'I was told I'd be fired because of migraines'

From BBC - September 4, 2017

Many employers do not understand the terrible effects of migraines and could do more to support staff with the condition, three UK charities say.

With one in seven people affected, their research suggests more help and awareness from bosses is needed.

Fiona McKenzie, 33, was told by one of her former employers she would be fired if her absences due to migraines did not improve.

She says migraine pain is "like someone hitting my brain with an ice pick".

In a survey of more than 2,000 UK adults by the Migraine Trust, Migraine Action and the National Migraine Centre, 64% said they thought employers were not properly informed about the nature of migraines or how they affected employees.

One in five believed health professionals were not fully aware of the impact of migraine on their patients either.

Nine million people in the UK are thought to have them, with women more likely to be affected than men.

The most common migraine symptoms are:

Fiona, who lives in London, says she has some of her worst migraines at work.

At their worst, they affect her vision, cause a stabbing pain in her head and leave her unable to talk. She also becomes sensitive to loud noises, light and smells.

Although she has had some very understanding managers, she says she has also experienced a complete lack of support.

"[Some time] ago, I had 16 headache days in one month, and it had a real impact on my work, although I tried hard not to take sick days."

But her employer simply told her to pull her socks up and be more resilient.

Fiona says: "I found it very hard, it pushed the onus on to me, but it was not something in my control.

'Excuse for a sickie'


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