Whitney Port’s migraines feel like ‘someone is smashing my temples with a hammer’

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The last time we talked about Whitney Port she was opening up about suffering a miscarriage. Hecate covered that story and mentioned that Whitney revealed something that people rarely talk about when discussing pregnancy loss – relief. Whitney said she felt both a deep loss along with relief because she wasn’t sure that she wanted another child. Whitney and her husband of four years, Tim Rosenman, have son Sonny, two. In a new interview with People, Whitney talked about the debilitating migraines she’s had since she was a child. They stopped when she was pregnant, but they’re back again and she gets terrible ones about twice a month. She also gets milder ones periodically and is most concerned about how it affects her relationship with her son. Whitney is partnering with Excedrin.

Whitney Port.. 34, says that she’s had headaches since she was a “little girl,” that developed over time in to frequent migraines.

“When they’re so bad, it just makes it feel like they’re so much more intense and such a big part of your life,” she tells PEOPLE.

In Port’s case, she gets sweaty palms and starts to feel dizzy, and then it feels like “someone is constantly smashing my temples with a hammer.” A really bad migraine will pop up every couple of weeks, but she also gets milder ones once a week or more.

“I feel like as I’ve gotten older and especially around stressful times they’ll get worse, because it’s like my body’s way of reacting to any kind of stress or anxiety,” she says. “The interesting thing is that when I was pregnant I didn’t get them, so I think it’s a little bit of a hormonal thing. And now they vary in strength, but they come all too often.”

Port says it tough to describe her migraines to Sonny.

“It’s really, really hard, because he doesn’t understand what’s happening, and I just never want him to feel like he’s done anything for me to need to step away,” she says.

“I ask Timmy [her husband] to step in so I can lay down and close my eyes and drink a couple glasses of water,” she says. “I’ll try to explain to Sonny as much as I can, that, ‘Mommy has a little boo-boo on top of her head and she needs to rest for a second.’ You do what you can.”

Port says that it bothers her that there’s “a lot of quality time that I’ve missed or not been able to enjoy because I’ve been hit with a migraine,” but she makes sure to take the time to “pull myself together.”

“You have to do what you have to do to get through it,” she says. “Even if I have to turn on the TV for Sonny to keep him busy. You’ve got to neutralize your kid so you can get yourself back on your feet.”

[From People]

That sounds terrible! We’ve talked before about migraines, when Kristen Chenoweth was saying that she has been able to control them through a diet recommended by her doctor, and that she’s had to perform on stage with a migraine. This brings me to the main question I have when reading stories like these – how do people who suffer from migraines manage to work? This must be especially hard for people in service jobs, performers, and other professions where you have to be “on” all the time. I’m so lucky to work from home. I’ve had to work from bed at times due to illness and am grateful to have that option.

That’s cute but sad that she tells her kid she has a boo-boo on her head and needs to rest. Also, doesn’t it sound like she’s putting too much pressure on herself as a mom? I mean I used to let my kid watch TV at that age, but she’s making it sound like a last resort.

Her son is adorable!

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37 Responses to “Whitney Port’s migraines feel like ‘someone is smashing my temples with a hammer’”

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  1. Jenns says:

    I’m not sure I can link an article, but this talks specifically about working women and migraines. I think it’s an excellent breakdown about migraines, women suffering in silence and the lack of healthcare/sick days in America.


    • Enn says:

      I’ve never seen this before but it sums up my experience as living with migraine perfectly. Thank you for sharing it.

  2. CROWHOOD says:

    I’m fortunate that I don’t get them often but when I do I have To be in a completely dark and silent room. If I got Them more frequently I don’t know how I would work. It’s an all-encompassing pain.

  3. Birdix says:

    The triptan drugs have changed my life. Excedrin is good for a headache, but the triptans knock a migraine out.

    • Erinn says:

      Triptans are the only thing that are even able to touch mine. I might as well take sugar pills if it’s between that and advil/tylenol. Triptans have allowed me to live at least reasonable.

      • Arizona says:

        Same! I use a sumatriptan. I don’t even tend to get headaches – everything is usually just a migraine, and it just depends on the pain level. Advil stopped working in college, and Tylenol stopped working in high school. Excedrin can work on a rare occasion, but it always makes me incredibly nauseous and sometimes puke, even if I eat before taking it.

        Migraines are the devil.

      • Enn says:

        I combine my triptan with Fioricet and a muscle relaxer, with a side of Zofran for the bad ones.

    • BB says:

      Sumatriptan literally changed my life. I always have some in my bag, it is the only thing that will work, no matter how bad the migraine.

      Beta Blockers for prevention are also great, as they have reduced the frequency.

      I wish doctors would let people with migraines know that there ARE options out there and they don’t have to live with this intolerable, unpredictable pain. General practitioners do not know all the options, and they should refer migraine sufferers to neurologists.

      If you suffer from migraines and have been told many times that there is nothing you can do, and to just take some paracetamol or aspirin (ha, as if!) please try to see a specialist and talk about your options!!

  4. Enn says:

    Ha, I have one right now so this is timely. People ask me how I function (I have maybe 5 headache free days a month) and the answer in my case is a big sequined bag of pills that goes everywhere I do. I feel for Whitney and it does sound like her bad migraines could be hormonal since it’s twice a month.

    Also, if you haven’t heard of spoon theory, it’s a really good way to describe what it’s like to live with a chronic illness. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spoon_theory

    I use my spoons to work, because I have to pay my bills. Everything else in my life suffers – family time, social life, sex life tbh – because I power through the things I have to do and then I’m useless. I’ve missed weddings, funerals, birthdays…it’s a very sucky way to live.

    • Erinn says:

      I probably have 10-15 headache free days a month, depending on what’s going on in my life at the time. Spoon theory is great – and it’s an important read for anyone who HAS chronic illness, or if you love someone with chronic illness.

      And that’s just it. Work comes first, and I’m lucky that I’m able to work like I do. I know so many people with chronic conditions can’t, and I’m so thankful that I manage.

      I bought a joke shirt that says “No more spoons, only knives left”.

    • Mabs A'Mabbin says:

      Me too Enn. I’m having one right now. I don’t think I have five headache-free days a month. If I find myself headache-free, it’s so shocking I’m elated beyond words, and I might crank up the tunes and do a little dance or most likely get some cleaning done. And then it’s over. It never lasts an entire day, just a short-lived moment of nirvana.

      I’ve gone to so many doctors, spent so much money and tweaked everything from food to drink to activities, etc. It’s a total ongoing nightmare which keeps me leveled lol.

  5. janey says:

    In the UK, I use migraleve. They are becoming more frequent as I head into menopausal territory. Everything about being perimenopausal sucks. Prior, I used to get menstrual migraines. I have a now 7 year old (late to the parenting party) and he understands that he has to play on his ipad VERY quietly while I lie down if his father isn’t home. These things are a fact of life, I don’t love telling him to be quiet and essentially leave me alone, but the rest of time I try to make up for it. Like everything, its a balance.

  6. Kimiber says:

    I’ve had to work while wearing sunglasses all day with a migraine more than once. Luckily I worked in optical so not the weirdest thing to be doing, but still. Explaining the situation to patients/customers went a long way. The worst part was a know-it-all male coworker insisting that I did not in fact have a migraine because I wouldn’t be able to function if I did. I’ve been getting them since I was 12, been on multiple medications and treatments, had several MRIs over the years, have a family history, but by all means you’re right 🙄 I don’t know what a migraine is. I’ve definitely had them before where I’ve literally taped my curtains to the wall to avoid any and all light. Very frustrating because migraines are so variable and it’s one of those words people throw out anytime they have a headache.

    • Enn says:

      Don’t you just love when people either tell you that you’re wrong or try to cure you by suggesting *insert thing here*? 🙄 I always want to ask if they’re a board certified neurologist specializing in migraine.

      • Arizona says:

        My favorite is when people try to tell me to just drink more water. Oh. That’s going to cure my diagnosed chronic migraines – just some water. Someone better clue my physician in!

        I’ve literally had migraines my entire life – I was a colicky baby and had cyclic vomiting syndrome as a young kid. There are studies that have shown that people who had colic as a baby and cyclic vomiting syndrome as a kid often suffer from migraines – basically the theory is that the other two issues are how migraines presented in your body when you were younger. But I’ve had migraines since I was very young as well – I saw a neurologist for years as a kid. Which unfortunately leads me to believe that I won’t be one of the lucky ladies who doesn’t get migraines anymore after menopause, because mine don’t seem to be tied to hormones/menstruation.

      • H says:

        @Arizona, speaking as somebody who went into surgical menopause after a hysterectomy, my migraines have not ended they’ve gotten worse. Every doctor I ever had in my twenties and thirties told me I would rejoice when I went into menopause as my headaches would go away. Ha!

        imitrex and the rest of those types of medications do not work for me anymore. The VA will not prescribe Fioricet any longer. Taking Excedrin Migraine is like taking a tic tac for me. I’ve been reduced to occipital nerve blockers every 3 months, but they’re starting to fail. I’ve also tried Botox with no luck. I’m hoping to try Amiovig, but that probably won’t happen to next year as the VA is always slow about prescribing new drugs on the market.

        but yeah I’ve heard constantly from friends and family you should drink more water. Water is all I drink, all day long. Jeez.

    • Mabs A'Mabbin says:

      You gals are singing my song. The song I’ve been singing since late teens. I have actually asked some where and when they doctored in neurology. And then my passive aggressiveness goes into overdrive. “When can I make an appointment? Which new treatments are you prescribing? Have you had any success with…? Do I really need another MRI because I’ve had five. I’ve seen…. And… And…. And… Do know them? Which hospital do you work at?” Oh yes, chances are I’m talking to whoever in the throws of a terrible headache, a cluster or a migraine so go ahead, tell me drink more water. Please.

      Nothing works for me anymore because I, too, got thrust into menopause through a hysterectomy which sent my migraines into uncharted territories. It’s wonderful how doctors no longer treat pain because of fear. I get to pay for criminal behavior from pill mills and oxy addicts with personal chronic pain. I’m so grateful.

  7. Maria says:

    Mine are horrific. I usually need to get steroid shots to alleviate mine.

  8. olala says:

    Mine were horrific and often. Once I had one that i thought I literally will bang my head on the wall I couldn’t take anymore. Nothing. worked.Migraleve worked for a while but Sumatran was a miracle. Then I had to insert Kyleena coil and voila! migraines stopped altogether completely..Zero nada

    • Jennifer says:

      Olala- Kyleena stooped your migraines? Amazing. I would love to research this!!

    • Kbad says:

      Oh, I hear this! I used to get terrible menstrual migraines, from when I first got my period at 11, until I had a Mirena IUD put in when I was 30. I was migraine free for five years! I was extremely apprehensive about having the Mirena removed when we decided to try for a baby, but I’ve been really lucky and my migraines haven’t come back in the nearly three years since. I get a headache some months, but nothing like I used to get. I don’t know if this is the case for all women who have a IUD but it felt like a miracle to me!

  9. Arizona says:

    I am lucky with my work that my boss is pretty understanding. Sometimes I can have a migraine that’s mild and just work, sometimes I have to shut my lights off in my office, but there have been a handful of times that I’ve had to leave or call out because of them. The last time I got one that had me throwing up and in an awful state within an hour of onset. I had tried to keep working because I am embarrassed to leave work due to it – part of that “invisible illness” issue, I guess. My boss just told me not to wait so long next time, and was prepared to drive me home.

    Mine range a lot. I don’t get incredibly bad ones all that frequently, but when I do, I can do nothing – can’t read, can’t use screens, can’t sleep, can’t do anything but lay in a dark room and writhe in agony. It makes you want to smash your head open. I get mild ones probably about once a week, although mine tend to cluster – I can go a week or two without one, and then I’ll have 5 in one week.

  10. Noodle says:

    I suffer from chronic migraine, and have them more days than I don’t. My neurologist says like 80% of his migraine patients are women like me: educated, professional, perimenopausal women, often juggling kids and aging parents. Stress plays a HUGE role, but what am I to do? Not parent? Quit my job? Age backwards? I am thankful that I have a job I can work from home (I am a professor and teach, research, attend meetings, etc online), and I can shut off all the lights, close the curtains, and listen to meetings from my bed, if needed. I cannot imagine having to go into an office or out-of-the-house workplace every day, as the lights alone would be enough to trigger a migraine in me. If anyone here is looking for a supportive place to talk about migraines or share experiences, Reddit has a nice migraine community, which can be found at r/migraine.

  11. Sarah says:

    Water and excedrin? This type of response (from Port) hurts those of us that really suffer from the debilitating condition that is migraine.

  12. JanetFerber says:

    I swear, I thought she was Hailey Baldwin by the picture.

  13. TheOtherOne says:

    I use to suffer from migraines as well, which I believe I got from my dad (He’s passed out a few times). Any sudden increases or drops in temperature, allergy season, PMS, wine or onions (just the smell sometimes) and I was in horrible pain. I use to crawl into bed, get in the fetal position and just cry. I went to a neurologist and he wanted to give me several different medications. I was in my early 20s so I wasn’t sure of the long-term effects of taking all that medication.

    Now in my 30s, I found getting an IUD helped decrease them, as well as acupuncture OrangeTheory, staying hydrated and eating small meals throughout the day. I still get an occasional migraine now (usually when I skip a meal) and then but not nearly as severe or debilitating. I take two Aleeve and I’m good.

    So my heart goes out to all migraine sufferers. It’s really hard to explain how painful this conditoin is unless you actually have them yourself.

  14. Noneofyourbeeswax says:

    Migraine is the worse. I’m incredibly fortunate that I have a job with paid leave. And a boss who’s mother experienced migraines. The effects of migraine on my kids was tough but they never once complained. I hope it taught them compassion.
    After menopause my migraines morphed into vestibular migraine. Less pain but massive dizziness and inability to stand or walk as I cant tell up from down. Lots of falling and two broken bones so far. I take triptans, get acupuncture, and I watch the weather forecast like a hawk. Wild changes in barometric pressure are major red flags and mean that I have to try all my self care tricks to try to avoid a migraine.

  15. Liz version 700 says:

    I used to be in the 15-20 days a month migraine category. I started Aimovig and it has cut the number of migraine days in half. But it is still so difficult to manage working and having a migraine disorder. No one realizes how tough you have to be to be a migraine suffered.

  16. Psu doh nihm says:

    It’s NOT easy to work. I actually had FMLA approved because of them.
    I would work until I couldn’t anymore then I would clock out and lay under my desk until I felt well enough to drive to my house, my bosses house (who lived behind the office) or the hospital.
    I was fortunate that I worked in an office of 300+ women who understood. Ironically enough, the worst sufferer other than myself was the one man who worked in our office. Lol.

  17. Inthenow says:

    I suffered from migraines since I was 16 until my early 40s. I’d be in the ER 4-5 times a month needing morphine drip. My doc used to make sure the hospital knew who I was so they wouldn’t treat me like a drug seeking addict. Once in a while I’d get an ER doctor who would treat me badly and my doc would rip him/her a new one.
    My doc retired about 6 years ago and I had to get a new doc. I LOVE HER. I loved that she treats my migraine not just with pharmaceuticals but with natural remedies including vitamins. I am happy to say I’ve been mostly migraine free for 6 years.

    My routine:
    500MG of Magnesium Caltrate every single night. Lots of women are low in magnesium due to our periods or other issues..please research this and see if helps. Low magnesium results in migraines, depression anxiety, muscle cramps etc.
    CoQ10 which is another supplement I take 600MG daily
    Vitamin b12 injection monthly. If you are low in b12 in your body (especially if you don’t eat meat), you can also get migraines, anxiety etc

    Once in a while I slack off because I am too lazy to go to walmart and restock the above and I end up paying the price.

  18. HoudiniHarry says:

    I started experiencing migraines when I was in college, and still continue having them to this day (I am 60). At one point when I had the best paying job of my life with the best insurance ever, I started having disabling migraines daily. I sought out every doctor in my area, and they blamed it on rebound headaches. I ended up seeing the head of the neurology department of a nationally famous hospital in the midwest, and he blamed it on marital problems, which couldn’t have been further from the truth. I ended up taking FMLA, then leaving my job because the migraines couldn’t be managed with any medications prescribed to me. They lasted a little over three years. Then my sister had the same thing, and it dawned on me. It was menopause. We both went through menopause and weren’t able to find any meds that worked to manage our migraine pain. I manage my pain now with diet, which I started way back when I was at that job, and with one medication, a generic Topomax. That’s it. My sister is doing well now too. The only thing that bothers us now are low pressure systems, and that is beyond our control. I can usually sleep those migraines off overnight. I still can’t believe not one doctor thought that maybe menopause might be the cause of our migraines.

  19. Ramona Q. says:

    This is for anyone who gets migraines. I just heard Nikki Glaser say (on an old Conan episode?) the only thing that works to relieve the pain is putting the Hitachi Magic Wand on her eye. But be careful because it gave her a swollen eye.

  20. Crystal says:

    Chronic migraine sufferer here. Botox has given me my life back. Unfortunately you have to try a bunch of drugs before health insurance will pay for it but it has been a godsend for me.

  21. vegasschmegas says:

    I’m lucky that I work from home, and have an understanding boss. I take monthly self-administered migraine shots, and need Sumatripan shots when I flare. No OTC meds will work. Taking Aleve caused me to have a stomach ulcer. Migraines are not fun, and I feel for anyone who has to he a caregiver when suffering one.

  22. Patricia M says:

    My very first memory as a human is a migraine – I’ve had them all my life and until I was 45, no one believed me. The migraines were exacerbated by TMJ, and correct of surgery on my jaw helped a little, but I was getting ready to go on disability because it’s hard to work when you’re throwing up in the bathroom every five minutes. I did headache diaries, MRIs,‘s CT’s, special diets, behavior modification, and had a doctor say I needed antidepressants. I told him I wasn’t depressed nor suicidal, I just felt like my head was ready to explode. I finally met a neurologist who prescribed sumatriptan. That fixed 85% of a headache but gave me rebound migraines. We then tried zomatriptan which is a slightly different formulation and I can honestly say that it gave me my life back. I was able get back to weaving and writing. The only problem I’ve had since is that every time my insurance company changes their drug formulary they try to take my migraine medication off the list and it takes months of battles with my primary position, my neurologist, and me to get the exception put in. Last time they finally approved it after my third trip to urgent care and IVs. Paying for the meds is definitely cheaper than paying for urgent care!

  23. Monika says:

    I have always had about one banger of a migraine a year, since I was a kid, and lots of headaches. When I was 33, freshly pregnant with my first child, I had a massive migraine right before I had a stroke. Five years later, same migraine headache, second stroke. Please, please, please, if you have serious headaches, take care to keep a headache journal and if it intensifies to the point where you feel weak, incoherent, lose or suffer altered vision or anything else that is unusual in a migraine, call 911. I know it’s not a scientifically proven link, but no neurologist I dealt with will categorically deny the possibility of a link between migraines and strokes. Not trying to scare anyone, just wanted to give this perspective. Also, as I am on blood thinners, I can’t take anything but Tylenol for my headaches; anyone have any recommendations for alternative forms of relief?

  24. Ash says:

    I got my first at 28. The first day of my drug rep job. Go figure! It was a stressful 6 years I took it as a sign! lol. I read abt the Botox and the insurance woes. The best advice for your migraine self care plan is getting even a little Botox will help! Even if it’s cosmetic. I started Botox at 40 to help with wrinkles. It wears off in about 3-4 months, headaches ramp up. I do sumatriptan, Botox, no soy, no msg, and essential oils baths/massages. When they’re unbearable I’ll take a heavy duty painkiller to just dull the pain, but imitrex will usually get them. And try to live stress-free! HA!!! 😩