If you have fibromyalgia, do you ever feel as though your brain suddenly goes blank? As if you remember thinking about something, but don’t quite recall what that something specifically is? Moments like these can be frustrating, exhausting and just plain confusing. Besides that though, it can be rather difficult to explain what these cognitive difficulties truly feel like to someone if they haven’t experienced it themselves.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic illness that causes widespread pain and fatigue. “Fibro fog,” which refers to cognitive dysfunction, is also one of the most common symptoms of fibromyalgia. Cognitive issues can affect how you communicate and think, along with your memory, both short-term and long-term. Many people describe these cognitive issues as “brain fog” or “fibro fog” and it can greatly impact your life if you live with fibromyalgia.
Though a relatively common symptom, “fibro fog” isn’t always the easiest to explain to someone who doesn’t experience it themselves. That’s why we asked our Mighty community to share the metaphors they use to describe “fibro fog.” Hopefully these metaphors can offer insight on what it’s like to actually experience “fibro fog,” while also bringing some understanding, support and even a little bit of humor to the table.
Here’s what our community shared with us:
- “Fibro fog is akin to swinging from tree to tree, only your rope isn’t long enough to get you to your next destination.” – @yael19
- “In almost every home, tucked away in the kitchen or an office, is that one drawer that’s full of everything. You’re not sure how push pins and paperclips ended up with the warranty for the blender you don’t own anymore, but you accept it at this point. There are expired coupons, your sharpest scissors, and maybe even your spouse’s passport all tucked away in that gosh forsaken drawer for the miscellaneous.” – Hannah P.
- “[Fibro] fog is like being the new kid in school and trying to answer a question on a subject you haven’t studied.” – @ddub
- “[It’s] like playing Scrabble. You know you have all the right letters to make the perfect word. But you can’t put the letters in the right order.” – Leslie W.
- “It’s like being a drunk, drugged ostrich with your head stuck in the ground! You feel disoriented, unfocused and like you suddenly lost all the sense god gave you! It’s not fun!” – Sandra V.
- “Fibro fog is like when you decide you’d really like a cup of coffee so you dump some coffee in the basket, fill up the pot, and turn it on, come back a few minutes later and pour a cup take a drink and then realize you forgot to put a filter in the basket before you put the coffee grounds in. So you pour it down the drain and put a filter in and water in but forget the coffee so you put in a new filter and put coffee in, fill the pot with fresh cold water and dump it in and you go back a couple minutes later and realize you didn’t turn the coffee maker back on.” – @debmomof4kids
- “Fibro fog feels like I was put on a merry-go-round for a length of time then let off! It’s an awful, nauseating feeling of car sickness with a serious headache!” – Debbie M.
- “Brain fog for me is like having my head filled with Jello. It takes up space, but it’s basically a blob of goo. I can’t seem to participate in conversation, my memory is shot, it’s like my grasp on reality is just jiggly.” – Wendy C.
- “I tend to think of it like someone has replaced my brain with cotton balls. I feel like my thinking just moves so slowly and there’s just a bunch of fluff in my head some days.” – Jaymee W.
- “I’m like a toddler who doesn’t know what to get at the grocery store because I can’t read my list.” – @deb1652
- “Fibro fog to me feels like my brain is literally inside a marshmallow. Everything feels tender and disconnected at the same time. My sentences and words get messed up and backward. I feel like I’m disassociating almost. Like my body is here but my brain is a few steps behind me and I can never catch up.” – Samantha W.
- “It’s like a poorly functioning search engine. The information is in my brain (the internet), but the search is running slowly and the results might not be what I was looking for.” – Pamela T.
- “I tell people my brain went to mush, or that it just went empty. Often I am talking to someone and suddenly the words stop coming to me, and I have to look around for help. I have some good people in my life that help by offering details, but sometimes I just have to keep saying whatever words will come and hope they make sense. Example: One time I watched some kids cross the street in the middle of the block at night while I was driving some friends home. I told my friends, ‘Wow, they should really use a stop watch when they cross the street this time of night!’ But other times, I can’t remember the words at all and I get so hung up and end up in tears. I used to be so good with words.” – Travis F.
- “It feels like my brain is stuck in a cage. The words and answers are there, I can see them but don’t have immediate access. Sometimes I can pry the bars open enough for info to slip through.” – @hubs
- “It’s like a dog out playing catch with their owner until they see a squirrel then off they go. I apparently see a lot of squirrels!” – Tracie M.
- “It’s like going to sleep in your own bed then waking up somewhere else with the flu. ‘Fog’ is very descriptive. It feels like your brain has turned fog, literally.” – @gudwych
- “It’s like taking a simple walk in the park and suddenly you’re pushed into a giant vat of petroleum jelly. Everything is slow and blurry. Your thoughts and movements are labored and unclear. Your energy is zapped. You feel heavy and unable to free yourself and no one else is able to throw you a lifeline.” – Nicole W.
- “Fibro fog is an invisible elephant that lives in your skull. Your mind is heavier. It works slower. You forget things you’ve known all your life, albeit temporarily.” – Isabel T.
- “Fibro fog can make the most basic of information seem like a mirror image that is sitting right next to the real thing. You have the information but when you attempt to grasp it and use it, your hand passes right through it, effectively creating a state of confusion as to why you cannot access the information that you know you have.” – Dawn G.
- “I’d describe it as trying to navigate a world that’s made of cotton wool when I’m drunk. Everything is spongy and thick and I have to wade through it, clawing my unsteady way through while it clouds all of my senses.” – Elaine R.
- “[It feels like] when you are looking through stew thinking it’s soup and somehow you have to get only carrots out of that shit.” – Dana D.
- “Fibro fog feels like all the data is there, but the wires to retrieve the data aren’t connecting. I know that I know what state Denver is in, but out of my mouth comes, ‘Texas?’” – Jenny L.
- “Fibro fog to me is just like driving on the road on a real foggy day. You will be driving down the road slowly with dim lights on, nothing in sight but fogginess. It can be scary, frustrating, irritating and cause anxiety. Then all of a sudden, you see some dim lights and it’s a car, right there [in front of] you! Just like your mind in fibro fog.” – Nikki E.
- “Fibro fog is wading through a large vat of mashed potatoes trying to find your glasses.” – Cynthia W.
- “Conversationally, I often feel as if I’m standing alone in pitch black darkness. Above my head there is a dimly lit stream of jumbled words flying by at speeds almost too fast to read. I feel exhausted just trying to muster the strength to ‘jump up’ and grab the right words, arrange and then relay them correctly to make the things I’m trying to say make sense. Sometimes I just can’t help but stay silent and observe. Typing that just now made me feel tired.” – Troy H.
- “[Fibro fog is] when you’re driving on autopilot, arrive at your destination, and have no idea how you go there.” – Jennifer B.
- “I feel sometimes like my ‘brain fog’ is like trying to think through taffy or caramel in my brain. Everything is slow, sticky, and it takes a ton of effort to concentrate and focus!” – Dalia H.
- “[Fibro] fog is like trying to play the piano with your knuckles. You know all the notes and chords but you can’t exactly figure out how to press the key right.” – @hannity-789
If you don’t have fibromyalgia or experience fibro fog, hopefully these metaphors can help you better understand what it feels like. If you do have fibromyalgia, please know that your experiences are valid and what you feel matters.
To learn more about fibro fog and how it affects people with fibromyalgia, check out the following stories from our Mighty community:
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Author: Veronica Vivona