Imagine this: A bright flash of light hits you straight in the eyes, and the next thing you know you're experiencing blurry vision, nausea, and excruciating pain. Sounds pretty awful, right? Thanks to migraines, that's been Jennifer Morrison's experience for years.
The actress and producer — who you've probably seen many, many times if you've ever binge-watched House or Once Upon a Time — wasn't sure what was happening to her when she first started experiencing migraine symptoms. Now, she's speaking out to make sure others are able to deal with the pain faster and more efficiently than she did.
"The first time I realized I needed to figure out what I was experiencing was about three years ago. I was having situations where I would be driving, and if a bright flash of light would hit my eyes, my vision would get blurry. That would start the chain reaction of symptoms," Morrison says. "Obviously it's not a pleasant experience to not be able to see all of a sudden while you're driving."
From there, migraines regularly interrupted her life — especially while she was filming on set.
"Because of the blurred vision, I couldn't see my script and focus on what was in front of me. That's very frustrating," Morrison says. "I had to figure out how to continue functioning without being able to see clearly."
Then came the red carpets. Being in the spotlight — literally — was a trigger that left Morrison wondering if she would even be able to make it through the rest of those special nights.
Get into the specific details... Don't feel like that's bothering your doctor — that's what they're there for.
"There were definitely times when I had to step aside on a red carpet and recollect myself, knowing there may be a really long journey ahead of me after those bright, flashing lights," she says.
Unfortunately, Morrison couldn't always put things on hold when she had a migraine.
"Any time you have a migraine, you don't want to be functioning. You want to step away and be in a dark room. You don't want to have to push through," Morrison says. "In my industry, that really isn't possible. I had to find a way to push through no matter what, and I came to terms with that."
Morrison took the time to go to her doctor and figure out exactly what was going on and how to prevent it from happening in the future, and she recommends anyone who thinks they might have migraines to do the same.
"Discuss it with your doctor and get into the specific details. Everyone's migraines are so different, so it's important that you don't skip things or leave something out. Don't feel like that's bothering your doctor — that's what they're there for," Morrison says. " Then they can properly diagnose what's going on and figure out the best way to move forward."
And as for worrying about what people will think when you have to cancel plans at the last-minute due to the pain, don't. That's something they'll definitely understand, she says.
"36 million Americans suffer from migraines, and I think it's becoming something people are more aware of," Morrison says. "Now if someone says they can't make it out tonight because they have a migraine, it's being understood as more of a neurological condition instead of an excuse."
To learn more about migraines, check out MoreToMigraine.com, a site that Jennifer Morrison is partnering with to raise awareness that migraines are more than just bad headaches and help give people the necessary tools to talk to their doctors about the condition.