Managing Migraine in the Workplace – Louise O’Sullivan, Patient Story

By 8 July 2021October 12th, 2022MAI News, Patient Stories, Support

“Most people see migraine as a singular thing, a headache that you get which will go away once you take some painkillers. Unfortunately, that couldn’t be more opposite from the truth. Migraine is a neurological condition with multiple symptoms that range far and beyond a headache and can last for days at a time. Managing a condition like that while working can be difficult. The workplace can be a stressful environment at times which makes it an area that migraineurs really have to mind themselves in. I have been very lucky that my employer has always been supportive and understanding of just how unpredictable a condition like migraine can be. I feared that if I had multiple attacks or recurring attacks that it would be a source of hassle for me at work and perhaps go against me in a professional capacity. Thankfully, that hasn’t been the case. From day one they have always accommodated my requests and helped wherever they could, they changed the lighting around where I sit and got me an adjustable desk for my posture to try to improve my environment and make it more migraine friendly. Unfortunately, that is not always the case for other migraine sufferers, therefore awareness needs to be raised not just about migraine but about migraine in the workplace too.”

“When a migraine occurs in work it can be very upsetting. You may be in the middle of an important task or a meeting and everything must stop. For me, I must immediately go to the bathroom and take my medication and wait for the Aura to pass. I have often had to get colleague to come down to the bathroom just to bring me some water or if I have been gone a while to check on me. I have good friends at work who are aware of my migraine and can often spot when I might be having one by looking at me or if I disappear suddenly. That support is imperative to managing migraine in the workplace. There have of course been times when I have had to leave work, times when I can drive myself once the aura passes and before the other symptoms become too strong, times when I must leave my car there and get a taxi home or have a colleague drive me home. I have at times, been out of work over a week due to migraine and although I have support from my employers I myself am still very conscious of how much work I am missing which can make me quite anxious.”

“Migraineurs will often try to hide the condition out of fear that employers will lack understanding or worse, out of fear that they may lose their job if their absence becomes too frequent. That brings about so much stress because it branches out to worry about financial obligations and so on. So much education and awareness need to be made available to employers as some may simply not be aware of how complex migraine can be. Information on triggers, how to spot when someone is having a migraine and how they can help their employees with the condition are just some of the ways things could improve. Another one which I think is important is to have somewhere quiet and dark where a migraine sufferer can retreat to if they need to reduce Stimuli. Raising awareness is just the beginning of what needs to be done, employers then need to evaluate their own work environments and see how they can implement changes to accommodate their employees who suffer with this invisible condition.”

“I have always found The Migraine Association of Ireland to be great source of support and advice for migraine sufferers. When migraine became more of a dominant issue in my life in recent years, they have always provided resources and guidance in all aspects of managing the condition. For anyone looking for information, whether you deal with migraine yourself, or, if you are supporting someone or staff members with migraine, please visit .”

Louise O’Sullivan, Patient Story

*Please note, this story is for educational purposes only. It cannot be reused without permissions from The Migraine Association of Ireland to protect each patient’s GDPR rights. If you would like to use this story, please contact us first to request permission. Thank you.*