Chances are if you are reading this article, then yep, you do have what is termed as ‘FibroFog’ of ‘BrainFog’ or are trying to help someone else who is experiencing this.
What Is Fibro Fog/Brain Fog?
-Loss of concentration
-Doing silly things that are in part of your daily routine (milk in the cupboard, making a cup of tea and forgetting about it…I could go on!)
-Getting easily confused (like not getting a plot line in a tv show or movie…or better yet -forgetting you have seen a movie and your spouse tells you all about it, including where we watched it…).
-Not feeling alert, spaced out
-Forgetting things (Including where I wrote down a reservation number and hotel – so I had to cancel my credit card!), let alone walking into a room and forgetting why I was there!
-Becoming easily distracted
-Difficulty carrying out conversations (I find that I am interrupting people – because if I don’t, I will forget!!! A horrible habit, but it’s a horrible thing not remembering!)
-Short term memory loss (I literally downloaded a picture for this post less than 5 minutes ago – do you think I could remember what I titled it in order to find it?!)
How FibroFog Affected Me
My work (in another lifetime) was constantly dealing with clients over the phone and in person – and doing high end financial deals. In other words, sales as well as constant client communications.
All was well when I was writing an email or letter and I had time to read over what I had written, make corrections, get the correct wording etc…but I progressively got worse and worse in regards to having phone conversations.
Bye Bye Sanity…
There’s nothing worse than being on an important (and potentially life changing) sales call and in the middle of speaking you lose your train of thought. Or words. Bye bye sale! Bye bye sanity!
Top that off with being hypersensitive to noises and people around me (we had an open space office and having people talking on the phone or in the office was enough to shatter my concentration).
At this point in time, when I was working (and running our family business), I didn’t know that I had fibromyalgia. Things got progressively worse in regards to pain after experiencing whiplash from a car accident. But until I was diagnosed and started delving into educating myself about his condition (and the 200+ coexisting conditions that come with it).
I Felt Like My World Was Falling Apart
I would argue up and down with my husband that I had told him something and he would tell me I hadn’t. And vice versa – he would tell me he had told me something – of which I had no recollection.
It was SCARY. I seriously thought that I was losing the plot. At age 38 I thought I had early onset Alzheimer’s. Seriously.
In the end, I was unable to continue working because I simply wasn’t able to cope with the stress of losing my train of thought when on the phone…not to mention losing my train of thought when on the phone itself.
You’re Not Alone
Many people with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME/SEID) and even chronic pain find themselves questioning their mental health (and sanity).
You’re not alone in thinking that your memory has gone to pieces. In fact it is very common for people with these conditions to have brain fog/fibrofog.
A lot of this may boil down to the one thing many of us struggle with when we are in pain – sleep. Without getting a good, rested night’s sleep –
and on a daily basis – our brains start to struggle.
Without obtaining a restorative sleep (waking up through the night or insomnia itself) we start losing our mental sharpness, ability to think more clearly, concentrate, remember things and more.
And when your sleep pattern has been really screwed up and for a long time, no wonder we are losing our mental clarity!
Sleep is a HUGE issue when it comes to fibromyalgia, CFS/ME/SEID and chronic pain. Getting comfortable and feeling relaxed in order to get a good sleep is many times easier said than done.
For many of us, our muscles are so tight and tense that just being able to relax and drift off without disturbance is, well, a dream!
In fact, some rheumatologists who specialize in fibromyalgia believe that it is actually a sleep disorder that ultimately affects the central nervous system, brain function, increased pain and much more.
Struggling to Sleep?
Although there are numerous reasons for not being able to get a good sleep – from stress to pain and being uncomfortable…one of the culprits might actually be your medication(s).
For me, after years and years of insomnia and waking up (if I slept at all) an average of 14x a night (I tracked my sleep, pain and other symptoms on my FibroMapp App and it wasn’t until my doctor saw my report and my major sleep issues I was experiencing to make her realise that yep, I had a serious issue going on!
Medications Affecting Sleep
One of the main medications being used to help with sleep is called Amitriptyline (Elavil). Although I am doing my best at cutting out prescriptions that aren’t working for me, after being put on Amitriptyline I started to finally sleep – sometimes right through the night! I also stopped using one of the main pain killing prescriptions.
This particular medication (which was knocking me out to start with) has a side effect of insomnia! I never would have guessed it if I hadn’t decided (with my doctor’s assistance) to stop using this medication as I felt it wasn’t of any benefit anymore.
Sleep and Fibromyalgia
Some very interesting studies have shown that there are different things going on in the brains of people with fibro. In fact, in one study the brain scans showed that people with fibro sometimes have an issue in not receiving enough oxygen to different parts of their brain.
One of the potential reasons for this is that our central nervous system is out of whack – which is causing changes in the brain’s blood vessels.
I guess you could say that in regards to fibro fog, it really is all in our heads!
Chronic Pain and Sleep
Further research has shown that chronic pain may affect the brain. An MRI found that in people with chronic pain, that a frontal region of the brain that is mostly associated with emotion – is constantly active. In fact, these areas fail to shut off when they should, exhausting neurons and disturbing the balance of the brain as a whole.
I think that firstly, it is imperative to know that chances are you do not have dementia setting in. Knowing you are not alone and that most people with chronic pain, fibromyalgia and CFS/ME/SEID have experiences of fibro fog/brain fog.
Although it can be scary, upsetting and frustrating, try to laugh at it. (I at least think this is a good thing…otherwise I think I would cry!).
Why not read my Tips For Dealing with Fibro Fog/Brain Fog to help?