“Brain fog is not a medically recognized term but is a commonly used phrase that sums up feelings of confusion, forgetfulness, and lack of focus and mental clarity.” From the article “Brain Fog: Causes, Symptoms, Solutions,” by Deane Alban, on the “Be Brain Fit” website (https://bebrainfit.com/brain-fog-causes-symptoms-solutions/).
Seems I’ve lived in a fog for so long I don’t recall what it’s like to be fully clear-headed. Causes of what doctors call “brain fog” include chronic pain (got it), depression (got it), anxiety (not so much me, but close family members), medication side effects (again, not me, since I stopped taking narcotic pain meds, but many family members), and more.
“Because of the mental energy it takes to be in a constant state of stress, worry, or depression, these conditions can naturally make you may feel more confused, listless, or mentally drained.” From the article, “7 Causes of Brain Fog (And How To Fix It)” on the “Get Healthy U” website (https://gethealthyu.com/7-causes-of-brain-fog-and-how-to-fix-it/).
This article lists some of the symptoms of brain fog:
- difficulty concentrating
- low energy or motivation
- trouble sleeping through the night
Wow, I seriously struggle with all these.
If you can also relate, you know how infuriating it is. I can remember an argument I had with my sister from 40 years ago about why her Ken doll didn’t deserve to be in the same toy box with my G.I. Joe’s, but can’t remember to clock out before I leave work. I can recall the time my high school friend Kurt got drunk at the local fair, and I had to drive him home (9 miles in first speed, since I didn’t know how to drive a standard), but can’t remember to stop at the store and get bread on the way home. Confusion, forgetfulness, fatigue? Check…check…check.
Living in this fog makes you feel like you want to go back to bed for about three weeks.
If you don’t struggle with this, perhaps you’ve seen some of the same symptoms in someone you love. If so, I would encourage you to do some research on it, and then bring some suggestions to them for getting help. This article lists the following possible tools for coping with brain fog:
- meditation (to this I would add “prayer”)
- cross-word puzzles
- daily exercise
- learning a new language
- playing an instrument
The piece also lists some foods which might help.
I can tell you from personal experience that meditation helps. I know many people think of meditation as sitting on the floor with your legs crossed, eyes closed, chanting for an hour. While that may be the way some meditate, it’s not the way I do it. For me, “meditation” means staying in my office during lunch, closing the door, turning the lights out, leaning back in my chair and propping my feet up, putting my fan on, covering up with a blanket and listening to relaxing music for an hour. I’ve been doing this for a couple years now, and while I’ve only fallen asleep maybe twice, just the meditation itself helps me get through the afternoon.
It’s incredibly rejuvenating.
Regarding why I struggle with it, besides pain, I’m sure me being overweight and not eating healthy probably exacerbates the issue. I’ve seen the same look of fog and fatigue on the faces of friends and family. We try and cover it up by making jokes like, “I’d lose my head if it wasn’t attached.” But living in this fog isn’t funny, it’s exhausting and annoying.
It’s like trying to run in the water, or swim in quicksand. It’s as if your mind is constantly worn out and bewildered. For me, it’s an almost constant headache, and sometimes even blurry vision. Sometimes I take ibuprofen for it, which occasionally helps, but I don’t like being dependent on it, so it’s not part of my daily routine.
If you are close to someone who struggles with brain fog, I’d like to encourage you to be patient with them. I know from personal experience that it makes you feel as if the entirety of your existence is being carried out in a vat of sludge. You move and think slower, don’t sleep well and are constantly tired.
Be tolerant of us, please. We don’t choose to be this way, it just is.
As for me, I’ve gotten back to drinking lots of water, and trying to exercise. I’ve only been walking the stairs and around the office at work, but you have to start somewhere, right?
So keep your chin up, do your best, and remember my motto:
Never give up, never give in, never surrender!!!!