Broken down jalopy with headlight falling off, music playing from car, wrenches on the ground

Migraine as a Jalopy

I’m constantly looking for new ways to think about migraine. New imagery and ideas to help me manage the condition.

What if we imagine that our bodies are cars we are given to drive on the day we are born? No-fault of our own, we are all assigned our own cars that make it possible for us to get around. A shell that surrounds us. And for us migraineurs? We get clunkers.

Limited by our ride

Our car takes forever to get going in the morning and then stutters and shuts off after only a few blocks. Our car requires special oil changes and other assistance in order to drive just a few miles. In the middle of the night, it’s our car that starts sounding its alarm and wakes us from sleep. We have the car that stalls out and demands we pull over to refuel more frequently than others. We have to stop at the car repair shop more often because our car has so many issues. We’re not able to take long trips or go as far as others. We don’t get to adventure and can’t go off-road. Our car is more expensive to operate. Sometimes our car breaks down and gets in the way of others. Our car blocks the flow of traffic and we have to depend on others to help us.

Envious of others

It’s frustrating and it gets old. It makes us feel guilty to inconvenience other people. It makes us envious of the cars of others who don’t seem to have any issues. Why us? Why did we get this clunker? It doesn’t seem fair. What did we do to deserve this thing?

We watch our friends, coworkers, and loved ones cruise along as they happened to get a nicer model when they started out. They get to work on time. They have a smooth ride when they go on vacations. They never blow a tire. They lucked out with the most reliable vehicles. And that’s just it. Luck. They didn’t do anything to get a better model, and we didn’t do anything to deserve a more challenging one. It just happened. Regardless of why or how it happened, it has changed the course of our lifetimes and how we experience each and every day.

Gift in the journey

Over the course of many years of driving, we eventually learn the limitations of our car. We learn the odd ways to make it start and the best strategies to employ to keep it on the road. We understand what it can and can’t handle. Others speed by us, and while they get to the destination faster; we get to smell the flowers and see the sights that they miss. As time goes by, mechanics develop new oils to put in our car that seem to make it go a bit faster and further. But ultimately, and most importantly, we come to see that our car is not who we are. Although it can make us frustrated and emotional, we are not defined by our car, but we can surely learn from it.

Does this imagery work for you? Have you developed other ways to think about migraine that helps you on your journey? Please share with us in the comment section below so we can learn from one another.

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