A brain is flying out of a person's head as dark clouds of brain fog set in.

Brain Fog Feels Like Living In A Fever Dream

"Brain fog" has to be one of vaguest terms out there, and yet it's ubiquitous within the chronic illness community. "I had a bad brain fog day," someone will say in a support forum and about 20 people will say, "Me too!"

Brain fog is responsible for ruining about two years of my life — and I don't say this lightly. I've done the research on brain fog, only to learn that most medical pros don't even have a clear understanding of its mechanisms. I've also considered if I was overreacting, being lazy, not getting enough sleep, or calling it "brain fog" in order to blame my incompetence as a human being on something else, something medical.

When my brain fog was at its worst

Here's why: When I was working nine-to-five and commuting three and a half hours per day, my brain fog was at its absolute worst. I was in pain all the time, had no control over my schedule, and my inflammation was rampant. I honestly felt like my life had become a hamster wheel of hell.

I became a total zombie, walking through a haze every day, all day. At the office, I was not a good example of an employee, even though I deeply cared about my work. I'm sure my boss thought that I was reckless, thoughtless, and careless. It was like every time I identified something I did wrong or found an email I didn't respond to, my brain would say, "How did you forget that?! An ongoing roller coaster of "F*CCCCCCK!!!!"

I was exhausted, empty, apathetic, and confused — all at once. It was sort of like having an out of body experience; I could see myself struggling but I couldn't stop it. I made spreadsheets and to-do lists and stayed late, but nothing helped. I lived like this for months and months, an extended fever dream from which I couldn't escape.

Working in short bursts was even hard

I'd forget everything — little things, big things, whole chunks of my day, or portions of an assignment. I left words out of sentences CONSTANTLY (ahem; this is not a good look when you're literally a professional writer, lol).

If I worked for 45 minutes straight, I'd start to feel "scrambly," and oversaturated, as if my brain were a hard drive getting overheated. I would read things over and over and over again and none of the information would be absorbed. I read train times incorrectly. I'd get on the wrong trains. I was what they call a "hot mess express."

I'm not lazy, I have AS

I knew this was brain fog and not depression or laziness or a cognitive issue. I wasn't a lazy person. I wasn't depressed (although this experience made me feel sad). And I didn't get hit in the head nor did I experience brain injury. Once I was able to tend to my poor body and get out of the job, my brain returned to (mostly) normal.

I am generally a very "on-it" person, which is why brain fog sucked. I'm a bona fide overachiever. A creator. An on-the-go type. I'm the person who flies across the world to travel all alone. So when brain fog rendered me a big pile of cognitive mush, I felt a sense of loss.

What does brain fog feel like to you? How do you manage it?
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