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What is "Fibro Fog"?

“Fibro Fog” is a well-known term to describe the cognitive impairment that comes with fibromyalgia. One day you have a very active, able brain; sharp, focused. The next, you can’t remember the word for “pen”.

It’s a very common symptom and losing the ability to recall common words is very upsetting. It doesn’t happen all the time, or with the same word. It just strikes at inopportune moments. Suddenly, words with which you are very familiar and that you use every day seem to have fallen out of your head.

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There’s more to Fibro Fog than not remembering common words though. Attacks of feeling dazed and confused are common. You can generally feel it creep up on you, but not always. A blanket of fog lays over your brain and you can’t concentrate, focus on what someone is saying, string a sentence together, or even speak coherently. You might find yourself slurring, or falling asleep mid-sentence. It might last for a few hours, or a few days. Some days you wake up knowing it’s going to be one of those days. Other days it can take you completely by surprise.

Your short-term memory can be affected too. You can’t remember what you went upstairs for. Or the conversation you had with your spouse is a complete blank – perhaps you don’t remember the specifics of the conversation, but just as likely, you can’t remember having the conversation at all. You might still be able to remember what you had for breakfast on a specific special day 40 years ago, but not remember what you had for breakfast this morning.

These things are easy to put down to getting older, if it happens later in life, but many people first experience these symptoms before they’re 40. They’re concerning enough in their own right, enough to make you question your mental faculties, but combined with ever changing pain that doesn’t show up in tests and has no apparent cause; you can really start to question your sanity.

So, how do you cope with this? Do you just put up with it and hope it doesn’t happen too often, or are there things you can do to help?

In my own experience, you can help stave off these attacks or lessen their impact, but you need to be proactive. I have a brain training game on my phone. I play it for 10 minutes every morning. Some days I find it harder than others, but I know that overall, I’m helping keep my brain focused and my skills honed.

Essential oils can help - diffusing them when you need to focus, or when you’re already struggling with focus can be a big help, and I recommend peppermint and lemon together for this. If that’s not practical when you need the help, sniffing peppermint oil (with your eyes closed!) can also be a great help.

I use mantras every day and if I’m struggling, or know I’m likely to, or know that I can’t afford to on a particular day, I use a mantra that helps my mental clarity. Sometimes, I choose the Ganapathi mantra - a mantra to Ganesha, the remover of obstacles, to ask that the obstacles to mental clarity be removed. Sometimes that doesn’t feel like the right mantra though, and then I prefer this mantra to Saraswati, the Goddess of wisdom and communication, amongst other things:

“Om saraswatyai namaha”

With either of these mantras, I chant a full mala; that is, 108 repetitions of the mantra.

I’d love to know what methods you’ve tried for combating Fibro Fog.

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