Two brains are shown with light switches. One brain is turned on and has a happy face on the switch while the other is turned off with clouds surrounding it and a sad face.

Trying To Explain My Brain Fog

Brain fog is hard to put into words.

Today when I got home from work, I tried to unlock my house door with my car fob. I pushed the little unlock button and waited to hear the click of the lock. Instead, I realized I’d unlocked the car I had locked only moments ago.

The other day, I found a mango in the fridge and ate it. It was delicious.

The thing is, the day before that my girlfriend had grabbed said mango off the counter, looked at me, and said, “I’m going to put this mango in the drawer in the fridge so I can have it for a snack after work tomorrow.”

I didn’t recognize the mango as the same one I saw on the counter the previous day. I don’t know, I guess I thought the mango fairy had paid us a visit overnight.

I was in a subliminal haze.

My symptoms

Brain fog is an apt name for it. It’s a mental fuzziness, a cerebral unclarity, but that is only one of the symptoms I experience.

It’s like I’m constantly distracted no matter how hard I try and focus. I will fail to notice obvious and important details. I struggle to think of basic words in conversation to the point at times I briefly develop a stutter.

Other times I will become temporarily clumsy, and my hands will shake causing me to drop easy-to-hold items or spill food while eating or cooking.

It’s the most aggravating aspect I have to cope with living with AxSpA because it diminishes some of the things I like best about myself.

I lose my quick wit, my memory and attention to detail are imperative in the way I make a living. I take pride in ever enriching my lexicon.

Causation

It’s difficult to pinpoint what brings on brain fog, but for me, it is usually accompanied by a spike in pain. Fatigue is involved too. I very rarely get impacted mentally when I’m not also impacted by another AxSpA symptom.

How I cope

I just breathe. The frustration is more difficult to manage than the physical symptoms.

The most underrated skill I’ve learned from doing yoga is ujjayi breathing because it helps to calm the mind by focusing on breathing. I thought it was a silly exercise to do at first, but it has become something I rely on.

I make lists. To-do lists, grocery lists, appointments, whatever I might forget I write it down.

I bought more mangoes and my girlfriend labeled them “mine, hers, mine, hers.”

It was tongue in cheek and made me laugh, but it’s an exaggerated example of how I approach my days now.

At times it feels like overkill, but it’s a better alternative than the frustration and embarrassment of forgetting something obvious and important.

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