Migraine and the DMV Don’t Mix

Department of Motor Vehicles. Few words fill me with as much dread as these do. It’s more than a hassle; it’s a health hazard for someone with migraine. It’s hot, crowded, loud, smelly, and bright, and frustration is almost guaranteed. Any one of those factors could trigger a migraine; combined, they become a bomb with a malfunctioning timer—you’re pretty sure it’s going to explode, but have no idea when. Avoiding the DMV at all costs is a priority for me.

Apprehension set in the moment I realized my stolen driver’s license had to be replaced in person. I kept reminding myself that all the fretting about how bad it was going to be would only make the experience worse. I told myself that it’s impossible to predict how any event will turn out before it happens. But, come on, this is the DMV. The chance was high that a migraine attack would come on ten minutes after I arrived and be there for another three hours.

My preparation was thorough. I completed the paperwork online ahead of time and checked which office had the shortest wait time. I dressed in layers so I could manage the temperature and took earplugs for the noise and TheraSpecs for the lights; my laptop, Kindle, and phone went into the bag so I’d have entertainment and distraction. I ate ahead of time and grabbed some emergency snacks and a water bottle. I packed up my best behavior and mindfulness skills to bring along. Still, I chewed my lip the entire 25-minute drive and my heart beat a little too quickly as I walked through the door.

And, of course, the experience wasn’t all that bad. I was there for 55 minutes, during which I had to go to three different windows and waited eight minutes for change for a $20. I got some writing done and played some games on my phone. It did not trigger a migraine attack. Other than the shorter wait times, the DMV was exactly as I imagined it, but this didn’t ultimately affect me.

I’d like to think my planning played a part in getting me through the DMV without a migraine attack. I’m making a mental note of this experience so the next time I dread something, I can pull it out as an example of why fretting is fruitless. Maybe next time I’ll listen when I tell myself not to worry.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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