Brain fog is a brutal symptom of ME and POTS, and one of the hardest things to explain. But I’m going to try anyway. Using a brick wall instead of fog.
Imagine a massive brick wall has been built on top of a piece of information that you really need.
Now imagine yourself pushing that brick wall as hard as you physically can, in the hope of moving it – until your entire body is utterly exhausted from the exertion and your muscles are in agony. Then, desperately weak, you slump down to the ground in defeat – wall still standing, and you … still minus that really important piece of information.
That is how my brain feels when I’m brain fogged.
Need to access the words to write a relevant sentence about myself when filling out a simple form? No chance. Need to engage in a conversation whereby I actually retain, understand, and can recall from memory what the other person literally just said seconds ago – let alone respond to it appropriately? You’ve gotta be kidding me. Do I spend half my life faking keeping up with people when they’re speaking to me? Hell yes.
Implications For Daily Life
Most people are oblivious when it’s happening to me, as I’ve become pretty good at faking normality in conversations (ie., I make all the right noises in all the right places, despite my brain having zoned out in favour of crawling under a blanket on a foggy hilltop somewhere in the middle of nowhere). It’s only when I need to properly concentrate on something being said that my mask crumbles like a short crust pastry, exposing my entirely confused and vacant filling, leaving me feeling embarrassed as the other person looks at me, confused. Usually, because they’re confused about why I’m so confused.
In conversations with Pete (my partner), I will keep pushing myself to my absolute limits to try and communicate effectively and make sense of what he’s saying. It rarely ends well. The only way my brain knows how to admit defeat when the extreme brick wall pressure I place on it to access the information underneath becomes too much – is by making me cry. Involuntarily. So, not only can I not access, retain or produce information like a normal person … I’m also left crying against my will from the sheer exertion of trying. My efforts are often rewarded afterwards with a massive fuck-off headache, followed the next day by increased fatigue.
It’s not all bad though. Ignorance can be bliss depending on the person and the topic
If you suffer from brain fog, how would you describe it?