My Personal Review of Unrest.

I have just watched the film Unrest. What an incredibly powerful and moving film. I’m not going to lie, it was very upsetting for me to watch, it’s like she’s telling my story. I have been through almost everything she documents in the film. Although my health is starting to improve, the memories of how bad I was 4 years ago are still very raw. Her thoughts were my thoughts ‘I really don’t want to die but it’s very hard to call this living’

Unrest tells the story of Jennifer Brea, and others like her (myself included), who are stricken with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis). People suffer from ME to varying degrees. Some get better with time. Some are bedridden for years, their lives effectively stolen by an illness that is not fully understood, nor taken seriously by many medical professionals.

The film starts with some disquieting images, from home video footage which document the struggles faced by Jennifer. It then opens up to show other victims of the disease. She goes online in search of answers and stumbles across a whole community of people just like her, all with their own stories to tell about life with this debilitating illness.

Jennifer initially began filming to demonstrate the seriousness of her symptoms to her doctors, but the end result of her video diary is an incredibly moving and powerful work.
Unrest is visually stunning and it sympathetically tells the story of fellow ME sufferers. It strikes a perfect balance between the factual and the emotional. It acts as an educational tool and it should be compulsory viewing for all medical professionals. It discusses the pressure put on relationships and the lack of understanding from the medical world. But rather than being depressing it has a positive and empowering message. ‘We will not be ignored, we will not be forgotten. I am still here’

I urge everyone to watch Unrest especially if you know someone who suffers from ME. It will give you a greater understanding of what it’s like to live with ME and it may help you offer support to your loved ones. I know it can be frustrating caring for someone with a chronic illness as it’s hard to know how you can help but the most powerful words you can say to someone who has an invisible illness are ‘I believe you’

I would personally like to thank Jennifer Brea for turning the camera on herself at her most vulnerable time, it must have taken a lot of courage. Her bravery has given a voice to the ‘forgotten one’s’, trapped in their own living hell, in darkened rooms isolated from the rest of the world. Now it has been documented on film, I hope we, the ME community, will finally be believed and taken seriously. I feel hopeful for the future.

#MEawareness #Unrest #CFS

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What is brain fog?

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?

#Brainfog #ME #Fibromyalgia

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