Brain Fog, Fatigue, and Pain: Confessions of a Chronically Ill Blogger

I’ve decided to start a monthly series here on Flawed, Messy Life. It’s called Confessions of a Chronically Ill Blogger, and I’ll share some of the challenges I face and how I deal with them. I’d like the share my journey of making my dream come true with all of you.

 

I’ve mentioned before that I have fibromyalgia, inflammatory arthritis, dysautonomia, depression and anxiety (generalized and social). Today I want to discuss how these affect me as a blogger. Since they have many overlapping symptoms that are the main issues, I decided to cover it by symptom rather than by condition.

Brain Fog

This is my most common problem. Even when everything else is behaving, brain fog is a frequent issue. Brain fog is a symptom of quite a few different conditions, and it goes along with all of mine. It really is foggy thinking or mental cloudiness as these pictures describe.

What is brain fog? It's trouble with concentraion, being easily distracted, word recall, and more.Brain Fog: Mental Cloudiness: confused, distracted

Brain fog for me is seeing the word or thought in my head and not having the capacity to verbalize or decipher it. I know it's there. I know what it is. I just can't reach it...Chronic "on the tip of my tongue" -Stephanie Becker-Wright
This quote on brain fog is fantastic. I’d describe it the same way.

You need ideas and words put together somewhat intelligently to compose a blog post. That isn’t an easy task with brain fog. Finding the right word for common objects is a challenge some days. I’ve lost the word for potholder, tea, cup, notebook, and many other simple objects before. I will again. Now imagine trying to get more complex ideas out of your head and onto paper. It just isn’t going to happen some days.

This is a huge hurdle when writing a blog. Of course I would rather be prepared for the times my brain fog drags out for days. To do so, I do as much writing as I can on my good days. I might manage to get 2-3 weeks of posts done in one week. This can help so I either don’t miss posting, or only miss one day if things get pretty bad. I also keep ideas ready that take minimal planning and brain power. Thankfully, I have awesome readers who understand when those tricks aren’t quite enough.

Fatigue

This is the next largest problem. Being able to think clear isn’t much good if you can’t stay awake. Fatigue is not the same as being tired. It is feeling like you are moving through cement. When you suffer from fatigue, you feel weighed down, like gravity is higher in your vicinity.

Defining Fatigue: Pathological and Psychological fatigue: The North American Nursing Diagnosis Association definition of fatigue is: "The self-recognized state in which an individual experiences an overwhelming sustained sense of exhaustion and decreased capacity for physical and mental work that is not relieved by rest."
A good definition of fatigue.
Fatigue Scale
This shows how fatigue and the resulting brain fog can vary.

Fatigue means I will suddenly not be able to stay awake. I have no choice in the matter. A nap will happen.

Nap Attack: They Can Happen at Any ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

I’ll still manage some writing if this is my only problem. It might not be something new, but I can type up a draft already written up in my notebook, or I’ll proofread and add on to a first draft saved on the computer. I try to manage at least a little progress on these days.

Pain

While pain can bring on fatigue and brain fog, on its own pain is actually the easiest symptom for me to deal with. Brain fog and fatigue are all-consuming and demand your attention. Pain, I can distract myself from.

With some pain pills, music, or just writing a blog post I can many times find some tactics, or a combination of them, to distract myself and accomplish something. Again, the only works if the pain hasn’t worn me out already and caused the fatigue and brain fog to set in.

So, those are the three main obstacles I have as a chronically ill blogger. My posting schedule has to work around my brain fog, fatigue, and pain. It’s an extra challenge, but I feel it is worth it. My anxiety and depression are different animals, and I’ll address them in another post in this series.

Much love to you all and thank you for being a part of this.

The author's name, Leigh, in red script, to the left with a coffee cup to the right.

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Pain Is Not A Competition

“Pain is not a competition. Just because someone, somewhere may have had worse in their life, it doesn’t excuse or erase your pain.” 

Pain is not a competition. Just because someone, somewhere may have had worse in their life, it doesn't excuse or erase your pain.

This quote has meant so much to me over the past couple of years. I feel it applies to everyone, no matter what kind of physical, mental, or emotional pain they may have.

Pain is pain

If you are affected by depression, anxiety, or any other mental illness, you may have a tendency to feel your condition isn’t as bad compared to other people. In fact, I had no idea how bad my depression had gotten this last time. I slowly got used to the “new normal” of each decline farther into depression, and compared myself to others who I saw as “worse off”. Given those goal posts, I just didn’t think my depression was that bad. People struggling with mental illness or emotional pain can also feel their struggles aren’t important because they are told so. Have you been told to suck it up, because others are worse off? The fact is, everyone’s feelings and thoughts matter. Even though there may be people worse off, it doesn’t negate your struggle.

People with chronic pain or illnesses find themselves in the same position. Their friends and/or family, not to mention society, are not very supportive. So many people in this position are demoralized by being told their pain isn’t enough. They are told to “suck it up” because someone else judges their condition to not be severe enough.

It isn’t an exclusive membership

As a member of both groups, I’m telling you that your pain counts even if you aren’t in either group.  The only person you should ever compare yourself to is yourself. Even then, sometimes you should just focus on how you feel in the moment. If you think it is bad, then it is, and you should have compassion for yourself, and care for yourself.

This is why comparing pain can be so detrimental to your health. If it leads you to putting off care, that is a bad thing. Please don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Your health and happiness is important. It is just as important as the next person.

Do you have a quote that means a lot to you, or has gotten you through hard times? Please feel free to share in the comments. I would love to hear from you. ❤

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