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Migraine and Chronic Pain in Teenagers

Having a chronic illness or chronic pain is life-altering and the stigma of invisible illness can be infuriating for anyone, but it can be especially difficult for teenagers. Sometimes the very people who are supposed to support and protect them — teachers, coaches, school nurses, doctors and even parents — don’t even believe them. (Sadly, many of you don’t have to imagine this scenario because you lived it.)

Psychology professor and Psychology Today blogger Nancy Darling, whose teen son has migraine, provides an insightful and touching take on migraine and chronic pain in teenagers.

Withdrawn, Irritable Teen? Is It A Migraine? points out that migraine often doesn’t look like migraine and that the associated¬†absentmindedness, irritability and isolation can look like a normal “teenage funk.” She also explains why migraine looks so much like a kid trying to get out of going to school.

Children Who Go to School in Pain walks readers through a day when her son has a migraine. The most poignant part is “faking being well.” That’s right, despite the common accusation that the chronically ill are faking illness, many of us are actually faking being well. Whether you’re a teenager or adult, I’m betting that resonates with many of you; it certainly does me.

Please take a look at Dr. Darling’s posts. Even if you’re not a parent, the struggles she describes are important for everyone to be aware of. As a former teenager with chronic illness, I’m relieved to read about a topic that gets far too little attention.

4 thoughts on “Migraine and Chronic Pain in Teenagers”

  1. Thanks so much for your continued work with your blog Kerrie. There is not a lot of firsthand information available about NDPH and it is good to have this resource.

    1. You’re welcome, Lori! I’m glad you’ve found it helpful. Unfortunately, there’s really not much information about NDPH at all. Have you read Paula Kamen’s “All in My Head” or Jennette Fulda’s “Chocolate and Vicodin”? Both are accounts of NDPH.

      Take care,

  2. Thank you for the reference! It is Nancy Darling, though, not Sandra Darling. Sandra does really interesting work on adolescent sexuality. I study parent-child relationships. And my son, sadly, has awful migraines.

    1. I’m sorry! I’ve corrected the post. Sandra Darling must be a name from my graduate work on adolescents and gender roles that I unwittingly paired with you. I’m sorry about your son, but deeply appreciate you writing about his experience.

      Take care,

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