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Migraines Suck: How Do You Describe Them?

Written and verified by Holly Hazen

I know I should not say this, but migraines suck. I am in search of a better more descriptive word so scroll down to see my list and vote on your favorite or even better add your own.  

Someone said to me a few years ago that if I thought more positively I would not get migraines.

I always have to pause when people say these things to me. You know, the people who have never had a migraine but are experts because their sister has them.

I have to admit that I do not know anyone with migraines. I am not sure why when the latest stats say millions of people get them. But this thought occurred to me - if you get 20 days a month like I do - then perhaps you stay in bed, can't work and maybe just don't meet a lot of people. 

Do you get out and meet people with debilitating migraines?

Year after year, time and time again, someone says something that hurts my feelings and tells me how to "CURE" my migraines.

Now you and I both know that currently there is no cure and if there was we'd be in there faster than a speeding bullet.

But no, we must endure this debilitating condition and the stigma that is still hanging around in society. 

So I decided to write up a list of words I would use to describe migraine pain. And I have to say that I struggle to use these words in public as too many people have responded like I exaggerate excessively. Well now, I'd rather let you tell me. 

Without further ado, here they are.

20 Words That Cause That Reaction I Don't Like

Here are the 20 apt, descriptive words I don't use in public anymore to describe my migraine attacks. 

1.  Brutal

2.  Cruel

3.  Relentless

4.  Soul Destroying

5.  Ruthless

6.  Heartbreaking 

7.  Tragic

8.  Unbearable

9.  Intolerable

10. Excruciating 

11.  Agonizing 

12.  Defeating

13.  Obliterating 

14.  Annihilating

15.  Devastating

16.  Destroying

17.  Demolishing 

18.  Demoralizing 

19.  Misery

20.  Vicious  

Words I Do Use Instead of Migraines Suck!

Splitting, throbbing, debilitating, severe, intense, crappy, awful, nasty and depressing. It's like I have to choose safe or gentle more descriptive words for everyone else. But it feels freeing to say these things to you because I know you get it.

It does feel like the back of my neck has been hit by a crow bar. Like the skeleton has been separated between the head and the spine. OUCH just doesn't cut it, does it. 

I also get a swollen eye on one side that will not stop watering and head pain behind one ear. So much fun, not.

I often say that migraines are not life threatening but they are life altering.

In the past I would wait to take my triptan medication until my pain levels reached about a four out of ten. Other times I would wait until I was a crying mess in bed. That was many years ago.

When I finally learned about the phases and timing of an attack and how best to stop it, that's when everything changed.

It changed how I managed my attacks... and helped me abort the pain phase more effectively. I did get more control and got my life back!

So I'm here to tell you that there are lots of ways to prevent migraines, depending of what you are diagnosed with and how severe they are. I would treat mild migraines differently to severe ones where possible. 

It's important to act fast and take your medications if you have ones you can take. Timing is everything. I cover that thoroughly in my course, here's the link...


Migraine Pain Management Course - it's FREE to enroll @migrainesavvy


I have a step-by-step pain management plan in my course. The first module is free so you can learn to manage your attacks asap... continue reading

Here are a few more ways I can help right now:

Please fill in the form below with your migraines suck words - positive or negative. I will add them to the page. You can click here or scroll down to the form.  

Wishing you another migraine free day!

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Comments On Migraines Suck

Relentless Migraines by Sarah

Oh this is great! Here are some words I use: frustrating, silencing, impacting, continuous, on and on and on.

by Valerie (Salt Lake City, Utah)

Great topic. I use these ones to describe my migraine attacks: shooting, shocking, surprising, inflexible, relentless, reckless, destructive, broken, intolerable.

by Robb

Thanks for supplying some of these words I can use with my doctor. I have a hard time describing the attacks but here are some that come to mind: abby normal (for when I am trying to be funny), throbbing, lightning bolts, blurred vision, snotty, alone, lonesomeness, silence required, war zone, terrifying, searching, seeking, finding nothing but pain.


Ok ... words to describe migraine that are not swear words ... that's a hard one. OH NO NOT AGAIN!

Wretched Migraines by Geoff

I just could not resist sending in some words that I often use to describe my migraine attacks that seem to catch others off guard or something.

Merciless, wretched, shattering, crushing, persistent, overwhelming...

Those are the nice ones.

by Carol Ann P

Do I really have to use nice words? OK, here are some I don't think you have yet: unyielding, harsh, repetitive, overwhelming, heart wrenching, gut wrenching, destructive, stabbing and isolating.

by Fraser

Hey there, I don't use any nice words for migraines ..... will you put shitty? 


Yes Fraser, I will! 


Head Splitting Migraines by Frank (Sydney)

Head splitting, eye crushing, snotty, blurry migraines.

Crippling Migraines

Crippling, psychedelic migraines have ruined my life. I only got them 2 years ago and I am lost now. Have read a few of your posts and am off to see the doc about a triptan. Anything to stop the pain. And the light shows. I feel like I am drugged. My eyes see what is not there, my nose thinks I am in a smoking den, and my ears hear high pitched noises from who knows where and seem to send me off balance. This sucks big time. I've had 2 kids and this makes that look like a piece of cake.

Migraines are Bullies @migrainesavvy

Migraines are Bullies

My Word For Migraines by Marvin J. Utterback (Boonville, Missouri)

I think migraines are bullies. Before I get one, during and after I feel like I have been beaten up. I feel like I have been hit over the head. I have been punched in the stomach (from vomiting I assume) and my head is all foggy. If we had bruised heads after a migraine maybe more people would understand the pain. If we had black eyes ….. they might get it. 

I don’t think it’s fair at all that everybody thinks this is just a headache. For days after a migraine attack my neck hurts and my shoulders feel tight. Sometimes my whole body feels stiff and sore. 

Yup. I think migraines are bullies. They sure beat me up and I can’t say a thing about that. They beat me up inside where no one can see.

They beat up my self-esteem and my inner compass. They leave me doubting myself and questioning if I am doing the right thing, taking the right medication, at the right time. I get confused, disoriented and dizzy. 

I question my job and my friendships when they don’t believe me. 

Yes, indeed .... migraines SUCK and they are bullies.