The Hardest Part of Battling Brain Fog

The Hardest Part of Battling Brain Fog

Those of us in the PsA community talk about brain fog a lot. But what is it, really? Why is brain fog so hard to deal with? Why does it make me feel so darn dumb ALL the time? At best it’s mildly annoying at worst it can even be dangerous. I joke a lot about brain fog but really, it drives me nuts!

There is some debate on whether brain fog is related to psoriatic arthritis or if it is more like a side effect of the various medications many of us take. I tend to personally believe that it is most likely a combination of both. But to be honest, I haven’t done a great deal of research on it, not that I’d be able to remember even if I did anyway.

Battling brain fog

I think everyone in the world has had to deal with brain fog at one time or another. Back before PsA, I used to call it medicine head. You know, that feeling you get when you have a cold, take medicine, and can’t seem to string together a simple sentence or complete a thought? That my friends, is brain fog. When you have something on the tip of your tongue but can’t seem to find the words? Brain fog. When you know you were doing something important, but can’t for the life of you remember what it was? Yep, brain fog struck again. But out of all of those things, that still isn’t what I really believe is the hardest part of living with brain fog.

I’m listening, I swear

I can have whole conversations with friends, be listening intently and focused on every word. Then, when I try and recall the details of the conversation, sometimes it is all so darn foggy that I probably couldn’t tell you more than 2 or 3 details of the whole conversation. Even this, while annoying to me, isn’t necessarily the hardest part.

The hardest part, in my opinion, is when my friends or family tell me something important to them. I hear them. I understand what they are saying, and the information is important to me. But then when I need to recall that information, for example, remember special dates or something fun they have planned, I can’t pull up the information. I ask again, then look like I didn’t care enough to remember in the first place. They think I don’t care about them, about things that matter to them, or about what they’ve shared with me. Because I live daily with brain fog, family and friends think that I don’t care, or care enough about them to simply remember what they tell me, when nothing could be further from the truth.

Possible solutions? Not so much

The only solution I have found for this, besides constantly apologizing, is taking notes. Jotting down dates, names, and events in shorthand. I used to make mental notes of things, like my own personal fil-o-fax, but that doesn’t work anymore. Scraps of paper, post it notes, and dry erase messages can be found all over my house and my van. The only problem with that is that then I can’t seem to remember where I wrote everything down.

So my new plan? One single notebook, with a page for each day. If only I can remember where I left it…

Do you have any great tips to fight brain fog?  Help a girl out, drop your comments below with anything that has (or hasn’t) worked for you. I’d love to hear!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Psoriatic-Arthritis.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (9)
  • Tas
    12 months ago

    I honestly never have heard a perfectly stated description of brain fog before. I have always thought that I entered into a mental decline that has yet landed. I wondered if I have early onset Alzheimers so I like the name “brain fog.” That somehow seems less sinister – even though it isn’t really. It is confidence sucking, totally demoralizing, long-term funny-land and I think there are very few people who suffer to the degree of which you refer and I concur.

    The part about people thinking we don’t care is all too true and frustrating. I sometimes call my grandkids by their sister or brother’s name by mistake and they look at me like I’m definitely not “all there” while their parents think I’m just to lame to pay attention and don’t realize how hurtful it is for their kids to be mixed up in Nanny’s head!

    As to forgetting important info, I forgot that my sister called me to tell me that her husband had cancer and would be starting chemo immediately! (You think that wasn’t a hard one to explain?) There have been so many other examples but I don’t especially enjoy reminiscing about them.

    It was good to hear your voice though – Now I just hope I will remember it!
    Blessings!

  • Amyell
    1 year ago

    What a great article! I have such a hard time coping with “brain fog”. I have to write down all my appts., things to do and such. It’s embarrassing because I used to have a knack for remembering everything. I love the notebook idea also!

  • diragsdale67
    1 year ago

    Yes, I have it so bad that I can’t even write. I can’t write text, like trying to write this. I used to be a halfway intelligent person but by reading my text you’d never know it. Does anyone else have trouble writing?

  • Tas
    12 months ago

    I do have trouble writing cursive and so I print. It’ not great but better than cursive. I also have a great deal of trouble spelling! It all does make you feel kinda dumb! Sorry, but it ‘s true. Hope things might improve for you!
    Blessings

  • Jude
    1 year ago

    I never heard of brain fog as associated with PSA. Relieved to know that’s what’s causing the problems you described–listening to but not retaining conversation details; missing appointments. I get appt. cards and either forget to put them on the calendar or if I do, forget to look at the calendar. I’ve even showed up for an appt. on the wrong date!

  • Lirael
    1 year ago

    I now keep appointments/reminders on a paper calendar for sharing with husband as well as on smart phone with alarms. For the other things your article mentions, e.g. others’ significant stories, or even journaling your symptoms for the next appointment with rheumatologist, I use tools such as One Drive or One Note as they are stored in the cloud, are accessible from multiple devices and are not easily lost. This year, I plan to make a scrapbook for each adult child of their first 18 years so will be asking for stories from the extended family on their memories as well. I looked through a scrapbook I made 10 years ago of my own childhood and found I had little recollection of about half the info I had put in!!!

  • imschmarte
    1 year ago

    Great post!! I have had this problem for at least 10 years, and I always attributed it to all the drugs I have taken for my auto-immune diseases in the last 25-30 years. I called it my ‘brain dead’ moments, not even realizing there was a name for it. When I found out others had this too, it was wonderful! Not that it happens to others, but that it is not JUST me! I have found that it helps me to keep everything either on notes, post it notes on my computer or calendar on my phone. I like that because on the calendar I can have an alarm go off one hour, or one day before my appointment, party, etc. So I can’t forget it. But I enjoyed your post immensely! Thanks for posting!

  • ehleyla
    1 year ago

    Thanks so much for this article! At times — I thought I was going crazy with this brain fog! I agree that most people do not understand and think you are not listening or do not care! The single notebook thing is a great idea. We also have a dry erase board in the kitchen to write things on.

    I have a lot of trouble remembering things I have to do, so I started a WEEKLY to-do list. I always end up adding to it, but on Mondays I try to write everything down — house work, appointments, etc. I even write down my exercise and then cross it off. It really helps my sense of accomplishment and gives me the urge to do some more!

  • lisrael
    1 year ago

    So glad to find I am not alone with this issue! I’ve had so many conversations lately and could not remember a word, just on the tip of my tongue yet out of my reach!

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