We experience a complicated mix of symptoms (just ask all those doctors we visit), the most frequent of which are an overwhelming feeling of fatigue (this is my personal favourite!) and pain.
For those new to FM, one of its hallmarks can be very scary – Fibro Fog
Fibro fog is a complete and utter lack of energy (even after a full night’s sleep) that causes an inability to focus or concentrate. This exhaustion makes it difficult to exert mental or physical energy for anything. Fibro fog is a real cognitive impairment that makes simple tasks, such as remembering names or following directions, difficult if not impossible. There are, however, a few ways to help that don’t involve medications (because sometimes it’s those medications that make the fog worse!)
- Pace yourself. Don’t pile on too many tasks for each day, and the ones that must get done should be scheduled for your “best” time of day. If the fog lifts more in the morning, schedule important meetings or other tasks early.
- Develop a routine. This gives a predictable structure to the day so there is less need for remembering what is supposed to happen when.
- Keep it simple. Write lists, take notes, and utilize a personal planner. Keep your space organized and clutter-free, and deal with any paper (mail, bills, etc.) as soon as you get it to stay organized.
- Get physical. People with FM report that physical activity relieves the painful symptoms, and research shows that moderate daily activity eases symptoms of depression and encourages better sleep.
- Control your stress. There is a strong link between stress and chronic pain; practice deep breathing, visualization, and other meditative techniques to deal with or plan for stressful situations!
There are some new online brain-training sites such as Lumosity that have shown some promise in helping people develop concentration, flexibility in thinking, and otherwise increasing the neuroplasticity of the brain. These are free or low-cost, easy to try, and may help lift the fog over time.
For families of FM patients, it is important to understand that fibro fog is real. Be supportive and help to keep schedules reasonable and stress to a minimum. Participate in physical activity with your loved one, and help them to remember important events. The more stress you can alleviate, the better off everyone will be!