Migraines Are Not Just 'A Woman Thing'

Scandal star Bellamy Young talks about her lifelong struggle: 'Migraines are the one thing you can't negotiate with. You can't work through it. It steals your life.'

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Anyone who's ever experienced a migraine knows exactly how debilitating they can be. That's definitely true of actress Bellamy Young (known on Scandal as the ever-audacious Mellie Grant), who has had migraines since she was a teenager.

"When I started having migraines, people would stigmatize it as 'a woman thing' or belittle it and think you just have a headache and should simply take an aspirin," Young says. "I tried a number of remedies — from medical and homeopathic to old wives' tales — to prevent mine from coming on. I never had any success."

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Although she knew of a few triggers that usually sent her into a full-on migraine tailspin — like stress, dehydration, and sometimes red wine (which isn't any fun for someone who works alongside Olivia Pope) — she spent a lot of time worrying about when the next one might strike.

"I lost two days of the last show I had on Broadway to migraines, I lost a day of Scrubs… it's not like I just needed to step away and nap in my trailer for an hour. I was out for the rest of the day," she says. "Migraines are the one thing you can't negotiate with. You can't work through it. It steals your life."

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But not anymore: Young stole her life back.

"I always have to disclose it anywhere I work. Until now, it wasn't something I could control — it was a liability for production," she says. "After talking to my doctor and finding a medication that works for me, I got my life back. It's saved me from missing days at work, and it's saved me from incessant worry of being stricken with migraines."

Young encourages people who are struggling with migraines to talk with their doctors.

"When you're a person who has migraines, it's not just when you have a migraine that your life is impacted. It's all the time. You're worried that you're going to get one because your triggers are so varied, and they're sometimes things you can't control," she says. "I have the best job of my life. I get some of those scenes sometimes and I think I can't believe how lucky I am that I have the material I do. Now to not live with the worry that I might not be able to do my best, or I might lose the chance to do my job, is the most liberating thing in my life."

Young is working with Relief Within Reach to raise awareness about migraine symptoms and treatment options.

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