My girlfriend tells me that I am no longer allowed to gamble. However, I would happily go against her iron-fisted will on one very specific occasion: if I were able to wager that over 90% of all reported migraines were, at best, just headaches.

What first tipped me off to this possibility was the correlation I noticed between people who suffered from “migraines” generally being the whingey, fragile types who claim to be coeliac and have annoyingly specific and problematic allergies. “I’m allergic to onions!” No, you’re not. You don’t like onions; at best you have an intolerance to onions, but you are not allergic to onions. As demonstrated by the fact that you are going deep into that leek, chive, and garlic quiche.

The second thing that suggested to me that some foul play was afoot was the surprisingly serendipitous timing at which these “migraines” tended to present themselves; generally when the victim, and I use that term loosely, was doing something that they did not want to do. Just before an admittedly tedious team meeting, for example. Or during a night out with a partner and his or her friends. I used to know a girl who liked to do pills. Her boyfriend was not a massive fan, and in a spooky coincidence, whenever he knew she was meeting up with her more crazy friends a migraine would suddenly present itself. She would feel guilty and invariably go home early or not go out at all.

“You cannot go about challenging people otherwise you will end up looking like the awful person.”

I have softened in my stance. For a long time, I refused to believe that migraines existed. It’s called a headache, Carol, we all get them. This was compounded by the fact that I grew up in the countryside, where, for better or worse, people just get on with shit. It was only when I moved to London (a wonderful city populated by the most delicate people) that I started meeting all these guys and gals who were periodically struck down with crippling headaches that required them to go and lay in a darkened room – like some anxious mother in a Jane Austen novel who upon discovering the secret desires of the eligible bachelor Edward Goochworthington, must retire to the parlour lest her nerves give way. Quick, Martha, bring the smelling salts!

I filed it next to “Being OCD” as another fabricated malady that people desperate for an affectation would profess to be suffering from. This, of course, is nonsense. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a difficult and a many-headed beast that affects the lives of many people. As are, I now know, migraines. However, both of these things and many other conditions, have been hijacked.

Everybody wants to be special, and everybody wants to get their own way. A section of society has decided to achieve these goals by feigning medical afflictions that have no overtly recognisable symptoms. It is a plan of simple genius; after all, who has the time or the will to prove that somebody is not suffering from a certain condition. You will only end up looking like a callous, petty, and malicious individual. We must all just accept these little inconveniences, and then bitch about them when we are drunk: “Like fuck did Bobby have a migraine the other day; motherfucker just didn’t want to help take out the Christmas tree. Bullshit.”

And of course, the people who get the real raw end of the deal here are those that actually do suffer from these conditions; they will just be lumped in with all the other Johnny-come-latelies. It is the classic boy who cried wolf: their constant lying is going to end up fucking it for everybody.

So, what to do? Well, people don’t change. There will always be those who bullshit and exaggerate in order to garner sympathy, and then use this as leverage for getting their own way. And as we have already discussed, you cannot go about challenging people otherwise you will end up looking like the awful person. I guess we just have to put up with it; just as we put up with all the other bullshit that gets thrown at us on a day to day basis. The only solace comes from knowing that we are all thinking the same thing. It’s the furtive glances of understanding that we share with an exacerbated co-worker – the slight roll of the eyes that says, “We all know Karen in HR doesn’t have a migraine; she’s just a precious little flower with a headache.” It’s that quiet understanding, which the reasonable people of this world have; the calm acceptance of other people’s continual nonsense. The smile of disbelief you share with the person next to you waiting to get on the bus, as the guy in front fumbles through his giant bag looking for his oyster card while chatting to his dickhead mate on the phone.

They are out there, the idiots. And there are many of them. Just know that others share your pain. Being reasonable is a burden, but it is a burden we must bear.

Jackson Palmer