Have you been sleeping better now that you have a better understanding of the difference between being exhausted and MS fatigue? It was one of my greatest challenges to describe to the people in my world.
Even though, I’m known to be a “lace your bootstraps up” kinda girl, when MS fatigue struck, it was allowing no such onward march in my body. Now of course I’m armed with a crazy amount of knowledge and strategies to manage it. (Check out some of those tips in Part 1: Fatigue of this three-part series.)
Now it’s time to get our minds around the next invisible symptom of MS: brain fog.
Like fatigue, brain fog is another unseen symptom those with MS can struggle to adequately describe the experience to those who think it’s the average forgetfulness or difficulty concentrating.
What people think it feels like
We all can relate to misplacing keys, forgetting where you parked the car or why you walked into a room. Many of us often multitask our way through the day, making our brain less efficient and causing forgetfulness and some occasional confusion.
What it actually feels like
MS brain fog – lack of concentration, slow comprehension, memory loss or the mind drawing a complete blank mid-sentence – feels as though the connections are misfiring preventing you from complete the simplest thought. To me, there’s almost a physical sensation in the brain that is barricading any ideas or thoughts from making sense in my mind. Others have described it as having cotton wool in their head. It can feel like your thoughts are traveling via snail mail while everyone around you is on high speed internet connection.
It’s also something that has incredibly intense periods. Brain fog can come and go as it pleases without notice and sometimes it’s more intense than other times.
Why it’s different
According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, brain fog does have a scientific validation. (Sweet! Sound the trumpets and let the choir sing. It feels so good when science finally has the data to back up what we know and feel to be true.) It’s caused by a “loss of myelin around nerve fibers [which] can cause difficulty with transporting memories to storage areas of the brain or retrieving them from storage areas.”
Less Pharm More Table in Action
- Quit the white stuff: gluten, dairy & sugar. (Noticing a trend here? Mentioned this one to combat fatigue too. Bottom line the white stuff is basically the devil of foods to the body.)
- Snuggle in for 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Consistent sleep can help to burn away the brain fog. Need a little help catching your Z’s? Turn off the electronics at least an hour prior to bedtime.
- Exercise to the best of your ability each day. It doesn’t just help you get physically stronger, it helps you get mentally stronger too. Time to flex those cognitive “muscles” my friend. What’s your favorite form of exercise? Walking outdoors or maybe a little yoga or dancing – both of which could be done in a chair if needed – just throw on some of your favorite tunes to lift your energy and motivation and go for it!
I hope this puts your mind at ease in solving the mystery around brain fog. On deck? What it Feels Like to Have MS: Pain.