Fibromyalgia is usually associated with physical pain and discomfort. Of course, this is true however, it is also largely characterized by its adverse effects on psychological well-being and cognitive functions. This often-overlooked aspect of the disorder makes part of what is often referred to as ‘fibro fog’. Fibro fog encompasses many things, amongst which are: difficulty voicing thoughts in a coherent manner, slow speech, poor memory, and overall confusion.
Being ‘silent’ in a sense fibro fog tends to further exacerbate issues with overall mental well-being. While the topic of fibromyalgia has gained popularity in research and has thus become more talked about, treatment and individualised pain management plans have become more accessible. Despite this, dealing with the disorder still presents its challenges. People who suffer from fibromyalgia have often reported that the dealing with such a complex disorder is mostly manageable day to day, but it is this aspect of fibromyalgia that often takes a toll on their confidence, self-esteem and overall daily functioning.
Symptoms of fibro fog include the following:
- Fatigue and mood issues
- Memory issues or forgetfulness
- Impaired ability to concentrate or stay focused
- Decreased alertness
- Problems thinking clearly or mental slowness
- Difficulty holding a conversation
- Issues related to executive function (decision-making etc.)
The individual exhibiting these symptoms has often experienced worry that fibromyalgia is causing a decline in intellect or mental capacity. This thought is often present due to issues such as forgetfulness and lack of alertness.
It is important that anyone who exhibits these symptoms is aware that there is support available and that these symptoms neither define your intellect nor do they define your success.
What makes it worse?
- Extreme fatigue
One can only imagine that being in pain every day can add to feelings of physical and at times mental exhaustion. In addition, symptoms of fatigue have a tendency of making it difficult to deal with symptoms even if they are milder in nature and add more pressure on the individual’s daily life.
What we eat affects our way of being in the short term as well as in the long run. Certain inflammatory foods such as sugar can cause flare ups of fibromyalgia which take an even bigger toll on the body, thus causing more exhaustion.
- Poor routine and self-care
Improper self-care might mean worsening of symptoms as well as encouraging habitual behaviours that are detrimental or do not help in managing the condition. Splitting larger tasks into smaller structured ones makes it easier to feel more accomplished and to not let the fog slow a person from accomplishing tasks.
What can help fibro fog?
- Maintaining good physical activity.
Slow and steady exercise can help with release of endorphins which help both mentally and physically.
Remember that you are dealing with chronic issues. A little compassion and understanding goes a long way. While it is good to push yourself to achieve more. It is also important to be compassionate with oneself.
This goes part and parcel with the above point. Caring for yourself is a must – especially when you have such daily challenges.
The above are simply the basis of learning to manage a chronic illness. If you need more information on how to manage symptoms of Fibromyalgia visit this article and remember that there are professionals who can help you deal with your struggles.
If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.
Jessica Saliba Thorne is a Gestalt psychotherapist. She has experience within the mental health field and sees adults with mental health difficulties, relationship issues and trauma at Willingness.
Dumain, T. (2021, April 2). Fibro fog, explained: Why you get it and what to do about it. CreakyJoints. Retrieved September 8, 2022, from https://creakyjoints.org/about-arthritis/fibromyalgia/fibromyalgia-symptoms/fibro-fog
WebMD. (n.d.). Fibro fog and fibromyalgia fatigue: How it feels & treatment tips. WebMD. Retrieved September 8, 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/fibromyalgia/guide/fibromyalgia-and-fatigue
Anderson, A. (2019, November 4). Why do we get brain fog and what can we do about it? Patient.info. Retrieved September 9, 2022, from https://patient.info/news-and-features/why-we-get-brain-fog-and-what-to-do-about-it