Coping with Brain Fog {a #chronicallywell post}

31daysButtonBrain fog is one of the most annoying and frustrating symptoms of lupus I have dealt with.  I hear from friends living with other chronic illnesses, including fibromyalgia and MS, deal with this as well.  There is no one definitive cause of brain fog, according to the medical professionals I have discussed it with.  It is believed to have many contributing factors including medication interactions, abnormal blood flow to the brain, anxiety and depression.  If you have experienced brain fog, you don’t really care what is causing or exacerbating it. You just want to think normally again.

What is brain fog? For those of you not familiar with the term, I like this description from about.com:

Symptoms of brain fog can range from mild to severe.  They frequently vary from day to day, and not everyone has all of them. Symptoms include:

  • Word use & recall: Difficulty recalling known words, use of incorrect words, slow recall of names.
  • Short-term memory problems: Forgetfulness, inability to remember what’s read or heard.
  • Directional disorientation: Not recognizing familiar surroundings, easily becoming lost, having trouble recalling where things are.
  • Multitasking difficulties: Inability to pay attention to more than one thing, forgetfulness of original task when distracted.
  • Confusion & trouble concentrating Trouble processing information, easily distracted.
  • Math/number difficulties: Difficulty performing simple math, remembering sequences, transposing numbers, trouble remembering numbers.

{source}

If you have dealt with any of the above, you have probably wondered if you were losing your mind or suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s.  Brain fog is often a symptom people don’t discuss with their physician or even friends and family.  It is important to talk about it and let your medical professional know.  Let your family know so they can help create solutions.

I spent many years as a professional organizer and have found some of the tools from that trade helpful when I am struggling with brain fog.  They include:

  • A place for everything and everything in it’s place.  You will struggle less to find your keys if you make it a habit to return your keys to the same spot each day.
  • Stick to a routine.  Sometimes a daily routine can seem route and boring.  But trust me, on the days when you feel lost in your own skin that routine will be your saving grace.
  • Write it down.  Whether you keep notes using an app on your smart phone or you carry a small notebook with you at all times, write things down.  Refer frequently to make sure you haven’t forgotten something important.  Set reminders on your phone or email to alert you {and give you 1/2 hr to an hour notice} that you have an appointment or deadline coming up.

Above all, cut yourself some slack.  You aren’t crazy!  Brain fog is a legitimate issue that many people with chronic illness struggle with.  Thankfully, it ebbs and flows so not every day is a bad day.

Do you struggle with brain fog?  How do you cope?

 

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