Fibromyalgia ME/CFS Symptoms: Brain Fog

In Blog by Alyssa Reid0 Comments

Firstly, I want to tell you that my husband is amazing in every way.  Patient, kind, giving, compassionate and a good masseuse, to boot. But today when my brain fog hit new depths he was frustrated with me. I was frustrated with me. Those of us with chronic pain, fibromyalgia and ME/CFS know brain fog all too well…

I Don’t Get It

‘How can you not get it?!’, husband asks/demands.  ‘If you don’t understand how to  research for a keyword now, out of all these courses and YouTube videos you have watched, then I give up!’.

Not exactly the words you want to hear, when you already know full well that the question you asked, ‘How do I research this?’ is beyond basic. But I just couldn’t figure it out this morning.  I was close to tears.  I know it’s basic!  I know I have watched tons of stuff about this.  But obviously nothing sank in – at least not today it didn’t.

Information Overload

The other day I was watching a video on how to do something that millions of others are already doing – effortlessly.  Yet I didn’t get it.  The instructor had a thick Singapore accent and it was too much for me to actually take in what he was showing needed to be done and understand what he was saying.  To top it off, what he was showing on the screen was not showing the same things in the same spots on my screen.  I couldn’t figure it out.

I actually had to leave the room, go outside, cry and attempt to breathe.  Meanwhile, my husband, an IT whiz (who is self-taught), thinks that I am probably extremely dim-witted.  Heck, I am thinking the same thing.

We are constantly bombarded with so much stuff these days – online and in our daily lives.  It’s hard to stop it from happening.

Coping with all this stuff – on top of struggling with pain, fatigue, sleep issues and much more is not easy.  No wonder our brains feel fried at times!

I Tried Explaining…

After spending a few minutes attempting to get to grips with my new levels of brain fog (I also want to state that I overdid it on the weekend and was in a world of pain – and as we know, severe pain and lack of sleep means increased brain fog), I tried explaining to him in a different way…

‘You know when you decide to cook and follow a recipe? Something that takes  you a long time to follow through on and you constantly ask me questions because something isn’t clear to you? Well, that’s how I am with all this computer stuff. I am trying my best but just don’t get a lot of it.’

(I also want to point out that me and anything technological is a dangerous mix.  I try to stick to the basics like email, Facebook, Word.  But no matter what I do, I screw computers, tablets and smartphones up.  To an irreparable level.  Seriously. Which makes me scared of pressing anything I shouldn’t -because ultimately doing this kind of reckless behaviour equals hours of husband trying to clean up the mess I have made.)

I came close in saying to him that unfortunately, he needs to deal with this and me like I have a learning disability.  I didn’t say this, but it is exactly what it feels like to me when dealing with level of fog, tbh.

You are Frustrated With Me…?!

…You can’t imagine how frustrated I am with me!

Losing words, train of thought, not understanding basic things and doing stupid things (that can result in accidents – let alone misplacing or putting things in the wrong spots) sometimes feels endless. And scary.  And upsetting.  And soul destroying.

It’s like you aren’t just attempting to get through the day and night in pain- but now you feel like you are losing your mind on top of it all.  And it sucks!

What’s Really Going On?

Well,  additional stress is going on for me/us at the moment.  So a lot of stuff is going on in my head.  Then there is the flare-up in pain and lack of sleep.  Diet is not great either at the moment – eating a lot of prepared/frozen meals – which I know is bad, but they are easy and cheap and lack nutrition completely. So my/our good nutrition has gone down the drain at the moment.

Side note:  I had to laugh the other day when I saw the wording on the box of frozen chicken kiev ‘Made with water for added succulence’.  How funny is that?  They are actually using the water as a selling point! Sheesh!

We all know that stress = pain, brain fog and other symptoms.  (Check out the 200+ symptoms of fibromyalgia, CFS/ME here).  But what can we do about it?

What To Do About It

I think the first thing any of us should do is to be kind to ourselves and love ourselves.  I think that we are really good at being high achievers and expect a lot from ourselves (and everyone else in our lives…) and when we don’t get the results we expect, we beat ourselves up.

I wrote an article about fibromyalgia and Type A personalities here if you are interested in finding out how many of us are this personality type and how we put even more stress on ourselves. Many people with fibro are also Type A personalities!

Here are some good ideas to help reduce stress  and brain fog:

-Go for a 10 minute walk if you can – It raises your endorphins and makes you feel good

Write a letter/email- I think that putting something in writing to express what is going on with us and how it affects us is a good thing.  I always use the ‘sandwich’ approach – Start off with the good stuff ie.  I love you because xyz.  Then put the stuff in the middle that you need to talk about. No blaming.  No finger pointing.  Nobody will ever understand what you are going through so having an expectation of someone to ‘get you’ – well, they never will.

However, providing them insight as to what you are going through, what it is like, how it makes you feel, allows the person you are discussing things with more knowledge of your experience.

End on a positive note.  Something like, ‘I appreciate all the amazing things you do/are.  I know we can get through this, I appreciate how frustrating I am to you and really am so grateful for your patience with me’ etc etc.

For me, I always think of things to say AFTER the fact when speaking.  Writing a letter allows us to take our time in thinking things through properly without the need to respond in immediate dialogue.

Meditate – There are tons of wonderful meditations available – for free – on YouTube.  I listen to ones all through the day playing along in the background and an 8hr sleep meditation for health and abundance.  My biggest issue is settling my mind down to listen and concentrate!  But I figure trying to do this is better than nothing!  If a few things sink in, then great!

Laughter is the Best Medicine – Throwing on a movie or reading a book that makes us laugh can only be a good thing (except when it hurts to laugh, of course!).

Do Something You Love – Or Try Something New!  What about trying out an adult colouring book for relaxation and calmness?  I know I love mine (until my hands go numb!). Check this one out for calmness:

Live in Gratitude – Focusing on the positive and good things in our life goes a long way in making us feel better.  And when we feel good, we reduce our stress.  And when we reduce our stress, our pain levels and brain fog (and other symptoms) tend to be reduced as well.

When I wake up in the morning I go through all the things I am grateful for.  The cup of tea made with clean water, the roof over our head, my friends and family, the beautiful flowers outside my window…

I do the same when I go to bed.  I also set alarms on my phone with reminders of positive things, such as, ‘I am happy, healthy and live in abundance’.

Want to Feel Good?

We might not have control over our pain and other symptoms, but we DO have control of our thoughts and attitude. For more tips on feeling good mentally, check out this blog.

One of my favourite people, who is an amazing author about living a life of abundance and positivity is Pam Grout.  Her book E Squared is amazing! 9 experiments to prove the Universe exists.  And it’s fun to do and easy to read!

Here’s some more tips on brain fog.

In Conclusion

Well, in a nutshell, brain fog sucks!  But we do have some options on how to cope better, reduce stress, take a different attitude in life, inform others (positively) what we are going through and so much more.

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