Migraine Sufferers Get Social to Raise Awareness

Bloggers and users of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and Tumblr are making a concerted effort to communicate their experience with migraine and headache disorders.

Bloggers and users of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and Tumblr are making a concerted effort to communicate their experience with migraine and headache disorders.

Because the effects of migraines are invisible to those who do not suffer from them, many fail to recognize migraine as a serious condition that deserves increased awareness and research. Some who have never experienced how debilitating migraine headaches can be may even suspect that migraine pain is invalid or fabricated. To counter these perceptions, the American Headache and Migraine Association has launched a social media campaign to coincide with migraine and headache awareness month.

Throughout the month, the association, along with others in the migraine community, has been challenging migraine sufferers and non-sufferers alike to post at least once a day on the social media platform of their choice about migraines or headaches. Individuals are also encouraged to share a migraine fact each day of the month on their Facebook or Google+ page drawn from a fact sheet posted on the association’s website. Some of the facts, such as the one for June 6, may come as a surprise to many: “Headache disorders and migraine cost the US economy more than $31 billion annually.” The fact sheet can also be printed and shared with those who are not engaged with social media.

A separate fact sheet was also created specifically for Twitter users. It contains a list of Twitter-friendly facts for each day of the month, complete with corresponding hashtags. Twitter users are also encouraged to reach out to a list of celebrities on Twitter who are known migraine sufferers, in the hopes of expanding the reach of their tweets and raising even more awareness. One fact that has been tweeted multiple times: “Congress has NEVER held a public hearing for #Migraine or #Headache Disorders #MHAM #MHAM13 @AHDA.”

Bloggers have also been enlisted in the campaign. The association has challenged them to write a post about migraines or headache disorders every day of the month and has provided a list of prompts for inspiration. The topics are movie-themed and take a range of approaches, from the silly (the “Harry Potter­” prompt that asks bloggers to write a spell to get rid of migraine attacks) to the practical (the “Mamma Mia” prompt that deals with how migraines affect sufferers financially). The association has asked bloggers to post their link on the Fighting Headache Disorders blog page to share their experiences with others.

Many of the bloggers participating in the challenge regularly write about their experience with migraines and have eagerly embraced the task of describing their condition in creative ways. In a post responding to the “Pretty Woman” prompt, the author of the Migraine Mayhem blog compares living with migraines to the experience of Eliza Doolittle in “My Fair Lady.” Using a series of pictures and text, the blogger explains that while she is dressed up she fits in with the rest of society, however, it is only a matter of time before her migraines expose and alienate her.

For those who prefer to express their thoughts visually rather than in writing, there is also a photo challenge. Users of Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook are asked to post a picture each day relating to their experience with migraines or headache disorders on themes such as hobbies, pain, and relief. Participants are encouraged to interpret the prompts however they like in order to creatively represent their personal experiences.

In addition to the daily posting challenges, the association also suggests including hashtags in all relevant posts as well as using graphics, such as the association’s logo, when participating in social media activities.

The overall theme for this year’s migraine and headache awareness month is “Unmasking the Mystery of Chronic Headache Disorders.” Toward that end, the ultimate goal of all these social media activities is to help eliminate the stigma often associated with chronic migraines and headaches.

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