Helping kids cope with a migraine: Barrie author sheds light on the debilitating headaches

Children's book "Milly Has a Migraine " educates children and adults

Most of us have heard about or even experienced painful migraines at one point. However, there’s still a misunderstanding regarding these extreme headaches, including when it comes to children.

Having raised two children who suffered from these debilitating headaches, Barrie author Joanne McPhail wrote: “Milly Has A Migraine” in hopes of shedding light on how they affect someone’s day-to-day life.

The book follows a day in the life of 6-year-old Milly as she wakes up with a terrible migraine. She struggles to get ready for the day, trying hard to make it to school, but she’s in too much pain.

As a result, she has to stay home and is incredibly disappointed to miss the track and field meet.

The story takes us through the rest of her day, what it feels like to be home alone, and the stress her migraines cause her.

McPhail explains, “It’s hard for kids to miss out on important events; they can feel like they’re disappointing their friends by cancelling plans.

She adds, “When you suffer from migraines, you often have to cancel out on things at the last minute. I hope people understand that a migraine sufferer isn’t cancelling unless they absolutely have to. It’s nothing personal.”

McPhail acknowledges that migraines are sometimes trivialized by people who don’t understand them.

“Many people assume migraine is ‘just a headache,’ but it can be debilitating and a whole-body experience. With the book, I hope to educate people about how it feels to have one, both physically and mentally, because it can be socially ostracizing.”

It was McPhail’s personal journey with the condition that led her to write the book.

“I originally got migraines at around age 24, and both my children, unfortunately, seemed to inherit the migraine gene and experienced them early in life. It’s hard, as a parent, to watch a child suffer physically and emotionally. She recalled.

“‘Milly has a Migraine’ was written many years after we got through that period. Writing it and putting it out into the world was a therapeutic adventure for me, and I hope it helps people.” she says.

For parents and caregivers going through this journey themselves or with a child, Mcphail says there are great organizations with lots of resources.

Some organizations include Migraine Trust, Migraine Canada, and the Migraine World Summit.

“These were all incredible resources for me and my children as we went through the process,” McPhail says.

You can get your copy of “Milly Has a Migraine” at