Special thanks to all my Words With Friends buddies who play with me when the pain will not let me rest and patiently understand when the pain, fatigue, and fog keep me from playing. You know who you are...and you are all most dear to me! ~Meshea
In spite of having Fibromyalgia (FMS), I am still an intelligent, creative, expressive person with many ideas I want to develop into papers, books, blogs, etc. My biggest enemy is not the pain or the fatigue, however. What holds me back most of the time is Fibro Fog and the anxiety it causes. In fact, I can honestly say that, while the pain and fatigue have limited what I am able to do severely, it is really Fibro Fog that I find the hardest to cope with. The pain will ease up and the fatigue will lessen, eventually, and even those who do not believe in FMS understand pain and fatigue. Ah, but the Fog; that is a different story.
What is Fibro Fog?
For those of you new to FMS, it is that mental state you find yourself in which is literally like a "fog". It leaves you unable to find words you want to say or unable to say the words you want to say in the order you mean to say them. Simple things like making out bills, balancing your checkbook, checking your child's homework, making sure you have everything in your husband's lunchbox, etc. become overwhelming; you just cannot think through them!
What causes Fibro Fog?
As with all things fibro, who knows for sure? There are many theories. Of course, anytime one is fatigued, thought processes are affected. The many theories given by the experts start there and move on to the possibility of low blood sugar, inadequate neurotransmitters, etc.
How does Fibro Fog feel?
Whatever the cause, the best way I know to describe it like a heaviness in my head, usually accompanied by what feels like a band getting tighter and tighter around my head. I find myself unable to process what I am trying to do, to say what I am trying to say, or to keep up with my surroundings. People in stores or cars on the streets just seem to be rushing past me, and though I try to keep up mentally, I feel like I can only think and move in slow motion compared to the world around me.
When does Fibro Fog occur?
Whenever it wants to! Seriously, it is more apt to occur if you are in severe pain and/or are fatigued, but Fibro Fog is its own entity. It seemingly does not require anything else to exist; it just does.
The unpredictability of Fibro Fog, the mental limitations it brings, and my inability to do anything other than endure it until it passes are the reasons why I feel that Fibro Fog is the worst part of having FMS for me. Fibro Fog is the aspect that makes it unsafe for me to drive very far, or even at all. Fibro Fog is why I hate talking on the phone, taking care of business of any kind, or going to new doctors. Fibro Fog is the main reason I cannot be dependable, productive, support myself...it is what has most robbed me of myself. Pain and fatigue take away my vigor; Fibro Fog takes away my ability to communicate and function effectively.
I believe, at least for me, that this is what mostly causes my anxiety issues: the unpredictable, yet inevitable appearance of Fibro Fog. Fibro Fog is what I have been most angry about...what I am still angry about...when it comes to LIVING a fibroLIFE: I truly hate it.
Of late, it has been much worse for me. Not because the fog itself is any worse, but because I am trying harder to accomplish things in spite of it. It is a vicious cycle. I am a bit foggy, but I want to write. So I sit down to write, my head starts to hurt worse, the "band" around it feels tighter, the words get harder to find, the thoughts get harder to form, so I try a bit harder...and then my head hurt worse, the "band" around it feels even tighter... You get the picture.
This causes me to feel even less productive as a person than I already felt. This increases my anxiety. This increases my pain, thus the fatigue gets worse, and then the fog gets worse... Yet another vicious cycle!
I wish I could tell you I had the answers to this, but as usual, all I can tell you is the truth: There is no magic potion, no magic beans, no hocus pocus, etc. and do NOT believe anyone who tells you they have found "the cure"! All I have found that works is keeping life as simple as possible, keeping up with fibroBASICS such as adequate rest, hydration, nutrition, exercise, etc., perseverance, a positive attitude, being thankful and focusing on what I can do rather than what I cannot do, and humor! Thank God for humor! (Oh, and I must not forget, Words With Friends!)
I am so very sorry I do not have something magical for you, but I do hope my openness and honesty can help you in some way. Read this slowly and compare your own experiences with what I have shared here. Share this with your family and friends then discuss it calmly, openly, and honestly. Pass it along to those who may need to read it. Write to me about your own feelings and experiences with that hateful, unrelenting beast, Fibro Fog. Let the anger out, the sadness, and the feelings of loss. But, also, recommit to fibroBASICS and persevere, be positive and thankful, focus on what you can do, and add heavy, daily doses of humor into your life! (Oh, and you might want to try Words With Friends!)
Founder and Director, fibroLIFE