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Migraine Awareness Month

“His headache was still sitting over his right eye as if it had been nailed there.”

~ Ian Fleming, Moonraker, 1954

Even Secret Agent 007 has to deal with terrible headaches even when on On Her Majesty's Secret Service. June's Migraine and Headache Awareness Month designation is designed to raise public knowledge, address stigmas and build a stronger community of patient advocates. Worldwide, migraine affects nearly one billion people and has been likely described as early as 1500 BCE in ancient Egyptian accounts. Some famous sufferers throughout history include: Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte, Thomas Jefferson, Sigmund Freud, Friedrich Nietzsche, Charles Darwin, and the descendants of the mutineers of the famous 1789 mutiny on the Royal naval vessel HMS Bounty. The principal colour purple in this tartan is the widely accepted colour used to promote Migraine awareness. The grey-green colour, inspired a thread colour called "maelstrom", was included to represent the metaphorical "storm" felt in the head during a migraine attack. For sufferers, we wish you ease. 🤯

This disorder, which afflicts a huge proportion of the human population, is much studied with researchers finding genetic links in some curious populations and even literary references.

On April 28, 1789, Fletcher Christian and 18 other sailors aboard the HMS Bounty wrested control of the ship from their commanding officer, Lieutenant William Bligh. The mutineers sent Bligh and the members of the crew loyal to him off in a lifeboat in the South Pacific, then set sail to some nearby islands for new lives.  Some of the men settled in Tahiti, and the rest moved on to Pitcairn Island, where they burned the ship in what is now called Bounty Bay.  By 1855, they numbered around 200, and the 88 acres of usable land on the island could no longer sustain the population. Queen Victoria provided some relief and granted the mutineers' descendants Norfolk Island, a former penal colony a few thousand miles west. The next year, they abandoned Pitcairn and settled their new home. Some eventually went back to Pitcairn, and today about 50 people live there. All but a handful are direct descendants of the mutineers. The rest stayed at Norfolk, and today’s inhabitants include approximately 1000 Bounty descendants, about half the island’s population.

Bounty descendants on both islands have another problem: headaches.

Migraine affects approximately 12 percent of the Caucasian population worldwide, but among Bounty descendants, the number jumps to 23 percent—with approximately 12 percent of males and 33 percent of females afflicted. This prevalence, combined with their history and living situation, makes the children of the mutiny very attractive to scientists.

Migraine may also be linked to Lewis Carroll's famous story, Alice in Wonderland, in which Alice drinks a liquid that makes her grow many times her size and eats a cookie that shrinks her to tiny proportions.  Migraine sufferers may recognize this description as some possible symptoms of the disorder including  micropsia and macropsia, or perceiving objects to be much smaller or larger than they really are.  Some theorize that Alice in Wonderland author Lewis Carroll suffered migraines and wrote his experiences into his story. The book’s connection to migraine is so famous that today the related symptoms are commonly known as "Alice in Wonderland Syndrome."

This tartan designed by Thomas C Stephens is intended to be used by those wishing to raise Migraine awareness.

For more on Migraine Awareness and this year's campaign of support for sufferers by wearing sunglasses and sharing your support, "Shades for Migraine", click the artist's representation.

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