This Day: a film for migraine awareness

When the American Migraine Foundation and American Headache Society launched their “Migraine Moment” film contest, I thought, hey I’m artsy and I’ve got a bucketload to say about living with migraine…I should make a video. I wanted to convey the isolation and endless optimism that migraine demands, so I wrote a song and dreamed up a simple day-in-the-life script. But alas, I had no skills with making videos. Not a one.

Luckily, when I contacted my long time friend and professional cinematographer, Ian Macmillan, he jumped aboard with enthusiasm, introduced me to the world of film, and with expert knowledge, efficiency, and artistry, made beautiful shots happen.

Along with editor Shawn Beckwith, here’s what we made.

[pssst…AND the video won the contest. I’m currently to San Diego to present it at the American Headache Society’s 58th Annual Scientific Meeting and soak up some rays! I’ll post my speech here soon. Catch ya later.]

Thanks for watching.


  1. · · Reply

    Anna! I love love love your video. Speaks so much to me Thankyou Taryn

    Sent from my iPhone


    1. I’m so glad 🙂

  2. Yay You!!! This is so awesome. Congrats, and bonne travels!

    1. Hi Beth! Thanks buddy!!

  3. Susan Brown · · Reply

    Makes me cry, every time.

    1. Making mother cry since 1983 ❤

  4. Agree with all of the above!!!!! Outstanding! One of the best I’ve seen to bring awareness of living with migraine! Congratulations!

    1. Thanks so much Sharron!

  5. Holly Hall · · Reply


    Excellently done! Do you have the lyrics of the song printed?

    When I opened up the link to see the film, I was struck by the painting across the top. I did a little “painting” to show my neurologist something representing my 24/7 aura with bright lights, flashing and flying lights and shapes.

    I am attaching it here so that you can see the similarities to yours. (Since I was emailing it, I put yellow to represent the white, bright lights.)

    Holly Hall

    1. Hi Holly! I can’t see the art, but maybe I will when not on my mobile. Art can be such a good way to process all the crap migraine throws at us… 🙂

    2. Oh, and I’ll try to get around to printing the lyrics soon!

  6. NONNIE Willing · · Reply

    Sorry but I didn’t see a lot of disability and unfunctionality in your video. I cannot get out of bed without meds and an ice hat. I cannot exercise as its a trigger. I wear TheraSpecs ALWAYS. I cannot work as I’m disabled from migraine. What I see is a functional woman and the only sign of migraine is when you close the curtain, put an eye pillow on and put your head down on the desk. I don’t believe it does justice for the breadth and depth migraine is infused in our lives.

    1. Hi Nonnie! I thought I’d share that the Migraine Moment Short Film Competition asked participants to share their own story & I saw that in Anna’s video thru both her lyrics & film that creatively tells a story with so many details of a day in her life.

      I am sorry to hear your Migraine disease is so severe that you are disabled by it; my heart goes out to you. Have you considered sharing your own video about your Migraine experience? It sounds like you have the passion to make a great Migraine awareness video about your life! I made one for the contest & it was very cathartic! Take care.

    2. Hi Nonnie. The video aims to depict my experience. I am very fortunate to have made a great deal of progress from daily chronic migraine to episodic that allows me to work part time and enjoy some low pain days. I hope more awareness videos will continue to be made, and that you will be able to see your own experience reflected in them.

      1. Kathryn Franklin · · Reply

        Your video also speaks to the point that migraine is often a non-visible disease. You often can’t tell that someone is greatly suffering from migraine pain by just looking at them. I could tell that during moments in your film, you were representing pain non-verbally. Well done!

  7. Having a rough pain evening and just watched your video. You nailed it so perfect. Now I’m in tears. Beautifully accurate in every way. Thank you for sharing your gift. It speaks for you and for all of us. You deserve to celebrate your win and so much more. Can’t wait to see you in a few days!

    1. Hi Tammy. Mutual admiration club ❤ Thank uou.

  8. Hello Anna! Nice to meet you and congratulations on winning the AMF contest! I saw it on Twitter! I hope you are able to soak in every minute you are there and the recognition of such a lovely and deserving video. The lyrics are gorgeous and touch my heart. “Make the most of uncertainty.” “What a beautiful message to all Migraineurs. “Maybe one of these days I won’t have to pretend”-an honest expression that so many people with migraine can identify with.The photography is incredible. You knocked it out of the park and I can see why you won the contest! Thank you for being so vulnerable for sharing your day-in-the-life story. I got the message of isolation and endless optimism that Migraine demands in your video that you were trying to convey. Congrats again! I hope our paths cross again sometime. Kelly

    1. Thanks so much Kelly!!!

  9. What a beautiful video! Congratulations, Anna! xx

  10. I am SOO Glad a Blogger that I follow won! I had submitted one as well. Mine was NOT selected obviously, but did make the rounds in the community that I was hoping to make awareness for as a migraine sufferer, my son has a migraine variant that is significantly under studied by the medical community. As we know from our own migraine struggles, they are hard to treat.. so imagine a variant of.. Thank you for bringing awareness to it! I look forward to the post of your speech!

    1. Thank you adventurant! I’m still recovering from the trip, but I hope to have the speech and lyrics up in the coming weeks. I’m sorry to hear about your son. It’s atrocious how little funding migraine research receives. I hope we will see that change a great deal in the coming decades.

    2. Is there somewhere I can view your film?

      1. Mine is really rudimentary. Was more for information on my son’s condition. That it is a variant of a migraine. Mine is on my blog as wwll

      2. It’s the one titled, “What has been consuming my time?”

        1. It’s such a familiar story, but one not enough people know about. Very informative. Thank you for sharing it.

  11. Elizabeth · · Reply

    Beautiful film! My sister suffers from daily headaches and chronic migraine. I remember the weekend it all started… many many years ago. I keep hoping one morning she will wake up and all the tension, stress and pain will be gone. She, like all of you who suffer from migraines, is so strong and committed to living with and through the pain and other symptoms. I admire that!

    I liked the line in your song about this being what you were born to do. Could you talk about what you meant?

    Here is my interpretation. The line struck me as a very Buddhist, hopeful idea that this life is what we have and what we do with it is what we were born to do. For many people that means living with pain and discomfort. You all push through that as much as you can. Those who don’t do what they were born to do see life pass them by. I really feel your film celebrates those who choose to live dispite the pain and with the pain. They travel with life and do their best to live every day.

    Thank you for sharing your film!

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful response Elizabeth! For me, the line “this is what you were born to do” is about telling myself that there is still purpose in a life with chronic pain… that there is purpose in getting up each day and attempting to work and contribute to the world in whatever way I can, and that I’m worth the effort (especially on days where it feels pointless or too difficult).

  12. […] still trying to absorb all of the wonderful responses to This Day, my winning film in the AMF and AHS’s Migraine Moment film contest. As a newbie to filmmaking, I am amazed at how successfully we (cinematographer Ian Macmillan, […]

  13. I have to agree with Nonnie as well. The problem with videos like this is that employers think “why can’t you just take some Tylenol and come in to work?” which minimizes how disabling migraine can be. It would have been so great if you had shown a bedridden vomiting day followed by the “power through” day shown in the video.

    1. Yeah… Those videos need to exist too. I think one of the problems perpetuating migraine stigma and misunderstanding is that there are many different levels of disability experienced by people with migraine: all the way from a handful of attacks in a lifetime to chronic perpetual symptoms that leave people severely disabled and unable to work, among other things. This spectrum of disability definitely needs to be represented in the form of widespread education an awareness campaigns. However, I am one, single person who has never made a video before, and who went out on a limb to share a tiny sliver of my own experience in a way I felt comfortable. I hope it will help to inspire (and never detract from) all the amazing advocacy and awareness work that is to come. We need all voices and all experiences to be heard. Let’s build each other up in this work rather than cutting each other down.

      1. Very well said, Anna. I wasn’t intending to cut you down – I actually quite like your video and I know that I just straight up don’t have the talent to make something like that about my own experience.

        The real problem is when people don’t listen to or respect migraineurs about their own experiences, regardless of where their assumptions and misunderstandings come from. Cheers!

  14. I LOVED your video. Everyone knows we have our awful horrible vomiting God awful days. But this. This is every day. The every day struggle that we all face. To function, WITH migraine. I have 2 small kids, a part time job, and I have been chronic daily for 3 years now. I can’t not function. Every day we struggle thru and your video depicts this so well. Be proud!

    1. I’m sorry to hear that you have been chronic daily for so long. Be proud indeed! We are so strong for continuing to make the best of each day despite migraine. All the best to you. I hope through work with a specialist you will find strategies to reduce your attacks very soon. ❤️

  15. Christa · · Reply

    Congratulations on your winning video Anna! My case is similar to yours and I am grateful for low pain days. I wish more people would realize Migraine is DIFFERENT for everyone. Your lyrics are surreal. I just love the ending line…”Maybe it will be one of those days I don’t have to pretend”. Like others, I don`t want pity, I want a cure. Thank you for your amazing depiction of a day in the life of a Migraineur. Wish I could of met you…

  16. Thank you for your blog and this beautiful film. Congrats on winning. It made me cry and I felt for you so much seeing you in pain at the end. It really resonates with me, the feeling of trying to battle through a day, doing everything you can to forestall a migraine and still ending up with one. Wishing you all the best.

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