Bettina's Story

"One of the hardest things about living with migraine is what it takes from your life. It’s not just missing the big events because you’re in pain, but also the smaller things. Day-to-day moments with family and friends."

"It’s also the time that you’re waiting. My doctors have been fantastic, but there’s so much time spent waiting to even get to that point and get some direction."

"The thing with migraine is there’s no one-size-fits-all treatment plan, and the way through it is trial and error, but that trial and error impacts the way you live because you still need to work, to parent, to enjoy life."

"One of the things that it takes away is spontaneity. You’re often planning around what might be a trigger, and so it takes away that spark of joy you get from spontaneity. I miss being able to do something on a whim and trust that I’m going to be fine."

"While migraine is experienced by both men and women, potentially due to hormonal effects, women tend to suffer from migraine more than men.43 I feel that if men experienced the hormonal changes that women go through during menstruation, perimenopause and menopause, there would have been more research into the effects already. We’re only just starting to look into it for women now, and it feels very frustrating that it has taken so long for this to be recognised as a significant health issue. It needs to be addressed and properly funded, then we can really look at making an impact on women’s lives."

43. Casale R, Atzeni F, Bazzichi L, et al. Pain in Women: A Perspective Review on a Relevant Clinical Issue that Deserves Prioritization. Pain Ther. 2021 Jun;10(1):287– 314. 2x

Shikha’s Story

"I feel like society rarely talks about the pain women feel in the postpartum phase. After giving birth to all of my children, I was in physical pain for weeks after, but with my third child, it was especially bad. I experienced such excruciating post-birth pain that it was hard to just get on with things day-to-day. Sometimes it was so bad that I couldn’t even get out of bed. I couldn’t easily go to the toilet or get myself food. It would sometimes be so intense that it took away from the time I should have been spending bonding with my baby."

People talk about the pain during birth, but not how much it will affect you afterwards. I think it’s not really discussed because women are expected to experience this pain and just get on with it. We’re expected to tolerate pain right from the moment we hit puberty, and the menstrual cycle begins, through to when we go through the menopause."

"If more people felt like they could share these experiences, I feel we could better prepare both mentally and physically for the pain. That would mean more of the post-birth experience could be channelled into the joy of having a newborn."

"Pain is especially hard when you’re a mother because you’re juggling so many things. Finding the time to rest or even to go and seek help for it is tough. Plus, you worry that you’ll see a professional and be dismissed: like you shouldn’t have bothered seeking advice because it’s 'normal' to be in pain for certain things. From a young age, women are conditioned to feel like they just have to endure pain as part of life and, as you get older, that conditioning continues to the point where you learn to ignore it and see no point in seeking help."

"It’s been interesting to witness the perception the general public have for women when they talk about their pain versus when it’s men. It’s like there’s this perceived stoicism in men. If they say they’re in pain, it’s listened to. It definitely has not felt that way for me. I do believe that if a man had been in the same level of pain I was, it would be handled differently."

Elyssa’s Story

"Last year, I fractured my pelvis, while playing futsal on tour in New Zealand. My iliac crest was displaced and, despite the professionals at the hospital telling me the scans were showing a really bad injury, I was told to just go home and get through it. I wasn’t offered any pain relief whatsoever."

"I’m only 19 and was at the peak of my sporting career. But, after the injury, things fell apart quite quickly. What was most upsetting was feeling like I just had to live with the pain. To tough it out on my own."

"Living with constant pain is obviously not easy. I had to focus on just getting through each day. It was hard to do the most basic things. I’m a pretty independent person and it’s hard when you can’t tie your own laces, walk on your own or even get out of bed. Everything is uncomfortable, everything is difficult, but you just have to get used to it."

"I wasn’t able to go out with friends and do things like sit down and have a picnic because I couldn’t get up or down. Plus, I was not living with family. I felt almost stranded."

"My treatment plan had been “do whatever doesn’t cause pain”. That was it. It’s a tough guideline to follow; even sneezing would leave me in tears. Ultimately, I felt insignificant, or I was made to feel like I was being dramatic and exaggerating the pain. I know that the men in my life who have been through smaller medical inconveniences or injuries have been provided much more detailed care than I was, despite everyone acknowledging the severity of my injury."