Inspiration: Famous Migraineurs
If you suffer from migraine, take solace in the fact that you are not alone. In fact, you are in rather good company! Many famous individuals throughout time have had migraine headaches, and it did not dampen their ability to make significant contributions to history.
Artists and Writers
Vincent Van Gogh (1853–1890) was best known for his signature Dutch impressionist style, but he was also a migraineur. So was Claude Monet (1840–1926), a French impressionist best known for works such as
Virginia Woolf (1882–1941) was an English novelist who is generally considered to be one of the founders of modern literature. She produced such titles as Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse while suffering from frequent migraines. Her erratic behavior was, at the time, attributed to depression and nervous breakdowns, but scholars today think migraine disease was a more likely culprit.
Some neurologists and medical historians also believe that the Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll (1832–1898), experienced migraine with aura. Carroll does describe chronic vascular head pain in his personal letters, and researchers believe his hallucinogenic descriptions in Alice in Wonderland are an indication that he had firsthand knowledge of aura.
Many film and television stars also suffer from migraine; a short list includes Elizabeth Taylor, James Cromwell, Marcia Cross, and Whoopi Goldberg. Despite living very public lives, many actors, actresses, singers, and other performers have found techniques for managing their migraines.
Politicians and Athletes
Throughout time, many famous politicians have also suffered from migraines. Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), the author of the Declaration of Independence and primary force behind the Louisiana Purchase, was thought to have experienced migraines throughout his life. Leaders from Julius Caesar (100
Those who use their bodies as skillfully as their minds are not exempt from the pain of migraine either.
Professional athletes who live with migraine disease include NFL players Zach Thomas and Terrell Davis. Pro-Bowler Davis started the Terrell Davis Migraine Foundation in 1998 to raise awareness of the condition. The NBA has also been home to several migraineurs, including Scottie Pippen, Steve Francis, and Jason Kidd. And baseball pros Johnny Damon, Angel Berroa, Joe Girardi, and Jonathan Papelbon deal with migraines on the diamond and in the outfield. Professional athletes who are also migraineurs excel in just about every other playing field, including golf (Fred Couples and Kathryn Marshall), track (Gail Devers), and hockey (Pat LaFontaine and Henrik Lundqvist).
Migraine does not discriminate. It affects individuals from all walks of life, professions, and cultures. What sets migraineurs apart is not who they are or what they do, but how they take control of their lives and their disease.