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How I Would Explain 'Fibro Fog' to Someone Who Hasn't Experienced It

The air is heavy with it — the fog. It’s like standing in a barren field waiting for rainfall. You can smell the moisture in the air, and your skin pricks in anticipation. The air surrounding you thickens, making it next to impossible to breathe. Fibro fog, they call it. It’s a classic symptom of fibromyalgia and a quite unpleasant one at that. That’s not to say that any of the symptoms are pleasant, but I particularly dislike this one. It impacts every aspect of your daily life, and typically there is nothing you can do about it. My God, does that sound bleak.

How can I even begin to describe the fog to someone who has never experienced it? I can only attempt to explain it to you, and I hope my explanation does it justice.

Have you ever lost yourself? Like, truly lost yourself in your own world? It’s like that, but unwillingly. One moment you’re sitting at your desk working on a task, and the next moment? You disappear. The computer screen blurs, your eyes focus in on something insignificant in the distance, and sound begins to fade. All of a sudden, you are capable of nothing and you have become a useless creature. Where your mind went to, not even you know. You’re not thinking about anything. You’ve completely spaced out, and the task you were working on seems impossible.

How can I even begin to describe the fog to someone who has never experienced it? I can only attempt to explain it to you, and I hope my explanation does it justice. Have you ever lost yourself? Like truly lost yourself in your own world? It’s like that, but unwillingly. One moment you’re sitting at your desk working on a task, and the next moment? You disappear. The computer screen blurs, your eyes focus in on something insignificant in the distance, and sound begins to fade. All of a sudden you are capable of nothing, and you have become a useless creature. Where your mind went to, not even you know. You’re not thinking about anything. You’ve completely spaced out, and the task you were working on seems impossible.

Eventually, you’ll snap back, but you know you lost time. Once you’re back, you fear you’ll lose yourself again. This is not the first time this has happened, nor will it be the last. Working seems so trivial now. Whatever you were doing no longer seems important. You know you should get back to work, but the anxiety has kicked in now. You’re anxious because you can’t control what just happened. You’re anxious because you don’t want this to happen anymore, but you know it will. You hope no one noticed you were gone for a bit, as that would be embarrassing. Unless it has happened to you, you could never understand.

At this point you probably feel hopeless, like what you just described is going to ruin your life. While it will make it unpleasant, it’s not the end all be all. Embrace the fog. Walk, skip or maybe even run through it. No matter what it takes to get to the other side, do it. You may lose time. You may lose yourself for a while, but you will come back. You are the only one who can rediscover who you are.

MORE ABOUT FIBROMYALGIA:

Fibromyalgia, a chronic illness with three main symptoms — widespread pain, chronic fatigue and cognitive trouble. Fibromyalgia is a complicated illness that’s not well understood. In the past, it was mischaracterized as a mental health disorder. Even today, some doctors wave off fibro symptoms as being “all in your head.” This isn’t the case. Read The Mighty’s comprehensive guide to fibromyalgia here. Click here to join our fibro community and connect with people who get it.

Getty Images photo via sapozhnik