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Who’s driving your bus?

Imagine that your life with Migraine is a bus. Sometimes it’s going somewhere and other times it is stalled or parked alongside the road. Regardless, it is YOUR bus. Do you know who’s driving your bus?  Is it you? Maybe someone else is driving and you’re just a passenger along for the ride. How would you know?


  • Take charge of their own health care
  • View health care professionals as consultants who work for them
  • Expect their health to improve
  • Focus on the next option when faced with treatment failures
  • Take responsibility for trigger avoidance, lifestyle modifications, and medication compliance
  • Seek advice from others, then make their own treatment decisions
  • Actively look for solutions
  • View problems as challenges to be overcome
  • Feel empowered to make lasting changes for the better
  • Are full of hope


  • Believe that others are in charge of their health
  • View healthcare professionals as someone they must obey or please
  • Expect their health to worsen or stay the same
  • Focus on the history of failures
  • Believe that nothing they do will have an impact on migraine
  • Seek out other passengers with whom to commiserate
  • Passively expect others to provide solutions
  • View problems as evidence that nothing will ever change
  • Feel helpless and powerless to make lasting change
  • Have lost hope

If we are honest, every one of us has probably spent time as both passenger and driver. From my experience as a passenger, I learned that it takes a lot of willpower to break out of that role and take charge again. I also discovered that I feel better and like myself a lot better when I am the driver.

Being the driver is especially challenging for those with comorbid depression, other mood, and anxiety disorders. Yet just because you cope with depression doesn’t automatically make you a passenger on your own bus. It’s not about your mood. You can be a depressed or anxious driver as long as you are the one making the choices about treatments, which doctors to see, and what lifestyle factors you will implement. What makes driving with mental illness so challenging is that we have to fight that chemically-induced helpless, fatalistic feeling. Our inner demons become powerful, obnoxious passengers that we struggle to keep silent. The trick (and it’s a difficult one) is to kick them off the bus and not let them back on.  That may take many sessions with a therapist and some strong medicine.

If you are not currently the driver of your own bus

You can take over again. It may take some work to convince others that you are willing and capable to be the driver. You may have to get tough to take back your rightful place. It might even feel intimidating to take the wheel, but you can do it. This is YOUR bus and you were made to drive it.

You may discover there are some unruly passengers, too. Passengers can be real people, or even the mental tapes you play in your head that trigger doubt and fear. Some will leave when you take the wheel. Others may quiet down. Yet there will be a few that fight the change. You may have to kick them off by force. Some are stubborn and will try to get back on your bus at the next stop.  You don’t have to open that door.

Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.

If you get lost along the way, just pull over and check the map or call another driver to get directions. It’s your bus. Don’t let anyone else try to take it where you don’t want to go.

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


  • Sandy
    5 years ago

    great article. Sometimes the struggle is daily to stay driver especially when those around us love and care for us but have passenger mentality, especially when it comes to patient/dr care.
    stay positive and be well. thanks for the article Tammy

  • RobertCan
    5 years ago

    There’s no question that I’m currently a Driver. I recently gave a Keynote presentation to my Neurologist so that she could better understand my journey with her. I presented five years of migraine history demonstrating that the overall trend is that my migraines are worsening under her care. That hasn’t always been the case but I needed her to step back for a moment and see the bigger picture. I think doctors are accustomed to treating us in that moment, dealing with whatever our current status might be. While I understand this approach, its important to occasionally step back and look at the bigger picture.

    To my surprise, she was incredibly grateful that I took the time to organize five years of data and present it to her in a concise, helpful manner. I presented using an iPad and then provided her with hard copies of all the slides. She was blown away, remarking that most patients simply aren’t that engaged in their own care.

    If I’m to be honest with myself, I have to admit that I’ve been a Passenger for most of my journey with migraines. I’ve simply trusted in the professionals to do the right thing. As my migraines transformed from episodic to chronic, I realized little had changed in my care over the years.

    I became a Driver out of desperation and frustration. Living in chronic pain consumes your life, leaving you desperate for relief, however small. Driving the bus isn’t as difficult as it may seem and is the only way to ensure you’re receiving the highest level of care possible.

    Wishing you all a pain-free day!

  • Tammy Rome author
    5 years ago

    Way to go! You took charge of your migraine care. I bet you’ve earned some increased respect from your neurologist, too. You are lucky to have one that will listen long enough to understand and not just do what is “standard care”.

    Keep on driving!

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