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Brain Fog Makes it Hard to Function

There are days I wonder how I made it through college while I was flaring. I have many memories of being hours deep into simple homework assignments, frustrated beyond belief. No amount of ibuprofen, online resources or silence could help me wrap my mind around my coursework. In the small hours of the night, I would silently cry while hunched over in pain, feeling incapable of learning. If you struggle to function with brain fog, you are not alone. For me, it’s one of the most overwhelming symptoms of psoriatic arthritis.

Brain fog isn’t occasionally forgetting your keys or the home phone number. It’s so much more intense. Brain fog makes you forget where you were going when you climbed in the car. It makes you forget the word ‘sugar’ and say, “the white stuff, like salt, but sweet.” And, oh my gosh, does it make problem-solving impossible.

The progression of brain fog

There are days I feel like I’m losing my mind. I question if I’ve lost IQ points. But worse of all, it makes me feel so insecure and down on myself. It makes me long for times when I wasn’t suffering as much. Back then, I was quick as a whip. My attention to detail was always flawless, and my vocabulary was extensive. I never forgot things either. It makes me feel so ashamed and disappointed that now, there are days where I struggle to remember what I did five minutes ago.

But even though things change, that person isn’t gone. Mind fog does not make you any less intelligent than you already were. You are not your pain brain; you are just dealing with a symptom of a disease you have, and that’s all.

Ways to cope with brain fog

It is hard to live with chronic pain. Think about it. Your brain is coping with so much already, processing both pain and your thoughts. It’s reasonable that when you’re flaring, it may not be able to give you top-notch results.

Take breaks when needed

Give yourself a break. And give your mind a break too. Your brain won’t perform better when you’re in pain, exhausted, and feel upset at yourself for not being able to complete the task flawlessly. If it is essential for something to be accurate, start early so you can take breaks to walk away, rest and decompress, and come back when you feel a little better.

It’s okay to ask for help

It’s also okay to ask for help. A professor in college once told me, “even professional writers need an editor,” and that helped me accept that we can all benefit from someone to check our work. It doesn’t make you any less reliable- it helps a lot and can help relieve stress.

Don’t be hard on yourself

And most important, forgive yourself. You are going through a lot; the last thing you need to do is be hard on yourself. Better yet, take it a step further and be proud of yourself. It’s not easy to function when you’re hurting! Try to feel happy with what you were able to get done and not worry about the rest.

Looking ahead: How to deal with brain fog

I’ve learned so much about coping with brain fog through college. While I still have days where I struggle, I know that I need to give myself breaks, make lists, and ask for help. And I also have to tell myself, “you can do this.” Believing in myself doesn’t make my flares magically go away, but it does help me feel less insecure. Brain fog is only a symptom of PsA- it is not a mark on my intelligence.

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

  • Jacquis59
    1 month ago

    My brain fog has caused me to lose my short term memory to the point that my job is at risk because I can’t remember tasks and procedures that I’ve just been trained on. It’s causing mistakes that are going to cost me my job.

  • Jake moderator
    4 weeks ago

    Thanks for sharing @jacquis59. Unfortunately, PsA symptoms impacting the ability to work has been discussed many times within the community. With that being said, you’re not alone. One place to start might actually be your doctor. Have you been able to talk with your doctor about the impact your PsA is having on your ability to work?

    – Jake, Psoriatic-Arthritis.com Team

  • BMK1
    2 months ago

    PsA and I have only been acquainted for about 4 years, but I am sure it was dropping hints that it was going to be an unwelcome guest many years before then. Brain fog along with fatigue are in my top 5 symptoms. It has and is affecting my work life and may be the cause of me retiring much sooner than I would like. But I haven’t given up with the fight yet. As long as I have more good days than fog days I intend to keep working.

  • Jake moderator
    3 weeks ago

    PsA does seem to ‘drop hints’ years before an official diagnosis comes along, @bmk1. I’m sad to hear that it has been affecting your work life recently, but so glad you are not giving up the fight. We’re here for you on this journey and thank you for sharing here!

    – Jake, Psoriatic-Arthritis.com Team

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