Does Migraine negatively impact friendships? You’d think so, wouldn’t you? I’ve certainly changed more plans due to Migraine than anything else. On the other hand, life, getting married, being an adult, being out of school, having a job, and having a family, can all impact friendships. Add Migraine or other chronic illness to that list, and it’s the icing on the cake.

I must say all my friends seem to be quite understanding of my need to cancel plans, or the long gaps when I’m not in touch. They are concerned and loving when I share with them about my struggles with Migraine. I think,though, that I’ve already gotten them trained not to expect too much from me! The best I can say about that is that none of them are all that great at being in touch either! Which at least takes the edge off my guilt feelings.

My best time for friendships was the last two years of high school and the four years of college. Law school wasn’t half bad either. And my first few years of work, before getting married. I was in a fun and stimulating environment, with a lot of people my age, sharing a common experience. The first inkling of change came when I fell in love, and my friend Kathe said, “We won’t be seeing much of you for a while.” I vowed it would not be so, but sure enough - if you’re spending lots of wonderful delicious time with one person, you can’t spend as much of it with your friends. 24 hours in a day, right? (Here’s me and Kathe in college.)

And then the pressures of a career close in. And if you have kids - forget the next 10 years at least! Then you leave the city where everyone was a subway ride away and you move to where you have to drive to get anywhere, where everyone’s more spread out, everyone has oodles of plans with their own kids, and the people nearby aren’t always the ones you’d most want to hang out with.

But this was supposed to be about Migraine. My migraines increased steadily at the same time these other life pressures increased. Life threw some more things my way - the terminal illnesses and deaths of my in-laws, the long recovery from grief in my own household, my sinus problems, severe allergies, career changes for Danny and me both. There have always been dear friends who I can call and cry to, or laugh with. Sometimes I wonder how they could stand my repeated tales of woe. As my migraines increased, time spent with friends decreased.

I just don’t see my friends, or talk to them, enough. I miss them. I’ve been missing them for over 20 years. And I know Migraine has made it harder - much harder, for me to make new friends. On one famous occasion Danny and I had an outdoor brunch at a trendy place with a couple we really liked - and I managed not to puke in the gutter until we were crossing the street back to their apartment. We never socialized with them again! Coincidence?

Year before last one of my best friends from High School, Laura, was ordained as an Episcopal deacon. I flew out to Chicago for her ordination, meeting up with two more of our closest High School friends. I endured long flight delays due to thunder storms, a noisy hotel, and lack of sleep. Had a wonderful day at the ceremony and party with Laura and her family, and David and Vick. My migraine didn’t hit until I was out to dinner with David and Vick, head down on the table, unable to eat any of the expensive gourmet food I had just ordered. They took me back to my hotel and took care of me. They were angels. But it was not how I had wanted to spend the time with them! (The picture is from Laura’s ordination party - me & my High School buds, 29 years after graduation!)

Life is hard enough on our relationships. We don’t need Migraine on top of it all, making it harder. I just try to keep sharing, keep calling, keep trying to make plans. And when I do talk to my friends, I feel so much better.

Friends do make life worth living!

Author's Bio: 

Megan Oltman is a migraineur, an entrepreneur, and a Migraine Management Coach, helping migraineurs and people with chronic illness manage their lives, keep working, start and maintain businesses, and live purposeful lives. She also practices as a professional divorce mediator. Over the years, she's been a practicing attorney, a free-lance writer, and a business coach and advisor. Megan has a free Migraine management course, The Six Keys to Manage your Migraines and Take Back your Life, available at Her writings on Migraine and more tools for managing life with Migraine can be found at