Memory Issues and Fibromyalgia

Memory Issues and Fibromyalgia

finding balance

I used to take great pride in the fact that I had a sharp memory. I was the go-to person at work because I had a knack for remembering every little detail.

Fast forward 10 years, and I have trouble remembering names of friends and family. Spelling has become a huge issue for me. How can I forget to spell common words? I can’t tell you how thankful I am for spellcheck.

I feel like all that I do is fall more and more behind because I can’t remember what I must do. I’m overdue on cleaning my house, responding to emails, writing my column, and getting a major work project done. It’s all because I keep starting something then need to stop to do something else that is more important. I have very good intentions but never seem to accomplish half of what I need to do. I also lose track of time. I don’t know where it goes, but I bet I forgot to do something during that time!

I seem to run around in circles and never really accomplish anything. I forget appointments, birthdays, events – you name it, I’ll forget it. I forget to have a lunch ready so I don’t have to run out during work. I hit snooze another time because I forgot I have an early doctor’s appointment.

Writing lists that I forget about later is a big waste of time. I’ve even tried emailing myself but forget to check my account the rest of the day.

I started complaining of memory issues over 10 years ago. I was told it was age-related…in my early 40s! I knew it wasn’t my age, but I got nowhere with my doctors.

Now it’s getting to the point of being very troubling. I try to adapt by taking copious notes at work. My boss frequently tells me I don’t have to write things down, but I DO have to. I know I have a better chance of not remembering something than I have of remembering it. I’m at a loss of what to do about this dilemma.

I leave myself voicemail messages if I really need to remember something. I’ve given up asking others to remind me of things. When they forget, I’m the only one to blame, and it isn’t fair to bring them into my mess. If I lived alone, I’d get a blackboard or message board in every room to remind me.

I just started using a calendar app, but so far I haven’t been very consistent. My goal is to make it a habit. I need to get back on track. Maybe some structure will help.

I use a pillbox to help remind me to take my 17 various medications and supplements each day. I still forget, but not as often as before.

I found that when I don’t get enough sleep, my ability to remember is almost nonexistent. Thinking is a struggle. Add in some brain fog and I might as well just stay in bed. Getting a decent amount of sleep is nearly impossible with fibro, but it is vital for our health and well-being. I’ve started setting an alarm an hour before bedtime to remind me to quit messing around and get ready for bed.

Having your memory fail you can be scary, frustrating, and depressing. Being told it is just your age or that you’re scatterbrained is infuriating. I have a hard time not letting it get to me, but I know that I am not the only person with fibro who is suffering from this. Getting stressed out about it only makes it worse.

But I try to look at the bright side. When I watch a movie or television show, I can’t remember if I’ve seen it before, so everything is new to me!

How do you deal with memory issues? Do you have any tips or tricks to help you remember?


Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia.


  1. Mary Carrazza says:

    Yes Carrie, forgetfulness is becoming more & more of an issue for sufferers of Fibromyalgia. For me it’s happened so quickly. Less then 5 yrs ago- like you I was the go to person at work. I had a memory like an elephant. But then I had to stop working & as i explained to my Doctor at my last visit – I don’t recognise me anymore. I physically look different; I do not have the same mental acumen as I once had; I become very stressed when I have to drive and I forget more than I remember. Even my Doctor has noticed that I struggle to find the correct word in conversations with her.
    So hard not to get frustrated or angry – but that achieves nothing. And Carrie – you’re right about the movies. I do remember that I’ve seen it before – I just don’t remember how it ends or “who done it” …. so I’m enjoying all my DVDs again!

  2. Laura Thomson says:

    Hi there, I’m sorry to hear of your problem but slightly happy to hear selfishly because I am the same. I was diagnosed with fibro when I was 22 and would experience and complain about the mind fog. Now 6 years later, I’m 28 and have degressed to the point of early … I actually forgot the word and my grandma suffered from it… wow… altzimers. I’m not trying to be funny and that’s the absolute saddest part. I just sat there for almost 5 whole minutes struggling with myself. I’m at the point of writting everything down on a brightly colored pad that will hopefully draw attention to itself, in order to remind me to look. I have no tips, except to get a more attention grabbing note pad. Let me know if you find anything that will help us and I’ll try to remember to do the same… Take care!

  3. David says:

    I use my smartphone: both the calendar and lists. I use bells and whistles to remind me when to take medication, when I have an appointment (each appointment may have several reminders), to take the laundry out of the machines, etc.
    Also, I make lists on my phone: all important information is stored on my phone (in the cloud, actually), blood test results, blood pressure, etc.
    No phone, no acceptance of responsibility on my part.

  4. Cori says:

    I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2013 and my memory is already way worse. I lose track of days, appointments, if I’ve taken my meds and just about everything. It drives me crazy and I start thinking I’m going crazy. I ask people things I literally just asked a few hours before. I’ve tried texting myself and keeping a planner but it doesn’t seem to help. I’m interested in any pointers as well.

  5. Cori says:

    Thank you for your comment. I will definitely let you know if I find anything that helps. I struggle with finding words as well. I used to be great at spelling and now I struggle with simple words. It is very scary and even scarier knowing that I can’t remember anything. It’s very frustrating but will try the bright colored paper and see if that helps 🙂

  6. viviane says:

    Hi there my friend, I am 67 and was diagnosed 3 years ago, but looking back I probably was suffering from Fibro long before that, but, now, with my age, of course my so call friends don,t understand, and my doctor even less, so, yes, it is a NO WIN situation with friends and doctor and family. but I writte everything down, even a few days in advance, when I think of something I have to do, Tuesday or Thursday or next week, I will make a yellow sticker note and keep it in view and look at them from time to time, if it is for next week or the week after, Ihave a clendar, every week, I will writte my meetings, hobby, diner out, etc….so, that have help me a lot, for sleeping better, I go to bed with a book by 8pm then switch off the light and rest until I will fall asleep, by 1am or before I am awake, but if one hour after that I am still awake will take a little piece of my LORENZYPAN muscles relaxing tablet, the doctor give me 1mg and I cut them in 8 pieces, that is how sensitive I am to drug, even that my doctors said take a placebo, well, I say, if a placebo works for me, then it is even better……love you, don,t despair, try what can work FOR YOU…you are not alone.

    • Carrie Anton says:

      Hi Viviane! I love the ideas! I tried using a day planner but I forget to look at it. I just need to get into a routine, but as you know, that can be a challenge for us Fibro warriors! I haven’t tried going to bed with a book but I will, when I remember…lol. My “new” doctor said to meditate before bed but of course, I keep forgetting to do it! I’ve been in a nasty flare for almost 2 months now so my memory has totally flown the coop! Much love and hugs to you Viviane! I keep meaning to email you and will do so soon. This also reminds me that I need to set up Skype!!! Gentle hugs my friend!

      • viviane says:

        Please Carrie e-mail Me, I am getting stronger wnd wise with that Fibro, we can help each other……Hugs and love my dear friend, you are not alone…..

  7. Eileen Briesch says:

    Carrie, I was a copy editor for a newspaper until I was laid off and forced to retire in August 2016. I can’t tell you the number of times I sat there trying to think of the right word for a headline. I knew the word but it just wasn’t coming to mind. My younger coworkers (or even those my age) would look at me with befuddlement, thinking I was going senile. I used the online thesaurus so often to find that perfect word. Yes, I am 62 now (I was 61 when I got laid off), so I could wave it off as a senior moment, but there were way more senior moments than people my age usually have. I also forget appointments, names, etc. I know some of the meds I take cause some of the memory issues.

  8. Gena says:

    Hi, My memory is the pits. I worked in the nursing home for 30 yrs. The last 10 yrs, of which I passed meds. This year will will be 10 years of no working due to fibromyalgia & failed back surgery. I get very frustrated because as you all have said, I can’t remember anything. My mom had Alzheimer’s & I’m so afraid I will get it. My doctor’s don’t understand. Last appointment she gave me a mini mental test. I had to laugh & asked her, do you know how many of these tests I administered thru my career! Any way, I use my phone calendar & clock for everything I need to remember, from alarm to remind me to take meds. Calenders with reminders of appointments or any place I have to be. I start reminding myself 3 hours ahead of time. Sometimes it takes me that long to get ready to go, as I have to rest while doing so. Hope this helps someone. I am so thankful to have found fibromyalgia news today. I feel your the only ones who understand. Thank you.

  9. Marlene says:

    I have suffered with this FM for 20 years, the only prescriptions I take are Zopicones 1/2 tablet and Tylenol first thing in morning because of the stiffness and pain. At night I take marijuana oil to help relax and sleep.
    I had Chelation therapy to lower the amount of mercury in my body which will play havoc with your memory as it tears the sheathing off of the nerve cells in your brain. I take a tablespoon of magnesium every day and a good probiotic. I go to a MD of Functional Medicine, if you can find one they are the ones that can help. They are Allopath and Naturopath doctors. to find one. Since being on this protocol I have not have problems with my memory. Still get brain fog at times, but I can still think, may not want to get out of bed. Point I am getting at check your meds, what are you taking? Oil of Rosemary is good for memory, I put it on my forehead and back of my neck.

  10. Michele says:

    I’ve been using my redneck pda for a few decades… I write everything on my hands!! When I drive I am constantly reminded of what I need to do as well as when I look down or while I am using my hands while I speak! It’s been my best device. As for the spelling and finding words the only thing that helped was Adderall but getting it if you are over 18 is almost impossible in the Los Angeles county area. Another thing that makes a huge difference is making sure you are not vitamin D2 low. Mine is severely low but as it goes up slowly (I take a 50,000 unit pill a week) I have found that I suffer far less than before with these mind issues although when stressed it worsens.

  11. Olivia Rock says:

    Hi my name is Shannon I’m about to be 30 and I feel like I have the memory of a 90 year old. Over the past year I’ve been trying to figure out how to live with Fibromyalgia. It has been difficult and challenging to live with this disease. I have recently been really struggling with my memories or lack there of. I forget everything all the time and it interferes with my life daily.

    I mess of times, dates, appointments, and everything else you can possibly think of. I’m a hairdresser managing a busy salon doing over 20 haircuts a day and over 40 hours a week. I find myself taking notes but forgetting where I put them. I have thought about the calendar apps and might try that.

    I find the things that help my fibro the most is a daily routine and a consistent routine through the week. That way I don’t forget much if every week I can expect my schedule at work to be the same, my son’s school schedule the same, exercise schedule and so on. Then adding new things to the old routine aren’t as hard to remember. Just don’t add to many new things at once that can be dangerous.

    Also someone mentioned not being able to sleep. This something I have struggled with my whole life. You can ask my mom she suffered through sleepless nights with me as a child. Today I can say that for the last 4 years I have been able to get sleep thanks to marijuana. I know some people might be against this form of medicine. Let me say that using it to treat some of my symptoms has been life changing. I only use a small amount at night 30 mins before bedtime and you get the best sleep ever with no next day side effects. If you are in a state where this is a option for you I would try it out. I know how you feel not sleeping it’s very difficult to function it’s worth trying for some relief god knows we need it!!!

    I know I have had this since as young as 15 and it has progressively gotten worse. I’m proud to say that I lost 70lbs and cut out all sugar out of my diet. This allowed me to feel a million times better but I still have flare ups and fogs that I still don’t know how to deal with. I am determined to try to lead a normal happy healthy life even with this. Knowing I’m not the only one gives me more motivation to stay strong and keep pushing through everyday just like you all do.

  12. ian rollinson says:

    I am 55 yr old male. Have been diagnosed with chronic regional pain syndrome which by conciseness of my doctors has become fm. Concerned carers suspected early onset dementia for my memory problems. After screening the phyc’s cleared these suspicions confirming what i suspected. Because of lack of sleep ,pescription meds and fibro fog I have real and fluctuating issues regarding my ability to concentrate. This effects nearly everything in day to day life and is quite frustrating. The point of this is, what looks like memory issues may not be at all.

  13. Lyn says:

    Hi all , I’ve watched my memory slide more and more, most nights I have to think about what drugs I have taken , the other night I got these terrible feelings in my feet and hands , I was a little worried what was happening , I then realised that I forgot to change my pain patch , I read at night as it helps to fall asleep , I have to re read the pages as I forgot what I’d read , I do work 3 days week and if I did not write everything down I’d forget , I email myself reminders . I also take marijuana , I have the edibles , the best nights sleep and nearly no pain , I have been able to stop using opiate medication 60 ml per day , the marijuaana has been a godsend ,

  14. Bonnie says:

    I, to used to pride myself on my grammar, spelling and memory and am now embarrassed by my lack in these areas. I also have the issue of talking and in mid-sentence have no idea what I was talking about and I know it is not coming back! This was especially concerning when I interviewed for a job a few years ago. At work I have learned to write everything down. I never thought that at age 55 I would feel like I do.

  15. Abhay Sareen says:

    I was able to fix my memory issues – to an extent. How it played out was I went for a cardiac MRI that showed I had lower ejection fraction. Started supplementing that with L-carintine and CoQ10. This first helped my heart and digestive system function better. This over a short period has helped my memory and brain fog improve. Please look into your cardiac MRi’s. Tmt tests and CT scans of the heart had been useless previously. Goodluck!

  16. scoggers says:

    I find the loss of memory incredibly frustrating. I have a Masters, but am wanting to reshape my career. I am studying a diploma at the moment and find it so difficult to retain the information. I have two young children (4 and 6) who disturb my sleep practically every night, I have given up trying to prevent them from coming in because #1 my husband always lets them in #2 they are only little for a short amount of time, soon they will be grotty teenagers who don’t want to know. But I’m in a low phase at the moment and my confidence regarding work has fallen to an all time low.

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