The Experience of Living with Migraine Told in Film

Migraine stories from our migraine community

Patients with migraine often have difficulty articulating their exact struggles to other people, especially coworkers, friends and loved ones. For our 3rd Annual Migraine Moment Short Film Contest, we invited members of our community to articulate their experience with this debilitating disease through the power of film. The submissions were powerful and showcased a great deal of diversity in style and themes.

In order to share the breadth and depth of migraine’s impact on every aspect of people’s lives, the American Migraine Foundation will continue to highlight film submissions each month. Read on to learn more about three selected films from our contest, and for a discussion of the themes covered in each film.

“A Migraine Horror”

Benjamin Bogard’s “A Migraine Horror” actually personifies migraine, turning it into a masked monster that haunts the protagonist of this suspenseful short. At first, his day seems to start off like any other. He fixes himself a cup of tea and checks his phone. Suddenly, a silent, faceless person appears before him.

The personification of migraine shows that this chronic illness is deeply personal and haunting for some people. Due to the difficulty of predicting or controlling their migraine attacks, people may feel powerless and vulnerable to the symptoms. However, by identifying his invisible disease as something external to himself, Ben is able to more easily depict his struggle with migraine. To read about how to support someone with migraine, download our free guide.

“The Waiting Wave”

Abby Norwood’s short film starts out depicting an idyllic day at the beach. The film is shot from the protagonist’s point of view and shows her enjoying sand, sun, and water with her dog and significant other. Until, that is, the onset of a migraine derails her day trip and forces her to withdraw into the dark indoors.

“The Waiting Wave” shows that even on the most relaxing of days, people living with migraine aren’t always safe from pain. While some foods and lifestyle factors are common migraine triggers, attacks can occur suddenly and aren’t always preventable. Furthermore, symptoms often persist during the interictal state between attacks. Fear of the next migraine attack can cause anxiety or depression, preventing many people from enjoying their migraine-free days.

“The Best We Can”

Katelyn Wright narrates her short “The Best We Can,” which is inspired by her personal experience with migraine. She shares the struggle of explaining migraine to friends and describes the painful symptoms with vivid metaphors and similes. However, in the end, she offers an inspiring message.

Katelyn, who has lived with migraine for 10 years, has come to accept her chronic illness and learned to “carry on.” There is no cure for migraine, but there are treatments that can help people manage their symptoms and reduce the frequency and intensity of migraine attacks. To learn more about living with migraine, download our guide on what to do after your diagnosis, and explore popular treatment options here.

Next month, we’ll continue to share the powerful videos submitted by members of the migraine community. Thank you to all the filmmakers who took the time to make these shorts and share their stories. In the meantime, you can watch all of the finalists here on YouTube, and learn more about migraine in our doctor-verified resource library.