he should video me while I had a migraine and was suffering in my bed. No other words or photos would be necessary. All my friends and doctors could view it and maybe they could be educated and realize what an attack is like and the life a person with chronic intractable migraine lives.

    Posted 7.31.18
    • Vera wrote:

      I know exactly what you mean. Thank you for sharing this. Living with migraines is a true test.

      Posted 7.31.18
  2. Beth Ray wrote:

    You are right on point, Vera. I guess my migraine pose would be me slumped down in our massage chair trying to get to just the right spot on the back of my head; or me giving myself an Imitrex injection in my thigh. I have had a headache for five consecutive days. Every day I feel more hopeless.

    Posted 8.1.18
  3. Jill Schweikarth wrote:

    I also have had migraines every day for last 5 days.
    What is going on. It really gets me down

    Posted 8.1.18
  4. Connie wrote:

    I appreciate this so much. I’ve had a migraine that lasted 3 days. No medication helped. I couldn’t tolerate light, sound, the smell of food..the vibration from the floor of someone walking back to the bedroom to check on me would make me grab the mattress and ‘hang on’, as the inner ear issues would make me feel like I was being thrown off the bed. Then last year, I had a new type of migraine-Occipital Neuralgia, I believe. That made me long for the ‘classic’ migraine I had been having. I’ve wondered if I was having a stroke, an do you explain to someone that it feels like your head is crawling, or something is gnawing on your scalp, your head is/eyeballs are on fire without sounding like a lunatic? When stress is a trigger, but you live in fear of when another one will decide to pay a visit. Kinda stressful. Again, I appreciate knowing I’m not alone, but sad that others are suffering like this, also.

    Posted 8.2.18
  5. Nikki wrote:

    I completely agree with you. My “migraine pose” involves me curled up screaming on my bed wishing I could just chop off my head and be done with it, or hunched over the toilet desperately trying not to throw up my meds while waiting for them to kick in. It ticks me off (and that’s my using my nice words) when people use very real and debilitating illnesses as a social media trend.

    With my migraines, if I manage to wake up without one, there’s a good chance I’ll be okay for the day. If I wake with one, I’m screwed. It will not go away until 6PM, every single time, no matter what I take, and I’ve taken some hard pain meds to ease them a bit.

    Thank you for raising awareness about this!

    Posted 8.21.18

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