Living with Fibromyalgia Brain Fog — What Was I Saying?

Living with Fibromyalgia Brain Fog — What Was I Saying?

Through the Fog

“Brain fog” is the not-so-scientific name for the inability to focus and recall things. It is a cognitive deficit. It has to be one of the most frustrating things that fibromyalgia syndrome warriors deal with every day. I send kudos to those who can work a 9-5 job. I don’t know how you do it. I would really struggle trying to recall instructions or conversations.

We all have difficulty concentrating, especially when we’re tired. It can be difficult to find the words we’re looking for. Carrying on a conversation can sometimes feel like an Olympic event. We have difficulty remembering where we put things, words and names, etc. It is so frustrating.

We say things like, “What was I just talking about?” “What did I come in this room for?” We forget directions to someplace we’ve been to many times. I heard about a of fibromyalgia pas and brain scans showed they don’t receive enough oxygen in different regions of their brain. One of the possible reasons is that part of our nervous system is off-kilter, causing changes in the brain’s blood vessels.

What can be done?

Lack of good, restorative sleep. Feeling anxious and/or rushed. Some of the meds we take. Increased pain. They all can contribute to brain fog. Is there anything that can be done?

I always advocate food over supplements. Some foods that are brain-friendly could include wild-caught fish, walnut and coconut oil, organic eggs, fruits and vegetables (especially avocados, blueberries and broccoli), carbohydrates, turmeric and — my favorite — dark chocolate. Supplements could include a good source of omega-3 and B vitamins. A good CoQ10 is invaluable. Do your due diligence, though, and find quality supplements. Avoid things like 5-HTP and SAM-e if you’re taking certain antidepressants. Check with your doctor.

Brain fog also could be an indication that you are doing too much, and your energy is headed for a deficit. When I get like that, I know I need to engage in some “mindless” activity, such as indulging in Netflix. It just feels like I hit a wall. Do you ever feel that way? I also work on crossword puzzles to keep my brain a little sharper. I read a lot of books, mostly fiction, but I also like learning new things through non-fiction books.

My brain kept “losing” thoughts while I was writing this column. It’s profoundly frustrating, but I try to see the humor in it. Whining about it doesn’t benefit me or those around me, so I work at keeping a positive attitude. That’s not to say that I am always successful.

How do you handle brain fog?

Now, what was I saying?

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.

45 comments

  1. Mandy says:

    Robin, the ‘brain fog’ aspect drives me nuts because it makes me feel so stupid sometimes (something I know I’m not)! If I don’t write lists for daily chores, or make note of a good idea or some similar method to jog my memory for important things, forget it…literally!!! I will stop in the middle of a sentence because the word or thoughts I was going to say just disappeared or were blocked, and I can’t seem to retrieve them. I know what I’m trying to say, but can’t get the point across anymore! So frustrating >:( I also take supplements and eat healthy, but I’m still relatively young (not quite 49) and I’m worried about the future. Is this going to get worse as I get older? I certainly hope not…

    • Lisa says:

      I am only 50 years old and have been using some of the tips above for years. I always make lists, writing down everything that I need to remember! And when my brain says, “Enough!”, I turn on Netfix or Hulu for “mindless” time. Or I cook, or do crossword puzzles (easy ones) or enjoy humor on Facebook/Pinterest. Anything that does not require extreme thought processes. Or I nap, that works wonders too! And I focus on not worrying about tomorrow. Very hard to do but essential in my battle with fibro.

  2. konjoo lee says:

    I was met a lady with mental disorder. I checked and remove the harmful shoes, glasses, and more. She has brain smog and clear soon, and more healthy. Our body charged with positive electron. If we contact with negative charge, our body charged with negative electron. I think the brain fog may related the negative charged. Brain fog may easy remove with electron charge tune up.

  3. Denise Bault says:

    I was going to write about my brain fog…then I forgot what I was going to say. 🙂
    Oh yea. It happens a lot with me. I’m fortunate to have a wonderful friend that will allow me to interrupt her to “get out” what I want to say before I forget it! She’s a great help at trying to get me back to where it was I was…to try and remember what was so important I forgot what I was going to say. (Those of us with brain fog completely understand that last sentence.) Ahhhhh…..fibromyalgia, “THE GIFT THAT JUST KEEPS ON GIVING!” Thank God for post-its and lots of small note pads. I have them everywhere. I also attach a pen to everything so I don’t have to look for another one. Don’t know if this gets worse with age, but it certainly is bad enough right now. I also believe the more stressed or tired we are, the stronger the brain fog.

  4. Robin Horne says:

    I experience this on a daily basis. More so though when I get tired and stressed. It is so hard for me some days to be able to get my words across to anybody, that I just give up. I’m so frustrated by the process. I told my husband last night, that it is such a struggle for me to even function anymore on a daily basis. Life is now so complicated for me now, I hate it. I do have many days where I just feel lost and lonely and all by myself. I do not yearn to go out though as it is hard for me to get out of the house. I no longer have friends and I’m for the most part okay with that. I no longer want to spend hours on the phone, as, I hate having to talk on the phone period anymore. Fibromyalgia has taken over every part of my life. I am no longer the person I use to be. Brain fog can be such a debilitating part of fibromyalgia.

    • Kim says:

      Hi, reading your comments remind me so much of myself. At one point I thought I might end up institutionalized. However, with a lot of praying/begging, I have found some relief. I’ve had Frybo for over 27 yrs and has always used diet and exercise to deal with until about 3 yrs ago. I now use the new Quell device and it has changed my life. I recommend looking into it. I’m an advocate for drug free treatment!

    • Trina jeanneault says:

      Robin you are writing my story is am angry and still mourn the loss of my old self I don’t work anymore and I hate to plan a meal even cook it is a challenge people don’t care nor do they get it so I just like to be alone I feel like I am a downer whereas I loved life and entertaining loved my job all that is gone it’s like my own death

      • Robin Dix says:

        Trina, I understand! What kind of things are you interested in? Do you like to write? Do you enjoy art or sewing? Is there something you could make and drop off to a shelter or hospital? We need to find a purpose in order to regain the joy we’ve lost

        • Christina says:

          Im turning forty tomorrow and finding out after ruling out all other tests I have fibro..my life is changing before my eyes I have four boys and work full time 45hrs a week..I take tramadol everyday for pain..and that doesnt even help..this is really helpful to read others dealing with the same condition…

      • Denise Bault says:

        Trina, it is like a death, isn’t it? Our old selves have died, slowly but surely…and now our new lives are taking their place. The difficulty for me is that this was NOT what I had planned and worked for all my life. None of us saw this coming. How could we? I’m sure none of us thought our lives were going to take such a drastic turn…even if it was a slow, long, often disabling turn in which we now feel is a wrong direction. Everything that used to come with ease or with hard work is now barely a reality. Sure, if we save up our energy, we may be able to do one or two of the things we loved and enjoyed. I’m with Robin in that we need to find joy in other things. Sometimes it’s just the simplest of things. Try and remember that we are mourning the loss of who we were and what we did. Now we have to welcome who we are and what we can NOW do. Quite a drastic change, but life is nothing but change. It’s normal to be angry and sad as we are still grieving. I’m hoping that this metamorphosis is going to turn me either into a beautiful butterfly, or a more beautiful person because of the difficult lessons learned from having this bizarre illness. Come on, butterfly…then I can finally escape the cocoon of fibromyalgia! 🙂 Please know that you are not alone…

    • Angela says:

      Reading this has made me cry. But has brought relief too. Made me cry coz u are in my shoes right now. I can’t cope with frybro everyday and feel just as u do.my whole life has changed i have changed and cant find a days brake from frybromyalgia. This illness became much more serve after a total thyroid removed I had two years ago. I could no5 walk even to my local shop again. If I was to write my symptoms I would be here writing for a week. For me it’s all frustrating even when I rest I am in pain. And I can’t be bothered with anyone anymore be coz of the this. I feel worthless hopeless and am a waste of life. I suppose I have not accepted this chronic disease yet and still don’t want too. I want it to go away as I preferred my life before

  5. PAMELA BERGMANN-KNEBEL says:

    I really like what you said about its an indication that you are doing too much and headed towards an energy deficiency. Funny as I read the article I was going through just that! I am also extremely fatigued right now which is another indication for me to slow down now. Seems never enough time to get anything done due only having a few productive hours a day, if that. I don’t have extreme brain fog but I do like you and try to keep my mind engaged by reading, playing games on my tablet, ect.

  6. Sha'ula says:

    Food, protein and every Robin said about vitamin and nutrition supplements. D-ribose, mega multi-vitamins, no sugar or substitutes but use raw honey, vegan diet with frequent protein. Meditation and breath work. Acupuncture/press, chiropractic treatment, warm water therapy, massage, sunshine and mostly l laughing at myself. My spouse and I have decided to put a chalk board or dry erase board in every room of the house so we write down what we were doing for thinking to refer back to when we have forgotten. Lists, I use lists for everything and calendar reminders for all appointments or activities. Forgiving myself and being gentle on my psyche. Who would not stop someone if they were bashing a person for being in a wheelchair. We fibies are in wheelchairs, they are just invisible ones.

  7. I definitely know how the brain fog is, and as someone with both fibromyalgia and autism, it can be very frustrating. Like many people with autism, my memory was great before I started having fibromyalgia symptoms. I can remember things from when I was two or three years old and from other times before the fibromyalgia, which started in 2011, pretty clearly, but now, I have a hard time remembering things that happened a few minutes or hours ago. Because of the autism, I’ve always had difficulty expressing myself, finding the right words, and carrying on a conversation, but now, it’s even worse. Having both fibro and autism, as well as other disabilities, including blindness, can make life as a college student going to school online hard. I think the brain fog can be one of the hardest symptoms of fibro.

    • Tim Bossie says:

      First, let us say how proud we at Fibro News Today are that you are battling the odds and attending college. That is awesome! We hope you continue on with your studies. 🙂 And, we know that brain fog is so difficult even under the best of conditions.

  8. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 2004. I was only 26 years old. Providers did not understand what it was or how to treat it. I was put on a variety of meds including Methadone and Morphine. I got off of all medication in 2006, at that point nothing was working. I went on Valerian Root, Melatonin and 5 HTP. Which worked for a very long time. Last year they lost their oomph, I was starting all over again. I decided to go back to a pain mgmt. specialist I was diagnosed with early onset arthritis in my spine and peripheral neuropathy. I decided to try injections in my joints and a list of more meds. I live in a Medical Cannabis state so I decided to get my card. It was the best thing I have ever done for myself. I am now taking Melatonin and Medical Cannabis. I was promoted as a Project Manager with a top insurance company, I am a single mom with a very rambunctious 5 yr. old boy and some days are still hard but overall I can function in normal society and that feels Wonderful!

  9. Karen H says:

    I was able to work well for the first 10 years of having fibro. As long as I was able to sleep I could perform a very stressful and mentally challenging job (engineering). For me sleeping well required regular exercise (yoga mostly) and eating well. At around year 11 a number of life events seemed to deepen my symptoms and my doctor prescribed Lyrica. It was effective at helping me sleep and relieving pain but it made my brain ‘numb’. I decided to try cannabis and was able to cut my Lyrica to 1/3. This enabled me to continue to work at a high level for another 8 years. Note that the cannabis was not for daytime… It really accentuated brain fog! Eventually my fibro flares became too frequent and working at a high level was becoming too difficult and unhealthy for me. I decided to retire (at 58). I am searching for my metamorphosis now! I miss my old self but am slowly finding peace and I am feeling better! Thank you Robin and all the people who have commented. Knowing that I am not alone helps beyond words!

  10. Donna Brindle says:

    hi does anybody know anything about being retired early from work with this condition i have a lot of other illnesses too, but i have asked my company if i can be retired on ill health i have worked all my life i am 52 years old now, over the last year i my fibromyalgia has just got worse, i find i just cant cope with day to stuff never mind work, the mediscreen doctor has said that there is no evidence that this illness is permanent, does anyone know any different because as far as i am aware there is no cure, whilst i have tolerated it for a few years, i just feel know its too much.
    any advice please

    • Denise Bault says:

      Donna, Since this is a chronic illness with no cure, your best bet would be to file for disability. If you have paid into the system, you can contact the Social Security Administration to file. I would highly suggest you hire an attorney versed in handling fibromyalgia patients, It can take several years, but DON’T GIVE UP! Good luck…

      • kae heck says:

        Donna, find a good disability attorney who REALLY knows the system. I have fibro as well as back issues (4 disc surgeries). My therapist recommended a great attorney and my disability case was approved within 3 months. Check with ALL of your health care providers. Very likely one will be able to help. Good luck . . .

  11. Suzanne says:

    Oh, my best friend-brain fog. The worst part is not being able to communicate clearly with people. Especially at work. My workplace has never been very understanding of my condition. I work at a hospital providing level of care. When I get home it’s all about my dog, bunny, t.v., Netflix, soft music and then hopefully some sleep. I’ve been on all types of medication, but have found great relief taking gabapentin. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to resume hiking, long walks, etc… I think that’s been the biggest lose of all, not being able to walk off my stress. Maybe some day.

  12. BONNIE SPOON says:

    I sometimes take Ritalin to help with the fatigue/brain fog in the morning. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I can take the Ritalin for five days in a row and then not take it for a couple of weeks (I also take other meds). Those days I do not take it are sometimes rough, but I want to see if I can do without it. I am blessed at the moment that I can stay at home, which is a real safety-net for me. Getting up and fighting the fatigue, brain-fog, no voice because of my throat muscles and the stiffness/pain in the morning is a constant battle every day. It is not easy. I really do not like taking medicine but at this point in my life (64 years old) it has become about the quality of life…..so if I need to take medicine to help with the day and tell myself do not feel guilty for relying on the meds, I will.

  13. Wendy Hardy-Coulter says:

    Hello everyone,

    I had to stop work in 2012 due to Fibromyalgia, and PTSD – we’ll take Depression, and Anxiety as a ‘given’ due to Fibro. When I left work, I suffered a type of long bereavement for it, because I had come to gain my education late in life, therefore it was all the more painful to loose the opportunity to ‘practice’ my profession, etc.

    I live on the government benefit just now, with some help for disability and medical expenses. I am 61 years old, so four years out from the State pension.

    My husband also suffers from a life-long disease, and so occasionally we can both be completely exhausted.

    I have been in constant pain now for 28 years, and it is SO draining, both physically and mentally – as my fellow suffers will know! I am not telling you anything new!

    I have taken a ‘long way around’ in explaining why it is impossible to even contemplate enjoying the wonderful diet which you advocate here – if only! We exist on a very small amount of money each week for shopping (NZ$50 is our average for 2 people – and this has to cover ALL household item, toiletries, cleaning items, etc), and so we really only live on life’s very basic’s. And if my church did not have a Fruit and Vegetable Co-op each week for a very reasonable cost, we certainly would not have any fresh fruit or vegetables to eat at all, due to the huge chunk which they would take out of my shopping budget.
    In fact, we very rarely eat meat, and never fresh, or even frozen fish. Again, occasionally a little tinned tuna.

    So when people say, ‘Oh, try this supplement, get all these vitemins (sorry! can’t spell just now), I think to myself, how lucky you are to be able to do that for yourself, because I am sure that such ‘pampering’ would help us so much, too!

    • Robin Dix says:

      Hello Wendy, my husband and I live on a very limited budget as well. It would be much harder without my writing income. We shop mostly on the outside aisles of the grocery store buying mostly fruits and veggies. Our budget also needs to include toiletries, cleaning supplies, etc. I’m so very sorry you lost your job and that you and your husband are doing poorly. Sending you soft gentle hugs ?

  14. Alouette says:

    I 40 hrs a week and I am so glad and humbled that my coworkers try so hard to work with me. I walk with a pen and note pad. If my boss sees that I am getting upset because of my fybo fog… she says, “deep breaths, relax, walk away and regroup. It works. I am learning to only focus on work when I am at work!!!

  15. Terri says:

    My main challenge, everyone is spikes of fibro, fatigue, sleepiness and stinging, pulsing headache pain about an hour or two after eating any carb. A kale/Quinoa byrger with plain turkey patty did it today. The flare up lasts about 12 hours Are any of you experiencing something like this? struggling with this?

      • Karen says:

        I discovered my gluten sensitivity over 25 years ago, so that’s how long I’ve avoided it for. As time goes on and especially if life has over stressed me, I find that I react to all grains. I can tolerate ice cream over rice or quinoa. Grains will cause intense fibro symptoms lasting for from anywhere from 12 hours to a few days! Terri you aren’t imagining it!

  16. Jerrie Paniri says:

    My story is typical – years of sleuthing various debilitating symptoms until identified as fibromyalgia. I asked my doctor about Adderall, the drug my son takes for ADD. She recommended a 10mg fast release dose, which I’ve used daily for the past two years. It’s helped me with focus, quieted a scattered brain, let’s me function in an organized way.

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