Brain fog - visibility zero.
I stand in the kitchen.
I am listening to my kid tell me about her rather eventful day and I AM listening. Yet try as I may, I can't quite grasp what she is telling me. Sounds and concepts are slowly filtering through but it feels like I am missing every other word. I take a breath and refocus on her conversation. I feel a little disorientated, not quite dizzy but very odd. My head feels like it is full of something else, maybe wool or yarn at the front (wait, is that where I put my needle?) but there is a kind of tightening grip that has me in it's vices at the back of my skull. I would shake my head to clear everything out but I know from experience that this only makes things worse, somehow mixes all the incoming visual and auditory messages into a thick pea soup.
You know those dreams in which you are "swimming" through the air, not gaining any traction? Or desperately trying to cling to beach sand as a tidal wave threatens to drag you out to sea? My comprehension skills (and I have good skills, always got an A+ in those tests at school) are like my hands in a dream scenario, attempting to hold things together or keep things moving along but I keep forgetting to close my fingers and it all slips through.
What I'm describing is known as "brain fog".
I first encountered brain fog when I got my period at age 14, and it is something most women of all ages experience because of their hormones. And as you age it gets worse, oh hooray! A recent study found that women between the ages of 40 and 60 have trouble staying focused on tricky tasks and often struggle with working memory, which helps you do things like calculating tax at the store or doing quick sums. Women who reported memory difficulties were also more likely to report symptoms of depression, anxiety, and sleep issues.
Wait, that's me!
I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia at age 24 and one of the main symptoms after pain is, you guessed it, brain fog!
What else gives you brain fog? Let's see.
Stress (check), anxiety medications (check), poor diet (ok ok), multitasking (oh, come on now!) and it would seem the list goes ever on and that I can see myself on every line of that list. I'm sure I'm not alone, not remotely.
Women are at the forefront of all of these maladies, from sleep deprivation to hormone changes, to chronic illness and beyond. We are the lucky ones. Lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky.
To know that there is are real medical and physical causes contributing to the pea soup murkiness inside your skull is helpful.
No, you don't have Alzheimer's (yet, but Mum has that so who the hell knows?!) and there are all sorts of dietary, exercise and sleep things you can try to reduce the fog but there isn't a fix. The brain fog support group, it seems, would be enormous. Attendees, pick a number and get in line.
This annoys me intensely. It's another thing on the long list of "female complaints" which continue to be misunderstood and not nearly researched enough. Brain fog perpetuates the myth of the "weaker sex" and it would seem that an inordinate number of us "weaklings" are too busy trying to swim our way through it to find a solution.
But what to do?
The answer is decidedly unclear to me because I have my stupid period and I'm muddled, mystified and about to reach obfuscation saturation.
Fuck it. Here's a song.