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Since I have named my blog ‘A Journey Through the Fog’ I thought I’d better spend a few minutes explaining what brain fog is for those who don’t already know.

Brain fog, also commonly known as brain fatigue, mental fog or fibro fog, can be a mild to severe episode of mental confusion that can strike without warning. When this occurs, it is common to experience a lack of focus, poor memory recall and reduced mental acuity. My brain fog is caused by fatigue, stress and anxiety. It can make even the simplest tasks very challenging.

I’ve always been able to rely on my brain. My thoughts were clear, my memory and problem solving skills were particularly sharp. But when I developed ME that all changed.

It’s like trying to see your thoughts through thick fog. You know what you want to say but can’t formulate a sentence or find the right words to explain yourself. You often come out with completely unrelated words which make no sense. Although this can have hilarious consequences, it is extremely frustrating and at times, embarrassing and isolating. You feel stupid and that can knock your confidence too.

You know when your alarm wakes you up from a deep sleep; for a few moments you feel dazed and disoriented? Where I am? What time is it? What day is it? You feel groggy and it’s hard to think straight. Brain fog feels like that all the time. Or when you are hungover after a particularly eventful night of drinking. Your friends start saying; “Do you remember when you did…? Or “I can’t believe you said…” To begin with you have no recollection of the events they are talking about, but slowly a hazy memory comes into view.

Brain fog can be very frustrating  and trying to think through the fog can be painful and exhausting.

When you suffer from brain fog everyday is a challenge. You’ll be convinced you have done something, but you haven’t. You will put salt in your coffee, milk in the freezer and cereal in the fridge. You’ll walk into a room and completely forget why you went there. You will reply to the wrong person’s text or the wrong post on Facebook. Making even the most basic decisions like, what shall I eat? or what should I wear?, will seem like an impossible task. You’ll forget people’s names, and on really bad days, lose the ability to formulate a sentence or carry out a conversation. The simplest addition will look like the most complex mathematical equation. You will read the same paragraph 5 times and still have no clue what the author is talking about. You’ll forget how to spell simple words like author (Yes, I just had to rely on spell check to spell author) You will forget your address, telephone number and email address and quite possibly your own name.

Instinct tells you to fight through the Fog but I’ve learnt from experience it’s better to just accept it, laugh about it and try again later. Ever find yourself searching for a word, name, memory or fact but the more you try the further away you seem to be from finding it? Often once you stop searching it comes to you with no effort. I’ve found brain fog works like that, just relax and accept it.

I find the best way to overcome these challenges is to be very organised. I write lists, use post it notes and stick to strict routines. I use a voice recorder to note my thoughts and everything has its place, so I always know where to find things when I need them. I have a list of names, telephone numbers and addresses on my mobile (even my own). I take tablets the same time everyday and set reminders if anything changes. I know all this sounds boring but it definitely helps reduce the frustration caused by brain fog.

What are your experiences with brain fog? How do you overcome these challenges?

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