The Show Must Go On; Kristin Chenoweth Describes Performing with Migraines

The show must go on. For anyone living with migraine disease, that’s always been the case. The world doesn’t stop when a migraine hits, and neither do our lives or responsibilities, especially at work. The same is true for Tony and Emmy Award-winning singer and actress Kristin Chenoweth.

Like so many others, Chenoweth suffers from migraine disease. In fact, she’s one of 39 million Americans silently getting by with this disease every day. And, of those suffering from this chronic disease, 85% are women – startling numbers given the fact that migraines, and the pain they cause, are invisible.

In a recent interview at the 2019 Migraine World Summit, Kristin Chenoweth described how she copes with migraines and her experiences persevering through them to complete live performances.

She understands the challenges of giving your all to a job, speaking engagement or performance, but fights through it to deliver the show she’s promised. “I think there’s a feeling for all of us that have it, that we don’t want to be a disappointment,” Chenoweth said of battling responsibilities and migraine.

Though singing and stage acting aren’t common job descriptions, Kristin’s mentality and strategy for keeping her migraines at bay are examples for others to follow. Like others have suggested in the past, Chenoweth watches her caffeine and alcohol intake, and as she describes, she “pounds the water.” And, though it may cause some funny looks, she’s not afraid to wear her sunglasses indoors.

Most importantly though, Chenoweth recognizes the benefits of talking about her migraine disease with colleagues and, in her case, costars. Since migraine is an ‘invisible disease,’ there’s less commonly known about its effects, and naturally, more stigma about it – especially in the workplace. “Nobody wants to talk about that fact that you have this ‘headache’,” Chenoweth jokes to the audience, but later explains, “when you let your secret out to those who work with you, how they can help you” can make a huge difference.

It’s so important to be open about migraine attacks, even at work. Finding friends and coworkers who can help out, pick up some slack or just offer support when we need it most can vastly improve the workplace and eliminate some of the stigma surrounding migraine disease.

Living and working with migraine disease isn’t like most other health challenges – it’s invisible. And so, those who don’t get migraines, don’t get migraines. Chenoweth explains, “If I had an arm sling, you would know that I had a problem, right? But its inside, so nobody can see it.” That’s why we must speak up and speak out about migraine disease. Help is out there, but only if we ask for it. And though we might not manage our migraines while performing in front of large crowds or standing in a spotlight on stage, our own shows, too, must go on.