I’ll be honest. I didn’t think I had fibro fog for a quite a long time – I’m talking years – after my diagnosis of fibromyalgia (and other diagnosed conditions). I thought I was pretty good at being articulate and thinking things through, and didn’t seem to have any major problems with my memory. In fact, I prided myself on managing to keep track of so many things in my head (especially all the medical appointments / tests / prescriptions etc!) without too many issues.
Then I realised I kept pausing in the middle of sentences. And that people would say the word I was looking for, or finish the sentence for me.
I wouldn’t be able to find a particular word. It was really strange. For example, if I was asking for an apple I would say ‘Can I have an, ummm, a ummm, oh, an apple please?’ I would be able to picture the apple in my head and knew exactly what I wanted, but I couldn’t think of the word for apple. It just wouldn’t come into my head and was really frustrating.
After this happened about fifty or so times, I realised that it wasn’t just a one-off!
I had heard of fibro fog but didn’t really know what a doctor meant when they asked if I had any cognitive problems. I was fine with general thinking, or analysing a situation or a work problem – so I thought I was fine. Then I looked into fibro fog in more detail and realised that I probably was suffering from it, albeit fairly mildly.
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So what is fibro fog?
Fibro fog refers to cognitive difficulties that may occur in people with fibromyalgia. It can involve different difficulties for different people, but typically involves problems with concentration, memory, finding words, misplacing objects and holding conversations or following those being held amongst others (in a meeting, for example).
It is also sometimes known as 'brain fog' or 'fibromyalgia fog'.
It is not known for sure why these difficulties arise in people with fibromyalgia, but it has been theorised that lack of good quality sleep may be to blame, or at least play a part. It is therefore important to follow general guidelines for good sleep hygiene in order to rest as well as you can do.
My five top tips that may help in dealing with fibro fog:
Making lists is probably the most helpful thing that I do to try and help with fibro fog. I have always been a bit of a list-writer. When I worked full-time I had a pad of paper next to me the whole time. Every time I was asked to do something, needed to remember to reply to an email or was at a meeting, the details were jotted down.
Nowadays I use lists for so many different things that I have divided them up. There is a list of general ‘house’ things to do – shopping, washing, fixing whatever has broken etc etc. Another list for medical stuff – appointments I am waiting for, tests to get the results for, prescriptions I need to ask my GP for etc etc. And other lists for other things – this blog for example!
A (super cute!) medical journal is a great idea for recording everything from your doctor's appointments!
Lists make life infinitely more straightforward. As I don’t need to worry about forgetting anything, there is less anxiety about the possibility that I may do so. Plus I am not expending any ‘brain energy’, so to speak, struggling to remember a date, or a job to do. I like to do a list of things to do the next thing the evening before. I find that it helps to do a 'brain dump' of things in that way, and it means I don't worry about forgetting something the next day.
It is really satisfying being able to tick things off the list as the day or week goes on! Although I think I have a few too many notebooks to keep my lists in!
And if you have a lot of medical appointments like I do, then check out my list of 15 items to take to a medical appointment. It's my go-to list now so I don't forget anything!
Setting reminders or alarms is really useful if you need to do something at a particular time - especially if it is important!
As my phone is always in my hand or close by, I tend to use it the most to set reminders for myself. I often have multiple reminder alarms set on my phone. They can be for more important tasks such as calling the GP surgery at 8am to make an appointment to more simple things such as turning off the hob when my pasta has finished cooking. After more than one burnt dinner that I had forgotten was in the oven or on the hob as I was distracted by something else, I realised how useful alarms were!
Ask a friend, family or colleague to help with reminders
Asking a friend, family member or even a colleague if it is appropriate to remind you of an important event or something to do can be very beneficial. A little prod in the right direction can prevent you forgetting a birthday, or an appointment or something little such as making a phone call (you can also put them on your to-do list to have two methods to remind you!).
Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. It can be difficult to not feel independent, but anyone who has your best interests at heart will want to do anything they can to make life easier for you.
Keep things in the same place
Quite a straightforward one this – have your items in places that are obvious and stay the same. This can apply to items you use everyday or less often. Keep keys, wallet or phone in the same place – keys on a hook by the door or a dish on a side table, for example. Try and put them back in the same place each time you come home, or use them. Then there won’t be any problem finding them again when you are in a rush.
Items you use less often such as important paperwork is best kept in a particular drawer or filing cupboard. Try and be organised and keep it filed so that you can easily find things when you need them.
Have a certain day to do tasks
This might sound silly but I always wash my bed linen on the weekend. That way I know it gets done once a week (as I have an allergy to house dust mites it is important I do it this often).
When I was a bit more ad hoc with my washing days I would never remember when I last did it. I would literally stand in the bedroom staring at the bed trying to figure out whether it was a couple of days ago or several weeks. Now it’s always on the weekend, there are no such questions in my mind anymore.
Now if only I could get it to be sunny and breezy every weekend so it could dry quickly!
Hope those tips help you with your fibro fog! Don't forget to pin the post!
Please follow the advice of your doctor as to all medical treatments, supplements, and dietary choices, as set out in my disclaimer. I am not a medical professional, and this is simply my story and the resources that are helpful to me.