The Dark Night of the Soul: A Migraine Blog

December 28, 2015

by Dave McNamara

Rock-and-roll star Jeff Tweedy of the band Wilco suffered from migraines ever since he was a kid. When Wilco went big, the migraines continued, so much so that Tweedy would have to go backstage to throw up in-between sets. His throbbing migraines seemed unceasing, which led him, in part, to an addiction to painkillers. He kicked the habit in rehab. In the late great New York Times migraine blog—published in 2008—Tweedy was asked to share his experiences of migraines. His recollections are wonderfully frank and written in that spare style his fans have come to know and love. In one section, he writes, “You know, seeing a rock musician vomit on the side of the stage, I’m sure people thought I was completely out of my mind on drugs or strung out….Crazy thing is, in my business, that sort of thing is considered an asset. Sick but true.”

The Double Whammy: Migraines and the Fear of Another One

Tweedy talks about how migraines can bring a double-whammy: not only do you have the migraine, you also have a fear of getting another one. In short, you have a kind of panic disorder. The searing pain of a migraine, when ceasing, can bring with it an intense panic about when the next migraine will start, which, in turn, brings about migraines faster. When does the pain stop?

Migraines are painful, can last for hours or days, and can be very isolating. When the “aura” of a migraine starts to manifest itself, the one afflicted with it know what’s coming. They then frantically search for the darkest, quietest place they can find, and try to sleep or wait it out. For those who do not suffer from migraines, it can be hard to empathize with the situation.  Can’t the person just shake it off, calm themselves, take a few aspirin, and get on with it?

The Self-Doubt

Even worse is when the migraine-sufferer starts to doubt him/herself about their own affliction. Tweedy writes:

The truth is, as migraine sufferer you begin to doubt yourself, too. There were a lot times when I wondered, “Am I really getting a migraine or am I just dreading what I have to do and because of that starting to work myself up in to lather?” And it becomes a vicious cycle, or circle, of second-guessing and wondering what’s really happening, especially if you’re someone prone to the type of self-examination or introspection that I am.

What do you think? Have you doubted yourself on account of your migraines?

Migraines are a very particular kind of headache that’s non-comparable to others. Not only that: they’re incessant, so the person afflicted with them are in constant dread of the next one to hit. All subsidiary afflictions to migraines – depression, anxiety, self-doubt – are part of the affliction. More than 28 million Americans suffer from migraine headaches, one of the most debilitating of pain disorders. Symptoms like excruciating pain, visual disturbance and disorientation are often compounded by long-term emotional, physical and financial costs.

The Mayo Clinic[1] offers a few ways to deal with Migraines, such as lifestyle changes and medication, but in light of The New York Times’ moving and often emotionally wrenching posts on well-known migraine sufferers, these types of suggestions seem more like antidote than cure. The truth is: migraines can cause significant disruption to a person’s life. And with the likeliness of recurrence, an ongoing battle.

Company Helps

Check out the other blog posts from other famous migraine sufferers – you may find some comfort—and even some inspiration—in their tales of woe and, sometimes, sometimes, hope and recovery. Here’s the link.

While getting hit with yet another migraine, it often feels that no one understands the pain so acutely as you do. With helpful posts like this, in that deep, dark place one waits in for the migraine to go away, there may be some solace in knowing that you are not alone.

If you suffer from chronic migraines, please call the Migraine Treatment Centers of America. We may be able to help with a minimally invasive implant. The number is: (855) 980-7530

[1] 1. Mayo Clinic Staff, “Migraine Definition,” Mayoclinic June 4, 2013, accessed December 14, 2015,

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