Migraines are not created equal. Everyone has a different experience with them; all traumatic, all painful, but very different. A severe headache is only one aspect of the condition. Some suffer nausea, sensitivity to light, indigestion and fatigue. Others have slurred speech, partial paralysis, vision disturbances and even temporary blindness. Migraines are debilitating. To those who have never suffered from them, they cannot fully appreciate how one can take their target prisoner and make their life a living hell. Migraines are triggered by many things. Sometimes it’s food, smells, stress, anxiety, or emotional trauma. Sometimes it’s completely unpredictable and strikes at the worst times.
I’ve suffered migraines for well over a decade. During a migraine attack I get a pain so severe that it feels like someone stabbed me in the head. My migraines come with a flare up of IBS, a feeling of disorientation and often lack of concentration and sometimes coordination. Painkillers dull the experience but no longer make it go away. After years of trying to pinpoint my triggers I recently discovered that it’s anxiety. As soon as I went on anxiety medication for another condition (undiagnosed severe physical anxiety) my migraines have for the most part gone away. The medication seems to calm the chaos in my brain that triggers these episodes. But I’m just one case. Every migraine sufferer has a different story to tell. And one film gives them a platform to share their pain.
Written and directed by Susanna Styron and produced by Jacki Ochs, Out of My Head helps migraine sufferers feel validation for their condition and helps legitimize their experience to those who cannot fully comprehend the pain their loved ones are going through.
Styron’s daughter Emma suffers from migraines that cause temporary blindness. She was inspired to make this documentary not only to tell the her daughter’s story but also to shed some light on this mysterious and often misunderstood condition. The film includes extensive interviews with a variety of subjects including real migraine sufferers, doctors, professors, sociologists and headache specialists. Interwoven throughout the documentary are animated sequences that follow Emma on her migraine journey.
Every aspect of the migraine is explored from the scientific, to the sociological to the personal. Migraines disproportionately affect women. 75% of migraine sufferers are female. It can strike at a young age with a different presentation of symptoms. It can be hereditary. And by and large, it is highly misunderstood.
Out of My Head cracks open the mystery behind migraines and gives those with this condition a voice. The biggest takeaway from this film is that migraines need to be taken seriously.
Watch it. Share it. Out of My Head is an important documentary.
Out of My Head will be available on DVD and video on demand through Kino Lorber on June 9th.