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Completely Unofficial, Made-Up Migraine Types: The Kidnapper

Every time I deal with a new type of migraine, I try to come up with just the right name for it. You see, part of the way I cope with chronic migraine disease is by trying to find some humor while also learning about my illness more thoroughly. In creating my “Completely Unofficial, Made-Up Migraine Types,” I not only get a chance to let off some silly steam about my struggles, I also am able to better capture the nuance and frustrating symptoms of this tricky disease.

The migraine that kidnaps you from everything you love

The Kidnapper may at first seem similar to The Ninja, but its after-effects can be more nefarious. When the Kidnapper shows up, you or may or may not have been warned by way of prodrome symptoms. The Kidnapper seems like a routine, low-level migraine at first, but it differs from other attacks in that it whisks you away and leaves you (sometimes literally) in a dark room, away from the people you love and the work you need to accomplish.

Losing track of time

While in this hostage situation, you lose track of time and, despite calls for help (in the form of medications you ingest and treatments you attempt), you’re still stuck in that dark room. You have the vague feeling that you should be trying to send a notice to someone, letting your loved ones and coworkers know that you are down for the count but that you’ll be back to your old self as soon as possible. But the Kidnapper doesn’t allow you to have contact with the outside world. You feel discombobulated and confused, not able to clearly remember if you texted your colleagues to let them know you’re not coming in to work. You can’t quite recall if you had meetings or plans that you’re missing, and by the time you remember that you may be neglecting a duty, the Kidnapper cuts off your ability to communicate once again.

Trapped hostage

The Kidnapper doesn’t always come with debilitating pain. Sometimes, the brain fog is the worst side effect. This can be even trickier, as you attempt to function as normally as possible but end up making basic mistakes with arithmetic or speaking to your boss using words you weren’t trying to say at all. You may look pretty functional on the outside—as if the Kidnapper has taken you out in public and it looks like you are there with him willingly—but you are trapped, unsure when you’ll be released.

Post release

Hours or days later, the Kidnapper decides to let you go, and you end up back in the world, confused about how much time has passed and how many duties have been neglected. You feel like you’ve been living another existence—have your friends and loved ones been looking for you, or is it possible you’ve only been missing for a couple of hours that felt like weeks? You look around, blinded by the beautiful sunlit world, wondering how no one can sense that you’ve just come back from the edge.

Have you ever felt like migraine has kidnapped you? Have you ever lost sense of time and place so profoundly you can’t be sure how to resume your so-called “normal” life?

This post is meant to connect with other migraine patients who feel like migraine steals them away from the lives they want to lead and is not in any way suggesting that actual kidnapping is not to be taken seriously.

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.


  • Mar17
    2 months ago

    Best description of most my migraines. People don’t know the effort and battles inside my head with this kidnappers of joy, of peace of total calmness when I’m well. I’m going through 3 days already. Pain is numbing and dull today. Able to at least do few things at home while my day off and storming outside. Feeling like zombie. Can’t wait finish laundry and back to bed. Wishing you all a pain free day!

  • Li da
    2 months ago

    I have been having migraines now for well over 30 years they are progressive seems like they find something that takes some of it away but never completely my systoms now are so bad not the head ache part all the other I have seziuers and have lost my driver’s license I truly get the kidnapper and feel like a ghost because dr cant even explained to me or seem to get it them self’s after all they tell me it’s just a migraine

  • Jo89
    3 months ago

    I thought I was losing my mind! I’ve never heard of this happening to anyone else. It’s been happening to me lately. It’s new for me.

  • Malinda
    5 months ago

    Exactly! I was kidnapped today! My beloved family went to church and I was at home with ear phones (like the ones you wear at the shooting range) they block noise, and a cold eye mask. So trapped a prisoner in the dark silence. It also hurts worse if I move my head very much so lie still as possible. These measures with medication and I survive the days. Sometimes just making it through the day is the only accomplishment I can make and I’m so proud of myself for that. But that is not being the mother or wife I dreamed of being – I want my life…not in just a few precious days here and there. I’m greedy I want a whole week at a time, I want time with my loved ones uncomplicated by the nagging pain and confusion. I grieve this will be my children’s primary memory of me in their childhood….coming into my dark room to just be with me and give me hugs & whispers about their day. We even lie next to each other and text – my phone light is super dim. – I push hard to be there for them. I have been hiding the migraine seizures from them, I didn’t want to scare them. I have plenty of aura time to prepare. Go to room / lock door get in middle of bed / lay on left side…feel it coming and goes dark. I loose all sense of time sometimes 10 minutes sometimes 30. Just try to remember the time before it goes dark. Unfortunately last month my 13 year old had to help, I realized I had lost over an hour when I came out just enough to yelled out then went back into tonic clonic seizure. That day it came too fast for me to lock the door. My daughter was so strong & calm. When I came back to consciousness she was calmly explaining the seizure to the paremetric – even timed the tonic phases. Her older sister by 3 years has severe epilepsy and is disabled. She is ventilator dependent. Sarah, my 13 year old was taking it all in stride making sure Lauren has nursing coverage – their shift was ending and she asked them to stay (they knew to stay Lauren’s vent dependent – they can’t just leave without an adult to sign her over too) but Sarah does not know nursing license laws she was just taking care of business. 911 for me, nurses for Lauren. Call daddy – he’s a police officer so it’s not like he can just “take off” – he has to wrap up reports. Clear it with supervisors. But he came. I have a horrible disability – but I am SO SO blessed in my beloved family. I could not be richer in love and happiness with them. They are amazing and deserve for me to fight that kidnapper as hard as I can every time. I sometimes feel like a “failure” as a mom, but I can’t deny my girls are smart, independent and strong. They are actually pretty great. So maybe I’m no so bad after all. Stop beating myself up for what I can’t stop- because you are so right – it’s a kidnapping/ a violation of my life….oh and it hurts a lot.

  • klammon
    8 months ago

    Perfect timing, and great description. I’ve been really frustrated with myself lately because of losing time, forgetting things, getting confused. Because I haven’t had the pain, I forget the migraines kidnap my brain. Thank you.

  • mammapeaches (Susan McManus)
    8 months ago

    That is one of your best descriptions! It had me chuckling and cringing all at the same time❤️

  • TheKimberly75
    2 years ago

    I interpret “The Kidnapper” to be the many, many migraines that have kept me from living life.
    For many of my sons teenaged years it was routine for me to come home from work, go straight to my room, pull all the shades, prop up the pillows (cuz mine get worse when I lie down), and stay there all night. I missed out on a lot.
    I couldn’t begin to count the number of functions and holidays I’d plan on attending, but at the last minute I’d be kidnapped by a migraine and would have to beg my apologies because I couldn’t attend. At the least, it must be in the hundreds over the years. My friends are kind and they try to be understanding, but sometimes I can still hear the disappointment in their voice and I feel guilty for cancelling, even though I’ve agonized over the decision before calling and truly have no choice. I even wonder sometimes if they doubt me, if they think I use my pain as an excuse. Mostly, I believe that’s my paranoia. No one has ever come out and accused me of it.
    But all this kidnaps me from living even a semblance of a normal life. I’ve had migraines for over 40 years now, the last 20 being chronic, and little has ever helped. At 60, I’m resigned to the fact that it’s most likely with me for life. The pathways are so set now as to be made in stone.
    I do what I can to prevent and rescue myself from them, but in the end, they rule my life more than I rule them. That’s just a fact, not an attitude I can change. In the meantime I am grateful for friends and family who try to understand and thereby make my life that much easier.

  • aks868
    2 years ago

    I love this! Such a great and funny way of depicting the effects of migraine. I would like to add The Ghost: The migraine that makes you feel invisible to the rest of the world. You are lying in bed, hearing the outside world rush by because by now, everything that happens within a ten-mile radius feels like it is happening right next to your ear, and yet, you can do nothing and talk to no one. Then, when you are feeling a little better, you float around the house, unable to really accomplish or participate in anything, because you are so wiped out that you feel invisible and incapacitated. When you return to the land of the living, you have effectively stopped being The Ghost.

  • Val
    2 years ago

    Migraine kidnapped my daughter for two years. She literally could not function or communicate and dropped out of life almost entirely. I spent much of the time physically guiding her through each day and trying to get her some effective treatment. I don’t know what adult sufferer’s do when they get to this state, she was not at all able to help herself let alone keep up with life.

    Horrible for a 13 year old, finally doing better these days…

  • Holly H.
    2 years ago

    Oh, my… yes. When I lose time and place, it is so disconcerting. When it started at this chronic/constant/consuming level years ago, panic would set in. The brain/thought-blocking fog took over, and immediately my ducks were roaming all over the place in that fog and could not get back in a row …to know where I was, what I was doing, or how to proceed.
    For instance, when it happened while in the shower; every time I had to start from the beginning. Fighting the panic, I asked myself, “What DO I know?” Well, after a minute, I realized that I was getting wet. “What do I see?” I see water coming from that thing that’s in the wall. So that is how I am getting wet. “Where would I be that would have water coming out of the wall getting me wet?” It took a couple of minutes, but it slowly cleared enough to know that I was in the shower. “OK, so how do I proceed?” That answer is the hardest to break through, but eventually I figured out that I had to stop the water, and figure out how to exit, how to dry off, and how to get dressed.
    Another example was the grocery store. Suddenly, the brain/thought-blocking fog took over. I had no idea where I was, what I was doing, or how to proceed. “What do I see?” I see rows of things. “What do I know about the things?” They are lined up side-by-side, and they have pictures and writing on them. “Where would I see rows and rows of things lined up with pictures and writing on them?” After a few minutes standing there fog-locked, I slowly remembered that is what they do in stores. “Start walking and see if anything tells me what store I am in.” Oh, there’s a sign, I am at Publix. “Ok, so how do I proceed?” I call a friend or family member to help me know what to do.
    One time I had a fire alarm go off in a restaurant room that I was in; having totally instantly shut down, one lady realized that she had to lead me outside, where within a while, the fog slowly lifted.
    I do not dare go by myself to places or take a bus because of this; and, of course, driving is not an option. I also made a 5″ square card to carry in my purses that on one side has a big red cross to show it has medical information on it and on the other side what is wrong with me, and what to do or not do for me.

  • Holly H.
    2 years ago

    Thank you, TheKimberly75, for your note. Yes, this is a very debilitating and life-altering thing to endure; and my neurologist, who has a stellar reputation and is a caring young physician, has kept up with MRIs and CT scans. Just in early summer, I had a CT of the head and neck. Due diligence has me excluding so much of what is normal to others in where they go, what they do, what I eat, watching TV, going to loud or echoing environments or where people are milling about, and the going out and about by myself.

  • TheKimberly75
    2 years ago

    I hope you have, or will, discuss these symptoms with your Doctor. To my mind, they’re very concerning and go beyond typical “brain fog” as I’ve known and understand it.
    My concern is something else is at play here and I think you should bring it up with your Doctor ASAP. Best wishes!

  • Candy
    2 years ago

    I very recently had a migraine that lasted for 7 days, and feel like I can really relate to this type of migraine. I lost days at work, did nothing but lie in a dark room for hours at a time, the housework got ignored, my family and friends were concerned for my well-being. It is a little bit like being kidnapped. And when I was able to return to my normal life, it was such a profound feeling of relief.

  • Louise U.K.
    2 years ago

    The part about ‘brain dog’s resonated with me, also the feeling that others should be able to see that I am being coerced. An accurate description of a confusing state

  • klexow1209
    2 years ago

    I have named one type of my migraines Jenkins, because it makes it much easier to swear at him.

  • Luna
    2 years ago

    What an apt description.

    “Hours or days later, the Kidnapper decides to let you go, and you end up back in the world, confused about how much time has passed and how many duties have been neglected. You feel like you’ve been living another existence—have your friends and loved ones been looking for you, or is it possible you’ve only been missing for a couple of hours that felt like weeks? You look around, blinded by the beautiful sunlit world, wondering how no one can sense that you’ve just come back from the edge.” or space travel.

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