The Analogy I Use to Describe Brain Fog


Brain fog and word finding struggles. For me, this is one of the most difficult, emotionally painful things to deal with as a young person with complex chronic illness. And I know people with head and/or brain injuries, mental illness, or other medical conditions that require multiple strong medications, will probably relate as well.

It can feel discouraging, embarrassing and humiliating when I can’t find the words to say what I want to say. When I use the wrong words, say a word backwards, fumble and lose my way in a conversation or have to ask you to repeat yourself numerous times, I have to fight to not kick myself because of it. I find I’m often apologizing for myself and sometimes try to laugh it off, but the hurt goes deep. I want to be the person I was, the one I still feel like I am on the inside. But it feels like that inner girl is bogged down by the weight of her disease, and the resulting brain fog. So she expends huge energy to wade through it. Here is an analogy:

You are surrounded by a dense thick fog. You have no idea where you are, but you are weary, cold and tired. It’s hard to think straight about anything. Your feet are bogged in thick, sticky, knee-high mud and the debris that you get caught on, often trips you. You have something to say, but it’s not as easy because to say what you want you must wade through all this first and words aren’t easy to find, some you have to climb for. It’s an effort. You press on to find a way out.

A way out has yet to be found. Some days the fog is not so heavy, and the mud not so deep, and it seems easier – but then other days it’s impossible and you can hardly move. On days like these, it’s seems impossible. It’s just too hard, you can’t even think your words clearly let alone say them. On these days, you regret to say, you hide. This mud and fog is in your brain. You must push through it to express what you think, feel and want to communicate.

This is the battle for many with brain fog as a part of their disease. You know what you want to say and how to explain it, but your brain is so tired that that you can not articulate it like you wish or know you can. It’s invisible, it’s hidden, it’s daily, and it’s totally unrelenting. You wonder if it was a nightmare you’ll wake from, but morning comes and it’s all very real. And yet you persist. You want to be that person that you were. Before every facet of life became so tough. You must confront that internal battle every day to get your thoughts expressed.

I grieve that person that, unshackled by the chains of my disease, I know I could be. I imagine all I could achieve, how much more fluently I could speak! What my energy would allow me to do and get done!

I’m not the only one. This is the daily battle of many who fight hidden disease, chronic pain, epilepsy, head injury andmental illness.

Thank you to my crew who are incredible with helping me deal with this very personal inner struggle, as do my closest family and friends who see that struggle and help me through it…It can be embarrassing, and it is hard as a young person to admit it. That it is as hard as it is.

This story originally appeared here.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Chronic Illness

Colorful sticky notes of question marks.

5 Questions I Wish People Would Stop Asking Me About My Illness

Sometimes people (even loved ones) ask me questions that, while they seem to be innocent, hint at a deeper misunderstanding of what “chronic” means. These questions can even make you feel as if you’re being blamed for something you have no control over. Here are just five questions I wish people will stop asking me. [...]
The cast of (Sorta) Supportive at a table read for the show.

(Sorta) Supportive, a Show About Teens With Chronic Illness, Could Be Coming Your Way

A new TV comedy series will chronicle the lives of a group of teenagers with chronic illnesses, according to Deadline. “(Sorta) Supportive” will include actors with chronic illnesses or those who have family members with chronic illnesses. Travis Flores, the show’s producer and writer, has cystic fibrosis and is the recipient of a double lung [...]
woman holding umbrella protecting herself from colored splashes, digital art style, illustration painting

We Must Do Better: A Message to My Fellow Spoonies

Listen up, fellow chronic pain and chronic illness warriors. We need to have a chat. You are my tribe, you are my soul. I feel you within my tired bones and recognize my imperfect face tucked away in your scars like intricate origami. You remind me that my brokenness is beautiful and that I am more [...]
19 Parts of Weight Fluctuations and Chronic Illness No One Talks About

19 Parts of Weight Fluctuations and Chronic Illness No One Talks About

Thanks to fluctuating symptoms, pain, medications and surgeries, chronic illness can alter your appearance in subtle and larger ways — and one of the most emotionally-charged changes you may experience is gaining or losing weight. In a world where people often assume you’re healthier at certain sizes than others, that can create some frustration among [...]