Migraine does not discriminate amongst leaders, presidents, artists, actors, elite athletes, singers, authors and others who have made significant achievements and contributions to our society, culture, and history. There are many influential, rich or famous people with migraine.
There are also many more outside this list who have migraine, but keep it hidden.
Can we blame them?
With migraine comes discrimination, stigma and social ostracism. Given the unpredictability of migraine and the often disabling nature of attacks, it requires an unusually brave person to speak out publicly about their migraine attacks.
Below is a list of the 50 most influential and well-known people reported to have migraine. Many should be applauded for their advocacy efforts.
- 1 50. Ian Thorpe
- 2 49. Kristin Chenoweth
- 3 48. Suzanne Shaw
- 4 47. Susan Olsen
- 5 46. Virginia Madsen
- 6 45. Tori Spelling
- 7 44. Marcia Cross
- 8 43. Scotty Pippen
- 9 42. Carly Simon
- 10 41. Jennifer Morrison
- 11 40. Paul Scholes
- 12 39. Princess Margaret
- 13 38.Michele Bachmann
- 14 37. Simon Cowell
- 15 36. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
- 16 35. Janet Jackson
- 17 34. Gwen Stefani
- 18 33. Percy Harvin
- 19 32. Georges Seurat
- 20 31. Lewis Carroll
- 21 30. Elle Macpherson
- 22 29. Lisa Kudrow
- 23 28. Terrell Davis
- 24 27. Loretta Lynn
- 25 26. Dwyane Wade
- 26 25. Miguel de Cervantes
- 27 24. Robert E Lee
- 28 23. James Cromwell
- 29 22. Cindy McCain
- 30 21. Fredrich Nietzche
- 31 20. Sharon Stone
- 32 19. Hugh Jackman
- 33 18. Gwyneth Paltrow
- 34 17. Ben Affleck
- 35 16. Whoopi Goldberg
- 36 15. Ulysses S. Grant
- 37 14. Virginia Woolf
- 38 13. Serena Williams
- 39 12. Elizabeth Taylor
- 40 11. Kanye West
- 41 10. Charles Darwin
- 42 9. Anne Frank
- 43 8. Vincent Van Gogh
- 44 7. Claude Monet
- 45 6. Julius Caesar
- 46 5. Sigmund Freud
- 47 4. John F Kennedy
- 48 3. Napoleon
- 49 2. Thomas Jefferson
- 50 1. Elvis Presley
- 51 Conclusion
50. Ian Thorpe
This 5 time Olympic gold medalist won the most medals of any Australian competitive swimmer. He has won eleven World Championship golds and wrote a recent autobiography titled ‘This Is Me’ where he revealed that he has migraine.
49. Kristin Chenoweth
An American actress and singer with notable appearances in musical theatre, film and TV.
Chenoweth had Botox to address her severe migraine attacks which occurred weekly.
She is also known to have Meniere’s disease which can cause tinnitus, hearing loss and balance issues according to Health Central.
48. Suzanne Shaw
Shaw is a British actress, singer and TV personality who rose to fame after winning the reality TV contest Popstars. She also won Dancing on Ice and is now an established West End and musical theatre performer as well as a model, actress and TV presenter.
She has openly talked about her migraine condition with the press where she mentioned that she uses Botox for her migraine condition.
47. Susan Olsen
The youngest of the original Brady Bunch on the popular TV series, Olsen has been an advocate for those with migraine since 1998.
Olsen was brave enough to do an interview with Larry King live on TV to discuss migraine and how they have affected her.
46. Virginia Madsen
An American actress and producer who is most well known for her role in Candyman but has featured in many other TV and film roles. She has been nominated for a Golden Globe and is an Academy Award nominee for Best Supporting Actress.
Madsen has publicly credited Botox as helping keep her migraine attacks at bay. She became a spokesperson for Botox in 2007.
45. Tori Spelling
Perhaps most famous for her role in 90210, Spelling is an actress, television personality, socialite and author.
Her autobiography Stori Telling was a New York Times Best Seller and was named the best celebrity autobiography of 2009.
Spelling has been hospitalized several times for her severe migraine attacks, which have been covered in the press.
44. Marcia Cross
Actress Marcia Cross was the steamy red temptress on Desperate Housewives. However off-camera reality was quite different.
Cross admits struggling with migraine saying “Having a migraine and trying to work was impossible for me.” She recalls becoming nauseous and her vision becoming affected.
Cross has been a spokeswoman for a migraine triptan medication.
Source: ‘Interview – Marcia Cross on Life and Migraines’. Health Central. Teri Robert. Accessed 19 October 2017.
43. Scotty Pippen
Pippen is remembered for his time with the Chicago Bulls where he teamed up with Michael Jordon to win six NBA titles. He is considered one of the best small forwards of all time and has been named as one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history.
Pippen talks about his migraine to the Chicago Tribune “I always had that fear” at a game that a migraine would strike. “At the time it was more than the disappointment. I was scared. A couple of days after the game, my head was still sore. It was like it wasn’t going away. I went and got a brain scan. I thought I was dying.”
Despite the occasional heckling from the crowd “Got a headache Scottie?” he was an amazing athlete and one of the greats of the game.
42. Carly Simon
Simon was a singer / songwriter who climbed the charts in the US with a string of hits in the 1970s including “You’re So Vain”. She was also a children’s author.
Simon is cited as having a sore neck during some of her migraine attacks. According to the Belfast Telegraph she learnt to reduce her attacks by cutting out various food triggers.
41. Jennifer Morrison
Morrison is an actress, producer, director and former child model. She has featured in a range of popular TV series and films such as Star Trek (2009) and How I Met Your Mother.
Morrison has opened up to the public about her migraine condition and the impact it has on her career and lifestyle.
40. Paul Scholes
Scholes is a retired English footballer who played his entire professional career for Manchester United. He is the most decorated English footballer of all time with 25 trophies including 11 Premier League titles and 2 Champions League Titles.
In his autobiography ‘My Story’ he admits to having migraine during his professional career.
39. Princess Margaret
Princess Margaret was the sister and only sibling of the current Queen Elizabeth II. She passed away in 2002. Throughout her life she was a controversial figure of the British royal family. Her divorce in 1978 caused negative publicity at the time. In the last two decades of her life her health deteriorated rapidly.
Migraines were just one of many illnesses she endured. She had been a heavy smoker for most of her adult life. Charing Cross Hospital has a Migraine Clinic in her name called the Princess Margaret Migraine Clinic which still treats migraine patients today.
Bachmann is an American politician who was in Congress from 2007 to 2015. She was also a candidate for the 2012 US presidential election. She is the first Republican woman to represent the state in Congress.
In 2011 Bachmann was slammed by several media outlets with damagingly discriminating and stigmatizing articles which attacked her migraine condition. Tucker Carlson, for example, authored an article with the headline: “Stress-related condition ‘incapacitates’ Bachmann; heavy pill use alleged.”
37. Simon Cowell
A British reality TV judge who has been involved with several popular competition shows such as American Idol, The X Factor, America’s Got Talent, Britain’s Got Talent and Pop Idol. He is also a producer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist.
He was ranked in the top 100 of Time magazine’s most influential people in the world.
Cowell is noted for having a migraine attack which caused him to miss five hours worth of auditions from one of his TV shows.
36. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Abdul-Jabbar was a record six-time NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) and a record 19-time NBA All-Star. In 1996 he was named as one the greatest players in NBA history. His coach and several of his teammates have called him the greatest basketball player of all time. At the time of his retirement he was the NBA’s all-time top points scorer.
Abdul-Jabbar describes migraine in an interview “It’s like when you’re seasick and you get that feeling in your stomach… with a migraine that feeling is in your head.”
35. Janet Jackson
Jackson, the sister of Michael Jackson, is a well-known American singer and actress who was at times controversial.
In 2006, Jackson was forced to cancel a number of concerts due to vestibular migraine. This is a type of migraine where an individual can experience extreme vertigo, dizziness and loss of balance.
If you experience vertigo or loss of balance during your attacks, read more about vestibular migraine here >>
GET A LIST OF NATURAL ALTERNATIVES PROVEN TO HELP MIGRAINE. FREE FOR A LIMITED TIME.
34. Gwen Stefani
Stefani is a singer, songwriter, fashion designer, actress and TV personality who has had a number of successful singles such as Don’t Speak, Hollaback Girl and The Sweet Escape.
She’s won 3 Grammy Awards and several other accolades celebrating her achievements. Stefani has sold over 30 million albums worldwide.
Stefani has reportedly had acupuncture on a regular basis to help prevent migraine attacks during her pregnancy.
33. Percy Harvin
An American football wide receiver who won several BCS National Championships. He was named the Associated Press Rookie of the Year in 2009 and won the Super Bowl in 2013.
Harvin has had migraine since he was 10 years old. He collapsed on the field during a practice session in 2010 and later went to hospital that same day for testing. He was sidelined for several games before returning to the field after tests and a treatment plan was put in place.
32. Georges Seurat
This French post-Impressionist painter is believed to have migraine.
One of his most famous works is shown here: A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.
31. Lewis Carroll
The famous author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is well known for his abilities at word play, logic, and fantasy. He recorded the experience of his first migraine with aura attack in his personal diary.
Many people draw parallels with Alice’s experience where the size of things around her appear to change which has often been referred to as the ‘Alice in Wonderland Syndrome’. When the brain affects the way objects are perceived it is also known as micropsia and macropsia.
30. Elle Macpherson
Macpherson is an Australian model, businesswoman, TV host and actress.
Macpherson has appeared in a number of films and TV shows as well as producing and hosting reality series ‘Next Top Model’ for Britain and Ireland. She also has a range of clothing and skin care businesses.
According to Women’s Health Magazine UK, Macpherson recently came out about her own experience with migraine.
29. Lisa Kudrow
Kudrow gained the world’s attention in her ten season run as Phoebe in the TV series Friends for which she received many accolades. She has also produced and written several TV shows and featured in a number of films.
Kudrow’s father Dr Lee Kudrow suffered from cluster headache. Her dad was her migraine specialist. During her younger years her migraine condition remained problematic. Her attacks have reportedly entered into remission in recent years
Source: “Friend in Need.” People Magazine. Vol 46. No. 14 September 30, 1996.
28. Terrell Davis
The famous Denver Broncos running back was inducted into the NFL Football Hall of Fame in 2017. He was the Bronco’s all-time leading rusher with 7,607 yards.
Davis has had migraine since the age of seven. He normally took a preventative treatment before each match but during the SuperBowl XXXII he forgot. In the first quarter he was hit in the head by the knee of another player which triggered an attack. He left the field to get treatment (Migranal Nasal Spray) and returned to the game in the second half. He ended up MVP of the game after scoring three touchdowns to win the game.
Source: Migraine Again Podcast Interview.
27. Loretta Lynn
A famous country music singer / songwriter whose career spanned nearly 60 years. Lynn was a wife and mother of four children by the age of 18.
She writes about her migraine attacks while on stage in her book Coal Miner’s Daughter.
26. Dwyane Wade
Wade is a professional basketball player who has led his team and the United States Olympic team to victory. He has been named in the US All-Star team for 12 seasons and won back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013.
Wade’s migraine condition has been publicised. He knows to limit exposure to bright lights and how to utilize neck massages and icing to help prevent or relieve attacks.
25. Miguel de Cervantes
Cervantes was a Spanish writer who is regarded as the greatest writer in the Spanish language and one of the world’s pre-eminent novelists. He is famous for what is considered to be the first modern novel.
His book Don Quixote is regarded as among the best works of fiction ever written. In it, his character complains of migraine. Cervantes himself is also believed to have had migraine.
24. Robert E Lee
The Confederate States Army General from 1862 until his surrender in 1865.
Interestingly his surrender was to Ulysses S Grant in the American Civil War, who also features in this list below.
23. James Cromwell
An actor who has performed in famous films including Star Trek: First Contact, LA Confidential, The Green Mile, Space Cowboys and many others. He won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in Babe (1995) and an Emmy for his role in American Horror Story: Asylum.
Cromwell is reported to experience migraine according to Migraine.org.
22. Cindy McCain
McCain is well-known as the wife of the 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain. She is also a businesswoman, philanthropist and humanitarian in her own right.
She has spoken out about migraine to the media and to the International Headache Congress about raising awareness for patients. McCain describes the pain of a migraine as “indescribable” to USA’s Today.
21. Fredrich Nietzche
A German philosopher, cultural critic, poet and scholar whose work has had a profound impact on Western philosophy and modern intellectual history.
Nietzche was plagued by various disruptive illnesses since childhood including migraine.
20. Sharon Stone
Stone is an actress, voice actress and film producer who became an international icon and sex symbol after her role in Basic Instinct. She later won a Golden Globe for her role in Casino and has been involved in a number of other popular film titles.
Stone was famously hospitalized with a migraine during the Milan fashion week in 2012.
19. Hugh Jackman
Jackman is an actor, singer, philanthropist and producer from Australia. He is well known for his role as Wolverine in the X-men franchise. He has won a Tony Award, an Emmy Award and hosted the Academy Awards in 2009.
Jackman told Britain’s FHM magazine he missed the opportunity to meet former British prime minister Tony Blair because he was vomiting from a migraine attack.
Interestingly Jackman is an avid practitioner of meditation which he says brings calm and happiness in what is otherwise a “pretty chaotic life”.
18. Gwyneth Paltrow
Paltrow is an actress, singer, businesswoman and food writer. She rose to fame after Shakespeare in Love, for which she won the Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Actress. She is the owner of lifestyle company ‘Goop’ and the author of two cookbooks.
Paltrow received wide-spread criticism following the release of her second cookbook, which features sugar-free, gluten-free and dairy-free recipes. These were developed from an elimination diet she used to manage her migraine condition.
17. Ben Affleck
Affleck is an actor, screenwriter and director, who first rose to fame following his movie debut in Good Will Hunting. While directing the film Gone, Baby Gone in 2006, Affleck had a migraine attack so severe it sent him to the hospital.
Affleck later said “I just kept on going and going and hardly slept”.
16. Whoopi Goldberg
Goldberg is an award-winning actress who has been nominated 13 times for an Emmy. She is one of the few entertainers that has managed to win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and a Tony Award. She was the second African-American woman in history to win the Oscar. She is most famous for her work in the films Ghost, Sister Act and as host of the talk show The View.
Goldberg has been diagnosed with dyslexia in addition to migraine.
Goldberg was also the executive producer of Strong Medicine, a series on Lifetime Television which included a storyline about an artist with migraine.
15. Ulysses S. Grant
The 18th President of the United States and the commanding general by the end of the American Civil War. Before his presidency he worked closely with Abraham Lincoln to lead the Union Army to victory.
Despite criticism for his presidency, modern scholars regard him as someone who was tasked with a difficult job who performed with some merit and took strong action on civil rights for African-Americans.
In his memoirs, Grant refers to his “sick headache” which has later been recognized as migraine.
14. Virginia Woolf
An English writer whose works have been translated into over 50 languages.
She is considered to be one of the foremost modernists of the twentieth century and became a central subject of the feminist movement in the 1970s.
Woolf had poor health since childhood and would often go into migraine and depressive episodes. After several attempts she committed suicide at the age of 59.
13. Serena Williams
Williams is the world’s number one female tennis player and one of the greatest of all time. Serena learnt her migraine attacks were related to her menstrual cycle and she has been quoted saying “I’d never heard of [menstrual migraine] before.. All this time I thought it was a regular migraine.”
Hormonal migraine is often more severe and refractory to typical migraine treatments but can be managed as demonstrated by this incredible athlete. For more about hormonal migraine read ‘How to Manage Menstrual Migraine’ >>
12. Elizabeth Taylor
Once celebrated as the ‘most beautiful woman in the world’, Dame Elizabeth Taylor was a British-American actress, businesswoman, humanitarian and migraine patient.
She started her career as a child actress and her success continued throughout her adult life as did her migraine condition. In 1999 the American Film Institute named her the 7th greatest female screen legend.
11. Kanye West
West is an outspoken American rapper, singer-songwriter, record producer, fashion designer and businessman. He has been a source of controversy and attention with his views, behavior and widely publicised marriage to Kim Kardashian.
He is one of the best selling artists of all time with more than 32 million albums and 100 million digital downloads. He has won a record 21 Grammy Awards and has been named by Forbes as one of the top 100 most influential people in the world in 2005 and 2015.
During a visit to Australia, West was rushed to hospital with a severe migraine attack and had an emergency MRI. When the all-clear was given he was back on stage later that night… no doubt after some acute treatment from the emergency department.
10. Charles Darwin
Darwin lived from 1809-1882. He is famous for his theory of evolution, which established that all species are descended from common ancestors and introduced the concept of natural selection.
It has been documented during his adult life that Darwin suffered from a number of illnesses, including migraine, which led to his withdrawal from society and an apparent increase in productivity.
9. Anne Frank
Annelies Marie “Anne” Frank is one of the most famous Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
She became well known after her death from the publication of The Diary of a Young Girl. This documents her life in hiding from the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II.
Headache specialists have since identified that Frank’s “headaches” which she describes in her diary, meet the criteria for migraine.
8. Vincent Van Gogh
A Dutch post-Impressionist painter who lived from 1853-1890. In just over a decade Van Gogh created over 2000 artworks, many of them in the final 2 years of his life.
Van Gogh committed suicide at age 37 after years of mental illness, poverty, and migraine.
He remains one of the most famous and influential figures in the history of Western art.
7. Claude Monet
Monet is one of the best-known and beloved artists of all time.
He founded the French impressionist painting movement and was dedicated to expressions of nature. The painting Water Lilies and the Japanese bridge was painted from 1897-99.
Many people believe some of his paintings reflect some of the visual distortions he experienced from his migraine attacks.
6. Julius Caesar
A politician who played a central role in the rise of the Roman Empire. Caesar lived from 100 BC to 44 BC. Modern scholars and headache specialists believe he likely suffered migraine based on the remarks of Plutarch in his biography.
5. Sigmund Freud
The founder of psychoanalysis suffered from recurrent episodes of severe headache which were migraine.
Freud went into medicine and practiced neurology before completing the work he became famous for with provocative theories about the psychology of dream interpretation and human sexuality.
4. John F Kennedy
JFK, as he is otherwise known, was the 35th President of the United States. Kennedy was president at the height of the Cold War where much of his work focused on managing relations with the Soviet Union.
On more than one occasion Kennedy is noted for commenting about his headaches. His inner circle source(s) also believed he had migraine according to Migraine Again.
Despite his migraine attacks, Napoleon Bonaparte dominated global affairs for more than a decade whilst leading France in the Napoleonic Wars and conquering much of continental Europe before its collapse in 1815.
2. Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence and one of the founding fathers of the United States. Between 1801-1809 he was also the third President of the United States.
His migraine condition has been recounted in several historical sources. Jefferson was also thought to have ‘status migraine’ where his attacks lasted for weeks at a time.
1. Elvis Presley
Presley is considered to be one the most important cultural icons of the 20th century. He is often referred to as the King of Rock and Roll.
He is one of the most celebrated and influential musicians of all time. He made an estimated 600 million sales worldwide, won 3 Grammys and has been inducted into multiple music halls of fame.
His death from a heart attack came after many years of prescription drug abuse. Dr. Michael John Coleman, Executive Director of MAGNUM, interviewed Presley’s physician where they revealed that Presley suffered from severe and recurring migraine attacks.
Presley is the one of the most famous, influential and perhaps misunderstood people with migraine on this list.
It is clear that migraine does not take exception to Royalty, Presidents, Philosophers, Emperors, Artists, Authors, Athletes, Musicians, Actors or Actresses. It can affect anyone.
Some of the most important contributors to our society are listed above. It’s important the public see the truth behind these individuals which is often left out of history books.
This list also demonstrates that even with a debilitating disease like migraine, it is possible to leave your mark on the world.
Is there anyone missing from this list? Do you think the rankings are reasonable? Let me know in the comments below.
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It makes me feel not so alone in my struggle to live a full and meaningful life despite dealing with chronic migraines. I think only someone with migraines can fully understand that struggle.
Glad you enjoyed it Cindy
Joan Didion is missing from this list.
Thanks for the tip Ralee, will check her out.
The writer Joan Didion suffered from fairly severe migraine since childhood, writing that without medication she would have functioned "maybe one day in four". She wrote a fantastic and relatable essay on the topic, "In Bed", which is collected in her essay volume The White Album.
Excellent suggestion thank you Dana
If a famous person’s name is misspelled on this list, how accurately could this list be?
It means the list was written by a human and edited by another human. Who are you referring to btw Laura?
That name is "Kanye West."
Ah thank you. Will update that.
An interesting place to look for comorbidities and cross reference might be Dr. Kay Redfield Jameson’s book "Touched with Fire." In the back is a list of famous people with bipolar disease, a comorbiditt. You might even catch her for an interview. She is a sufferer of bipolar (which I think may be often misdiagnosed) and perhaps you might interview her. The last I knew, she was at Hopkins. It’s a great read for anyone. "An Unquiet Mind" is her book about death by self harm. (I dislike the term "suicide" and I never use "committed" with it. Folks are victims, not criminals.) She’s an amazing woman and resource. Fairly famous in her own right.
Thank you for the suggestion Nicci. I agree with regarding victims of sucicide.
The important thing to remember is that we are all just people at the end of the day just trying to make a living, make some kind of mark on the world, be kind to one another, love our families, our friends. Each day is a new start and a step toward being kinder to ourselves, our bodies, and realizing that we have support and helpers out there to hold our hands through peaks and mountains of this disease.
Beautifully said Ashley. I feel like that comment should be printed and framed.
The author seems to be more interested in the lives of entertainers than statesmen as the former types of migrainuers received at least 3 paragraphs in their descriptions while the later rarely received even 2. Entertaining may now appear to be the more strenuous occupation, but could it be just that their lives are reported on more.
I know of migrainuer mothers who no one will ever see their name in print that are successfully raising their children to be independent, hard-working, thoughtful, caring people. It doesn’t take "fame" to leave your mark on the world.
I agree with you Joy. It doesn’t take fame to leave your mark on the world.
When writing I felt I had less justification required for statesmen than I did the entertainers. I think you’re reading a little too much into the length of the descriptions. If you’d like to provide some original content to better reflect those statesmen please do submit them in.
Pathetic article that typifies today’s obsession with fame.
Dianne, did you read the first few paragraphs or skip to the list like someone obsessed with fame?
If you read the introductory paragraphs or other comments you’d notice that most people found it comforting or helpful to know that other people like this struggled with migraine too.
I’ve seen Michelangelo’s name on these lists before as well.
Not sure I’ve seen any evidence for him?
I was diagnosed with Migraine age 10 yrs . I am now 68yrs old . Although not life threatening Migraine has had a big effect on the way I live my life . Certainly at work sometimes it would be a case of should I not go into work today ? Or will my Migraine by some miracle get better as the day goes on ! I knew the answer , it never did get better . It impacted on All aspects of my life and still does . So it’s really good to see I am in very good company and Not alone . Elvis Presley at number 1 that’s great news for me ! Especially as I was Born on the same date as Elvis —
I’m glad you enjoyed the article Graham.
I give this article a mixed review…interesting but not helpful…no more helpful than a simple list of celebrity names would have been. What’s really important is HOW they cope with migraine while maintaining a celebrity career/lifestyle. Perhaps they have a staff of people to alleviate them of the burdens of daily life like shopping and cooking, running errands, and so on. What is their secret for success? THAT would be useful!
I suspect you’re right. They would also have access to the best doctors, resources and treatments in many cases.
For elite athletes they’d be extremely disciplined and so much more likely to get better from behavioral and lifestyle recommendations.
In other cases, sometimes they didn’t get better and struggled with it for a significant part of their life.
Abraham Lincoln was noted by either History Channel, Nat Geo or Discovery to have suffered horrific migraines incapacitating him for long extended days at a time. Given his health diagnosis, migraine episodes would coincide
Great addition Julie! I’ll make sure this gets added soon!
( Medical journal reference)
Migraine and the Presidency: Clinical Lessons from History?
Plausible source argument detailing how Abraham Lincoln may have suffered from chronic migraine.
Excellent, thank you Julie!
Mary Todd Lincoln also had migraines throughout her adult life.
Do you have a source Sue? Thank you.
Paula and Carl thank you.
I don’t think It matters whether names are misspelt or people are missing or whether we hear in-depth details of how the people on the list cope/coped. It is just interesting and I find it encouraging to see people who have made something of their lives despite living with migraine. I am not generally interested in celebrities but I am interested in anything that might make me feel better about having suffered chronic migraine for 40 years. Some of the comments are so negative and I think some perspective would be good…if you are not interested in the topic, don’t read it. Don’t pan two people who do an enormous amount to de-stigmatise migraine and deliver great insights via a wide range of articles, interviews, forums, etc.
Thank you for your support Trish.
I know people are going through some rough times right now and sometimes the anger and frustration is missplaced. So I don’t take it personally.
A very interesting selection of migraine patients for this article. It serves as a reminder that migraine headaches make no exceptions for fame, social distinction, or political agenda.
Thank you Thomas!
I have mixed feelings. On one hand, I’m as curious as most humans, lol. And, every once in awhile I discover something helpful from a famous person – like Joan Didion’s description of recurrent migraine or Emily Dickinson’s vivid poetry (not 100% certain if migraine or epilepsy was behind it). But mostly, I feel a sense of disconnect. I’m not paid to have migraine, unlike many modern celebrity spokespersons. And though I’m (mostly) glad about the message here – the possibility of rocking the world despite migraine – it gets kind of difficult to defend against the general public citing high-achievers as role models for living-with-disease and as "proof" that migraine (or any other non-fatal but chronically painful condition) is never "that" debilitating.
Managing migraine well isn’t necessarily a pre-requisite of fame or influence. Some people on this list did not manage migraine well. Several people who took their own life (Van Gogh, Virigna Woolf) and there was a least one premature death (Elvis) in which migraine may have played a role.
What isn’t shown so much here is the sacrifice that many of them had to endure to accomplish what they wanted. Some coped well but many did not, especially since earlier treatments were a lot less effective than it treatments today.
I think just about everyone on the list would say that migraine is or can be extremely debilitating.
Thanks, Carl. I’m grateful for the time you take to engage with fellow migraine folks. Interesting point about how well folks on the list may or may not have managed well. I agree – sometimes the sacrifice (or the supports) that make things possible isn’t always known/visible.
The perception of migraine is often skewed though by the image/experiences of those in the spotlight. To some extent that leaves those most severely affected (in terms of quality of life) out of awareness. (And creates more hurdles for them). You’re graciously inclusive, understanding the range of impact possible, but some are not. Thanks for listening – and sharing – it means a lot. Wellness wishes!
My pleasure Cerys. Thank you for your feedback.
Thank you for putting together this list. It is really interesting and inspiring and helps us to feel less alone.
I also want to say, I really appreciate the detail, effort, and time you put into the articles on your blog. That’s really kind of you. May I ask what motivates you?
Thank you for your kind comment Aparna.
What got me started was the suffering & struggle I experienced firsthand from chronic migraine, depression, and anxiety. It was other resources and people which pulled me through, so this a way of ‘paying it forward’. It’s also easy to find inspiration when you recieve lovely comments such as yours, thank you Aparna 🙂
It is so difficult to explain to people that migraine is not just a headache. It is so debilitating. I stopped me from driving as I took twenty lessons and started to have more frequent migraines. In my youth I was really frightened of them. Now at the age of 70 I still have them but the bright lights only last for 20 minutes and I don’t have the numbness down the side of my face and in my hands. I commend those celebrities for actually getting to be so successful – part of the trouble is that one who has migraine is usually a perfectionist and sets high standards for themselves.
I made an attempt in this letter to others without migraine to explain what it is like here https://migrainepal.com/letter-to-people-without-migraine/
Many people in this list are famous but suffered deeply or privately from to their condition.
I can certainly understand why some of these famous people with migraine killed themselves or succumbed to drug use, when they lived in a time without many treatments for migraine. I still feel I have not yet found they right preventive treatment (even though I receive Botox shots at Stanford) and it’s only my family that keeps me going when I have day after day of severe migraine.
Having a support network around you is so important Karen. There is plenty of good out there in the world but it’s almost impossible to see through the fog of pain, depression and frustration that chronic migraine inflicts. Hang in there. The future is bright.
It is thought that Friedrich Nietzsche may have had CADASIL. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18575181/ Many others who suffer from migraines may have CADASIL, but it is not diagnosed as it is considered rare. However, it is not as rare as thought. If you suffer from migraines ask your doctor about CADASIL.
Very interesting and thank you for the study reference. CADASIL seems more likely to appear in those with migraine with aura.
HI I am pron to migraines I just would like to thank you for writing this and for posting all those photos and wonderful pieces of art. I am an artist and I love reading about other people and learning about them. If you have any thing else that is interesting I am sure people would love to read it I know I would.
Thank you for sharing Sherri, I will make sure I continue to share the artistic expressions of others.
Thank you! For 30+ years I have suffered from extreme migraines & even had a migraine stroke. I have tried almost everything which has broke me physically, mentally & financially. My migraines have taken over my life. I lost a career I loved & continue to fight for disability to get the medical treatment & medications I need. It’s comforting to know I’m not alone & there are successful migraine sufferers out there. I keep praying & hoping for my miracle. Thank you again for your article.
Hi Jodee, I’m glad you found it helpful and that you’re still fighting for the support and treatment you deserve. Take care and best wishes.
Michele Bachmann is a blight on society. I suffer from migraines myself but I’m not the least bit sorry that she does. May she have one so bad she goes to bed and has to retire from Congress. Honestly, I understand you are probably not American, but including her is like including the founding member of the Nazi party. Her political movements are the reason why America is in the mess it is now, with a wannabe dictator at helm.
I wouldn’t wish migraine on my worst enemy.
any posts on ice pick headaches
No not yet sorry Winifred.
This is good for migraine sufferers to see and know there is hope!
I imagine many on this list only succeeded when they found effective strategies for dealing with migraine, or they were infrequent enough for them to succeed in between.
Mine started at age 7 and kicked into overdrive at age 30. Roughly 200/yr for 20+ years.
Thus coming Memorial Day will mark 2 years completely migraine free!
WOW! What a difference!
I’m 58 and I’m done losing!
That’s fantastic news George! Congratulations!
Hi, can you tell me the souce that identifies Anne Frank as a migraine sufferer? There is hardly any mentioning of headaches or any other migraine symptoms in het diary.
Here is the source: Almeida, RF de, and P. A. Kowacs. “Anne Frank’s headache.” Cephalalgia 27.11 (2007): 1215-1218.