9 memes you can relate to when you live with brain fog

Living with brain fog is super frustrating. You forget what you are saying while talking, or forget entire words. Loose your phone, your keys or other things while you just had it a minute ago.

These 9 memes will be relatable if you live with brain fog.

Forgot to buy bananas again….
Did I already tell you this?
I knew I went to get this sandwich!
What was my idea again? Let me retrace my steps, it might come back to me…
I knew I had them in my hand earlier…
I find my glass in the weirdest places!
And I’m telling her too, mom where did I leave my phone?
Is something bad? I don’t remember
uhm….

Brain fog moments can be funny too. At least they make us laugh.

Share your funny brain fog moments with us!

Why It Is Beneficial To Practice Yoga Whilst Traveling

Why It Is Beneficial To Practice Yoga Whilst Traveling

Yoga can act as a multi-purpose remedy for people of all age groups. It has therapeutic properties within each yogic movement that are good for the mind, body, and soul. 

During your moments of wanderlust and planning your travel, when you have decided your favorite destination to go to, you don’t want any moments of severe symptoms or anxiety to impact your holiday once you’re on your way. It’s good to think positively about your future journey, but it’s wise to also take the necessary precautions. If you have impaired mobility, neurological dysfunction, fatigue, pain, etc., you may end up experiencing anxiety, less social interaction or even depression. In an effort to minimize such experiences, you can calm your symptoms or yourself with Yoga. 

Meditation, Pranayama, or Yoga are exercises that can be performed anywhere. Therefore, while traveling, yoga can help relieve the symptoms of chronic illnesses. It works as a stress-buster as you increase qualities such as compassion, focus, improved memory, and better concentration. It may seem like too much of a challenge to maintain a yoga routine while traveling. What if you have to face uninvited challenges? However, it’s worth it. Yoga works as a booster to elevate your moods. Researchers have found and proven that Meditators are more self-aware and come through the stress-related problems to live a quality life. 

The Benefits Of Practicing Yoga Whilst Travelling

The Benefits Of Practicing Yoga Whilst Travelling

Yoga is extremely beneficial, especially while traveling. Why? Because it promotes better health, allowing you to make the most of your holiday. Yoga, Meditation, Pranayama, and similar yogic practices can also help with clearing brain fog, which many people with chronic illness experience. Meditation also helps in clearing out the clutter that is causing emotional instability. It gives a clear perspective and a focused mindset while the Pranayama also helps in flushing out the toxins to reward you with a refreshed state of mind.

While traveling it is important to maintain healthy habits and to be aware of your surroundings. Create a safe space for yourself! It is important to look after yourself when you are trying to balance work and family life. People often ignore the more subtle elements of their health because they are too focused on dealing with the lives of other people. Yoga makes sure that you take care of your mental and physical health, because only then can you take care of others. 

How to establish your own yoga routine so you can take it with you anywhere

Establish your own yoga routine so you can take it with you anywhere

To start your yoga journey as someone who experiences chronic illness, consider private instructors initially; join gentle and restorative classes; practice Yoga from online sources or digital media. A little bit of stretching and deep breathing can be a benefit to almost anyone. So, travelers must consider this wonderful hack to give priority to their health while still making the most of their adventures. Let Yoga be your travel partner, a guide that can help protect you from all the bad forces of life with the natural power it inherits.

Look at the positive side of the world and appreciate every with grace. Staying positive is a weapon that not many people can fully embrace, but many people chase this state of mind as an infinite goal. So, if practicing yoga interests you, grasp motivation and start your journey. After all, being alive is a gift in itself to cherish! 

Bipin Baloni is a passionate Yogi, Yoga Teacher and a Traveller in India. He organizes 200 hours of yoga teacher training in various cities in India and Nepal. He also conducts AyurvedaCourses in Kerala He loves writing and reading books related to yoga, health, nature, Himalayas and Trekking in Nepal .

Why The “You Can Do Anything If You Try” Narrative Is Harmful to Chronically Ill and Disabled Youth

We hear the phrase “you can do anything if you try,” or something similar, throughout our entire lives; starting at preschool and kindergarten and continuing throughout school. And sure, for many children this may be true; if they put their efforts into something, they may eventually master their craft and achieve all their goals.

However, this phrase completely ignores the fact that we each have our own unique strengths and weaknesses. Someone who is naturally good at maths is going to do far better in that subject than someone who is not. And that’s ok.

Why The "You Can Do Anything If You Try" Narrative Is Harmful to Chronically Ill and Disabled Youth

This phrase becomes even more illogical once you consider that it is also often applied to disabled and chronically ill youth. When experiencing a disability or chronic illness, you often can’t do certain things, no matter how hard you try. So why is it being drilled into disabled and chronically ill youth that they can? Isn’t this harmful? Wouldn’t this lead to false expectations and damaged self-esteem? 

You may be reading this and be thinking that I’m just cynical. This article may even be seen as a little negative and controversial. However, for me, finally realising that I couldn’t do ‘everything if I put enough effort into it’ was freeing. I’ll explain why;

Coming to the realisation that I can’t do everything I try

After a lifetime of feeling like I haven’t been achieving enough (through my grades, sport, etc.), last year I had to give up studying the course that would have led me to my dream career due to my health. I felt so dejected because all my life I had been taught that I can do anything if I try hard enough.

Why The "You Can Do Anything If You Try" Narrative Is Harmful to Chronically Ill and Disabled Youth

The thing is, I WAS trying. I was working myself into exhaustion, but it still wasn’t enough. I felt like I wasn’t enough. I felt horrible about myself, to the point of feeling depressed. However, I got back up and found another course that I would be able to study without having as big of an impact on my health. I still felt horrible, but I did my best and found that this course was a lot better for me.

Six months in, I came to a realisation. I didn’t fail at continuing with the previous course because I wasn’t trying hard enough, I failed at continuing because my health didn’t allow it. It wasn’t apathy on my part, it was an actual, physical limitation.

Once I accepted my limitations, this led me to become a lot more accepting of myself. I wish I had come to this conclusion sooner; it would have saved me a lot of heartache. 

Being told that I could do anything I wanted as a child set me up for a lot of disappointment. And despite how harmful this narrative is, I see evidence that it is still being told to children every single day. Here are some other phrases that are often directed at chronically ill and disabled youth that also fit within this narrative:

“The only disability in life is a bad attitude.” 

This one especially upsets me. It wasn’t a bad attitude that caused me to experience immense chronic pain on a daily basis starting in childhood. It isn’t a bad attitude that has left me using a walking cane most of the day to get around.

This phrase takes the word “disability”, a word that has a lot of meaning to a lot of people, and tries to change the definition completely. This phrase frames disability as apathy towards carrying out tasks, rather than an actual inability to carry out these tasks. 

The “What’s your excuse?” comparisons

You may have seen memes depicting disabled athletes, with phrases written across them saying things such as “what’s your excuse?” or even worse, “Your excuse is invalid.” These memes basically use disabled people to shame others (including other disabled people) into thinking they need to adopt certain habits or push themselves past their limits. 

Why The "You Can Do Anything If You Try" Narrative Is Harmful to Chronically Ill and Disabled Youth

I understand wanting to come up with a viral, inspirational meme, but chronically ill and disabled people should not be exploited in the process. I know able-bodied and disabled people alike who agree that these memes are very harmful, especially in an age where social media is such a huge part of our lives, even more so for the youth.

My “excuse”, as they put it in the second quote, is certainly not “invalid”. I will never be an award-winning athlete, as the constant pain and exhaustion make exercise difficult. I will never be an award-winning mathematician because the brain fog makes remembering formulas difficult. I’m ok with that.

As I said above, everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. Just because one disabled or chronically ill person achieves something, does not mean every other disabled or chronically ill person can.

You can’t judge a group of people by the actions of a few, and they certainly shouldn’t be shamed just because a member of the community has achieved something that they haven’t. 

“There’s no such word as ‘can’t’”

This phrase confused me a lot as a child. Mostly because my young brain would take it literally, and I knew the word “can’t” did exist. When I was presented with this phrase, for the longest time I would go fetch the dictionary to prove them wrong.

It also confused me because I knew there were things that I, and other humans, couldn’t do. I can’t fly independent of a form of aircraft. I can’t breathe underwater without using a snorkel or oxygen tank. The word “can’t” doesn’t have to be a negative word attributed to pessimists, and knowing when to accept your limits shouldn’t be considered negative either.

Why The "You Can Do Anything If You Try" Narrative Is Harmful to Chronically Ill and Disabled Youth

“Don’t let your disability define you.”

Another phrase that is often said to chronically ill or disabled youth is that we “shouldn’t let our disabilities/chronic illnesses hold us back” or “shouldn’t let our disabilities/chronic illnesses define us”. I find this to be a very naive take.

Sure, we aren’t wholly defined by our disability/ies, but what we are able to do often is. There are ways to overcome these challenges, but only to a certain extent. There are some things that, no matter how hard you push yourself, you’ll never be able to achieve.

Accepting that isn’t letting your disability define you, it’s understanding your limits and knowing there are better areas to concentrate your energy. 

I’ve even had people tell me that I shouldn’t talk about my chronic illness or disability – at all. That talking about my chronic illness or disability is letting my health control me and consume my thoughts.

My disability is a part of me. I can acknowledge my disability’s effect on my life and be proud of what I achieve despite it without letting it define me. Not to mention, it’s hard not to think about your chronic pain when you experience it every minute of the day… But that’s easy to ignore, right?

While on the surface these phrases may seem inspirational, they may do more harm than good when it comes to disabled and chronically ill youth. They can lead to false hope, which can chip away at the young person’s self-esteem when they don’t achieve everything they aim to like it did to me.

Not everyone can do everything, no matter how hard they try. Instead, we should be encouraging disabled and chronically ill youth to try their hardest to achieve goals that are realistic, yet also push and challenge them at the same time.

If there’s one thing I want disabled and chronically ill youth to take away from this article, it is that you should feel comfortable doing what you CAN. With the help of those who care about you, set your own pace in life.

Push yourself, but not so hard that your goals become unachievable. Don’t let society tell you that trying your hardest isn’t good enough, because it is. Know that you are enough.

About The Author

Amy Clements is a 20-year-old who has lived with chronic pain, the result of Fibromyalgia, since childhood. In her teens she was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome in her wrist, which was the result of a netball injury. Amy lives in New Zealand and studies Business part-time at University. She enjoys reading novels and writing. She especially enjoys writing about her experience with chronic illness.

The Side Effects Of Having Fun When You Have A Chronic Illness

I guess you could say that I have the interests of an average 19-year-old girl. I like to read, watch makeup tutorials, and binge watch series on Netflix. I also enjoy hanging out with friends and socialising, when I have the energy to. Having struggled with the chronic pain of Fibromyalgia since childhood has shaped my adolescence in many ways.

The Side Effects Of Having Fun When You Have A Chronic Illness

An Average Girl

There are so many things that I wanted to do but couldn’t. I wanted to play sports throughout high school, I wanted to go overseas for a gap year after graduating, and I wanted to study Speech-Language Therapy at university once I got back. As a result of my chronic pain, none of these things was meant to be.

While this upsets me, I do everything that I can to ensure that my chronic pain limits my day-to-day life as little as possible, especially my social life. Besides just hanging out, something I love doing with my friends is going out dancing. As you can imagine, dancing (or more like swaying side to side, in my case), is exhausting.

Going out for a single night of dancing can leave me flaring for up to a week afterwards. Another thing I like to do, that I don’t do nearly as often as dancing, is going to the theme park. This can easily become a full day affair. The constant walking along with the jarring of the rides can leave my entire body aching for days.

Some people may scoff at my enjoyment of these activities. After all, why would I do something that causes me pain? The answer is this: everything I do causes me pain. I’m in pain every second of the day. I’m in pain while I walk, I’m in pain while I sit, and I’m in pain while I rest.

When pain and/or fatigue rules your life so thoroughly, it can become a goal to not let it stop you from having fun. It’s almost as if I have something to prove to myself; that I won’t let the pain take my ability to have fun away. And luckily, it hasn’t. However, having fun with chronic illness can often cause side effects.

The Pain In The Moment

For me, the pain that I experience in the moment of doing an activity can definitely put a damper on any fun I may be having. As the day develops, my pain slowly gets worse. Having pain in one area is bad enough, however having pain that is spread throughout your entire body can be so incredibly overwhelming. The pain can sometimes result in me unconsciously becoming very grumpy, which can ruin the rest of the day.

Not only does pain impact any activities I take part in, but it also prevents me from doing specific activities that I would otherwise want to do. Despite me enjoying being active (it’s the resulting pain that I don’t enjoy), I can’t take part in activities such as hiking and kayaking because they raise my pain to unbearable levels.

Of course I often I push myself to do activities that I know will result in heaps of pain, however, it becomes a fine balance between being able to barely cope with the pain, and curling up in a ball, moaning as pain consumes me. I like to avoid the latter option.

The Side Effects Of Having Fun When You Have A Chronic Illness

Brain Fog

Another symptom that can ruin my fun is brain fog. For me, brain fog is very distracting, especially if I’m out trying to have fun. I feel like no matter how hard I try to concentrate; I can’t think or talk straight. Most of the time I have brain fog I feel like I can barely string a sentence together, that I’m talking nonsense.

When the brain fog is at its worst, I feel like my mind and mouth are numb. I can’t bring myself to speak, no matter how much I want to. I also can’t process what people are saying to me easily. Since this level of brain fog only occurs when I’m in very extreme levels of pain, I normally have warning signs leading up to this and can get myself home before I lose the ability to communicate.

The Recovery Time

Depending on how much energy I expend on an activity, my recovery can take anywhere from 3 days to an entire week. If I continually exhaust myself day after day without resting for a few or more days, I can be left feeling ill for weeks. I have learned this the hard way.

Every person with chronic illness has different symptoms that they experience during their ‘recovery period’. These symptoms can include muscle cramps, fever, flu-like symptoms, migraines, and of course likely the most common one, fatigue.

Recovery for me usually consists of lying in bed, too tired and too sore to get up for anything that isn’t imperative. I get an ache that is somehow both dull and sharp throughout my entire body and having such widespread pain only adds to my exhaustion.

So far, besides medication and rest, I haven’t found anything that helps with this kind of pain once it’s occurring. As a result of this, whenever I am planning something that I know will leave me flaring, I try to make sure that I don’t have any responsibilities (such as exams) or events for at least three days after the activity. That way, I can recover without missing out on something important or having to push myself.

The Guilt

I worry that whenever I’m seen out having fun, or whenever I post a picture of myself having fun on Instagram or Facebook, that people may see this as evidence that I’m not sick or that I’m making my symptoms up. In some countries, the social media accounts of chronically ill people are being used to determine whether or not they are “sick enough” to receive disability cheques from the government.

I find this ridiculous as I’m more likely to post a photo of myself on the rare occasions that I’m dressed up to go out, then I am to post one when I’m at home, barely able to move because of pain. Going out and having fun when you have a chronic illness a bit of a catch-22.

If chronically ill people don’t do enough, then they’re called lazy. If they do too much, then they aren’t sick anymore. Having a chronic illness and going about life is hard enough without having to face the judgement of others.

The Side Effects Of Having Fun When You Have A Chronic Illness

How To Have Fun With Fewer Side Effects

When I want to spend time with my friends but I’m flaring badly, I invite a friend or two over for a sleepover or a movie and some drinks (the legal drinking age is 18 here). It may seem kind of juvenile, but I will never get too old for sleepovers. This way, I can sit on the couch or lie in bed while catching up with besties. This is also a great time to catch up on Netflix movies.

If there’s no way to avoid a lot of physical activity that day, I make sure to keep my medication on me in case my pain levels become high.  Keeping your medication on you guarantees that if you need it for whatever reason, you have some on you.

Another tip for high activity days is if you are easily exhausted, don’t be too self-conscious to use a walking or mobility aid. My walking aid of choice is a walking cane, since it’s less harsh on my shoulders and back then crutches. Since the common stigma for walking canes is that they are exclusively for use of the elderly, I used to push myself too far because I was worried I would be judged for using a walking cane.

If the place we’re attending has a wheelchair that can be loaned out, such as a mall or a zoo, I will borrow the wheelchair if I know that I’m going to have a rough pain day. I don’t have a wheelchair (for ambulatory use) of my own yet, however, it is definitely a goal of mine.

If you’re heat/sun sensitive, try to choose activities where you can spend a lot of time in the shade. If sun hats and sunglasses help, make sure to keep some on you. Also, no matter what your symptoms are, keeping hydrated is important for your general daily well being. Make sure that you keep a bottle of water on you if you’re going to be out of the house for more than an hour at a time.

Having fun when you have a chronic illness can be very difficult, however, it is so important. It is easy to think that chronic illness takes the fun out of life, however, that isn’t the case. While I’m in pain every second of every day, I still aim to make the best of the life I’ve been given.

About The Author

Amy Clements is a 20-year-old who has lived with chronic pain, the result of Fibromyalgia, since childhood. In her teens she was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome in her wrist, which was the result of a netball injury. Amy lives in New Zealand and studies Business part-time at University. She enjoys reading novels and writing. She especially enjoys writing about her experience with chronic illness.

Me, Myself and My Fibromyalgia!

At the age of 14, I fell off a stack of gym mats at school and I hurt my knee. At first, the doctor thought it was just a sprain, but as the months went on my injury did not seem to get any better. This is where my journey of having a chronic illness all started.

For twelve long years, I was as healthy as I could be on paper…but every day was a struggle. I was in a lot of pain and nobody seemed to know where it was coming from. I was feeling so tired I sometimes would fall asleep while talking. At least once a month I had to call in sick at work and one by one I started to lose friends. Some of them even labeled me a hypochondriac. Nobody seemed to understand the struggle I was going through.

the doctor thought it was just a sprain, but as the months went on my injury did not seem to get any better

I was sent to a physiotherapist and he was able to provide me with some exercises, next to weekly electrotherapy sessions, which made my knee injury a little better.

Allergic to a flu?

At the end of the summer of 2009, I went to visit a friend for the weekend, on the way home I started to feel sick. My head was hurting and the “brain fog” I always felt was so bad I couldn’t remember how to open my front door.

My fingers started to swell up and breathing became difficult. I had caught the Mexican flu somewhere along the way and it came in hard. My body overreacted to this type of flu and as an allergic reaction I suddenly had developed acute Rheumatism. Every connected tissue (including all my joints) was inflamed and I was bedridden for nine weeks, mostly thinking this would kill me, it hurt that bad.

Not being able to move, meant not being able to go to the doctor!

Living in an Amsterdam apartment on the fourth floor meant I could not go to the doctor so he came to me. After several blood tests, he diagnosed me, there was nothing else to do but to take painkillers, anti-inflammatory and wait till it got any better.

Not being able to move, meant not being able to go to the doctor!

Going to the bathroom from my bed was only a three metre distance, which took me half an hour as I had to crawl there. I was in agony and at one point breathing became so difficult, I thought I was going to die. Luckily my sister and her husband were living around the corner and were able to help me with things. My sister made sure I had food in the house and kept me company several hours a day, her husband helped me (when he wasn’t at work) by carrying me to the bathroom so I wouldn’t have to crawl there and back.

Recovery was what got me diagnosed.

Recovery was tough, but my physiotherapist (the same one I had, every month ever since my accident at the age of 14) was the one that told me he thought he knew what I was dealing with. Fibromyalgia! Before he mentioned this I had never heard of Fibromyalgia and immediately I read up on everything there was to read about this illness.

A few years along the line

About three years ago I found out by chance I also have a severe gluten intolerance, which made me sicker, on top of my Fibromyalgia. I now eat gluten free which helps me keep my health up as much as possible. I exercise daily and have a strict sleeping routine, of going to bed and waking up on set times.

Now, about ten years after my diagnosis, I have learned that I will never know what tomorrow will bring to my body and health. Mentally it has put me through highs and lows and I have learned how to enjoy my life instead of feeling depressed about having a chronic illness.

I went from somebody who doctors thought would end up in a wheelchair before 35, to a woman capable of living life to the fullest, and by adjusting to my illness and accepting my illness, I sometimes even forget I have Fibromyalgia.

About The Author

Born and raised in Amsterdam. Sarah always knew she needed to travel the world. She began travelling at the age of 19 and has traveled to and lived in over 25 countries.

Being confronted with a chronic illness at a young age, which has never stopped her dreaming of the next place to travel too.

Together with her 3 dogs Sarah now lives on the Canary Islands where she teaches English, works as a self-employed translator and copywriter and occasionally provides dog training lessons.

Depression: In The Depths Of The Nothingness

Depression: In The Depths Of The Nothingness

Writing may be one of my biggest loves in this life, but it’s also one of my biggest struggles thanks to my health. As a person with chronic illnesses and major mental health struggles, I don’t write as much as I would like to or as much as I used to.

I still find the same release in writing that I always have found but, more often than not, I just can’t bring myself to write. Post-exertional malaise from my ME, and cognitive difficulty from my fibromyalgia makes the activity of writing difficult in itself, but there’s more to it than that for me; a different kind of blockage that can be hard to pin down.

Depression: In The Depths Of The Nothingness

The Blockage

This piece has been doubly difficult for me to write. Not just because of the writing process itself, but because of the subject matter. I chose to write an article for Mental Health Week about depression. And depression makes me lose interest in the things I love. There’s definitely an irony in struggling to write about depression because of depression, isn’t there?

I want my writing to make others feel less alone, but how on earth was I going to approach this topic? When it comes to something as multifaceted as mental health, it can be difficult to know where to even start. My brain quickly got to work on bullying me.

Why would anyone want to read something you wrote anyway?

You have nothing interesting to say. All your work is bland and rubbish, just like you.

I don’t know why you even bother.

There are too many better writers out there. You’ll never be taken seriously.

Your thoughts aren’t valuable enough to be paid attention to.

So here I am, scrambling around inside my foggy brain trying to ignore the bullying thoughts in my head and to figure out whether anything I have to say about depression will even make sense enough to shape into an article.  

Describing The Indescribable?

Up until a few years ago, I thought of depression as an intruder. It would fully catch me off guard, kind of like a huge predator stalking in the shadows and then jumping out in front of me when I least expected it. Some people describe depression as a black dog which won’t leave you alone. As my life has gone on, I’ve come to see it more as some kind of dangerous plant, thriving in the darkness and slowly growing; creeping its way into my life until I’m swamped.

Its roots are deep, and its vines reach further and further into my present consciousness until I can feel them grasping me by the limbs and the throat, pulling me backwards into the dark. Sometimes the vines loosen their grip and retreat, and I can breathe again but, even then, I still know they’re only biding their time. They’re still there, lurking…ready to creep out of the shadow again at some point. And as the years have gone on, each trauma or stress that life has thrown my way has only strengthened the roots in those murky depths of my psyche. 

As well as the stigma, there’s a lot of misconceptions out there about depression. People often think that feeling down for a few days or a couple of weeks is being depressed. It’s not. That’s just feeling blue, which is something that most people experience at some point in their lives. Feeling down occasionally is part of our normal range of human emotion, just like feeling sad is. Feeling sad when something bad happens is not depression. That’s a normal reaction to something bad happening, and will usually dissipate with time. When the low mood persists long-term, that’s when it becomes a problem. 

Doctors and psychologists usually look out for common symptoms when diagnosing depression, such as a loss of interest in things that you normally enjoy, feelings of worthlessness or of despair, feelings of unrealness and even urges to harm yourself in some way. Check out this guide from the charity Mind to find out more about symptoms, causes and potential treatment options. Their website is also full of resources about other mental health disorders and information about where to find help.

The Numbness 

Perhaps my least favourite symptom that comes from being in a depressive episode is what I now call the nothingness. This is something that I have experienced since I was a teenager and still frightens me to this day when it happens. It’s not that I feel sad, or upset or even down, I just feel…nothing. In these times my emotional range seems to just shut down. I can’t feel anything or recall how emotions normally feel. It is the complete absence of feeling, and I wouldn’t wish it on anybody. It is the most isolating thing I have ever experienced, and every time I feel my mental health slipping I become fearful of that emotional numbing.

Perhaps my least favourite symptom that comes from being in a depressive episode is what I now call the nothingness.

When I’m numb, I would kill to feel sad or angry because then at least I would feel something. Many people I’ve tried to express this to simply can’t wrap their heads around it. I discovered a few months ago that this kind of emotional shutdown can be a response to past psychological trauma.

Going back to writing, it’s really no surprise that I struggle to do it a lot of the time. It’s sometimes like the parts of my brain that feed into creativity have been boarded up like an old abandoned house. It’s like somebody cauterized by ability to even think clearly, let alone comprehend those thoughts and translate them into words. 

Depression

Depression makes it feel as though my brain just won’t work in the way it’s supposed to; the way I know it can work. It feels like there is a thick cloud of fog filling up the spaces in my head. Things don’t seem right; things don’t make sense. I can’t even make decisions. The smallest of decisions feels disproportionately impossible. Do I want a glass of water or a glass of juice? Do I prefer red or blue? Am I a good person or a bad person for the answers I picked? I can’t decide what I want to watch, what I want to read, what music I want to listen to.

I know that I’m passionate about things, somewhere beneath all the fog, but those things seem shapeless; far away from me. I feel completely disconnected from myself, as though the body and mind I inhabit do not belong to me. I interact with my surroundings, but it’s all robotic. I’m not sure what is real.

It’s a cruel state of mind to be in. Perhaps it’s even crueller that all of this is invisible to the world around you and can be masked by a simple “I’m fine!” when somebody asks you how you’re feeling.

We have to be brave enough to answer “I’m not fine.”

About the Author:

Charlotte is a 26 year old writer from West Yorkshire in England. After a spinal cord tumour left her disabled at 19, she started writing about her experiences alongside her university studies. Her blog is called Of Books and Stardust. She also has ME and fibromyalgia, and has experienced mental health problems for most of her life. She writes to raise visibility and to help others feel less alone. Charlotte adores literature, has always loved caring for pet bunnies (or do they care for her?) and is passionate about spirituality, paganism and witchcraft.

The Internal Struggles We Face with Multiple Chronic Illnesses.

Chronic illness is like eating potato chips – you can never have just one. At least that's true for me. I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease in 1995 and since then I have had an avalanche of multiple other chronic illness diagnoses. From Depression and Anxiety to Fibromyalgia and Bile Salt Malabsorption to Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Insomnia. I think the chronic nausea and diarrhea are there just for fun. I might have even missed a few, but you get the idea. I have a gamut of chronic nonsense happening writhing my body.

Chronic illness is like eating potato chips – you can never have just one.  At least that’s true for me. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in 1995 and since then I have had an avalanche of multiple other chronic illness diagnoses. From Depression and Anxiety to Fibromyalgia and Bile Salt Malabsorption to Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Insomnia.  I think the chronic nausea and diarrhea are there just for fun. I might have even missed a few, but you get the idea. I have a gamut of chronic nonsense happening writhing my body.

The Day to Day: What will flare and what won’t?!

Sometimes everything can remain in check.  My bowels remain relatively calm and only give me somewhat minor issues. My depression and anxiety are held at bay with more positive things that might be occurring in my life. My insomnia gets tired and finally goes to sleep so I can rest. And I can sometimes even manage to move just enough, or just little enough, that my Fibromyalgia is mostly quiet and I don’t hurt as much as I usually do. Though these moments are super rare, they do occasionally happen. It’s never for long and never, ever predictable, but the moments do occur. And in those moments I feel like what I imagine a healthy person feels like; or at least someone less like myself.

Then there are the days when everything works against each other to cause complete and total anarchy in my body and brain.  A typical day like that is one of the toughest because I’m not only fighting one of my chronic illnesses, I’m fighting all of them at once. When these days happen the illnesses are just continually feeding off of each other.  It’s like fighting a Hydra – cut one head off and three more grow in its place. These days are challenging and just as unpredictable as the really good days, but somehow they happen more often.

I'm not only fighting one of my chronic illnesses, I'm fighting all of them at once. When these days happen the illnesses are just continually feeding off of each other.  It's like fighting a Hydra – cut one head off and three more grow in its place.  These days are challenging and just as unpredictable as the really good days, but somehow they happen more often.

Inside My Mind and Body with Chronic Illness

Chronic illness is like eating potato chips – you can never have just one. At least that's true for me. I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease in 1995 and since then I have had an avalanche of multiple other chronic illness diagnoses. From Depression and Anxiety to Fibromyalgia and Bile Salt Malabsorption to Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Insomnia. I think the chronic nausea and diarrhea are there just for fun. I might have even missed a few, but you get the idea. I have a gamut of chronic nonsense happening writhing my body.

Follow me down this rabbit hole of chronic illness overload to experience what my body goes through, and how it talks to itself.

It usually starts in the early hours of the morning between 4:00am and 6:00am.

Brain:  “Wake up!”

Anxiety:  “Hey remember that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you’re going down a roller coaster? That weird adrenaline rush feeling? Here you go. Do you feel it?”

Stomach:  “Ahh! What the heck??!!”

Body:  “Please, I’m tired.  Let’s sleep. Nothing is going on.  I’m safe. I’m warm. I’m okay. Just sleep.  Please.”

Anxiety:  “Nope. We have things to worry about.”

Body:  “Don’t wanna.  Wanna sleep.” Tries to roll over but realizes it hurts.  Elbows and wrists are stiff and achy. Legs feel heavy.

Brain:  “Nope. Not happening.”  

Bowels:  “Hey, guess what’s up?  I am! And I gotta go. NOW!”

Brain:  “Can’t we ignore you, bowels? You never play fair.”

Bowels:  “No way – gotta go – NOW!”

Body:  Manages to sit up. “Ouch, my back!”

Body:  “Must to run to the bathroom.” Quickly realizes everything hurts. Screams silently from every muscle and joint but knows we must make it to the bathroom or we’ll have an accident.  Curses bowels.

Bowels:  “We’re done.  For now. Heh, heh.”

Body:  “Please let’s go back to sleep now.  Everything hurts.” Manages to lay back in bed and get covers on top of me.

Brain:  “You can try but it isn’t going to work. I’m getting cranky.”

Anxiety:  “Remember that thing that you said but you should have said this instead?  Let’s think about that and replay the conversation twelve different ways over and over even though we know it will never happen. C’mon, it’ll be fun!”

Brain:  “No, that’s dumb.  Don’t think about anything.  Just lay here and be quiet.”

Body:  “Yes! Let’s sleep more.”

Bowels:  “NO! Let’s go again!”

Body:  I’m so tired.  I hurt so bad. Okay, I guess we’re doing this.  Throws covers off and runs to the bathroom again.

Brain:  “Maybe I am tired now.  But now I hurt. I’m going to ache and throb now.”

Depression:  “I hate everything.  I wish we could just hide under the covers and never get out of bed again. Like, ever.”

Body:  Drags self back to bed. Attempts to get comfortable.

Stomach:  “Hello? Yes, I still hurt.  I’m still here. Here’s a bad cramp because I’m feeling left out.”

Anxiety:  “What if…”

Brain:  Throb, throb, throb.

Body:  “Drink water. I need water. I’m dehydrated. Get up and get water.”

Stomach:  “Don’t do it.  I’ll reject any sort of hydration or nutrition you give me.”

Bowels:  “If Stomach doesn’t reject it I will.  Oh hey, let’s go AGAIN!”

Body:  “Ugh!” Runs to bathroom again.  “I’m so tired. I just want to lay down on the floor.  That bathroom rug looks comfortable. Let’s lay down.”

Brain:  “That floor is going to hurt so bad.  You might get down there but how are you going to get back up?” Throb, throb.

Bowels:  “Oh we’ll make sure she gets up. Heh, heh.”

Body:  “Fine, forget the floor.  I’ll go to bed.” Finally gets back to the bed and gets somewhat comfortable. “Why do I hurt so bad?  I did nothing yesterday that would cause this pain. I need a hot shower. Hey Bowels, how long until the next …. oh!” Runs to the bathroom again.

Bowels:  “Yeah, we’re doing this every fifteen minutes.  No shower for you today!”

Body: “Meh, I’m too tired to shower now anyway.”

Brain:  “What time is it now?” Throb, throb.  “Oh, we’ve only been awake an hour? It’s going to be a long, bad day.”  Throb, throb, throb.

Depression:  “I’m so tired of this. No one possibly understands how bad this is.  No one cares. This isn’t living. This is terrible. If we lay here still enough can we just stop breathing?”

Anxiety:  “But what about all the things you need to do?  What about all the things you have done? Let’s stop and reassess everything in your life right now.  Hey, remember that time in third grade when…”

Brain:  Throb, throb,  “No please, no.  Just everyone shut up!  I’m hurting.” Throb, throb, throb.

Body:  “Hey, I’ve been hurting and just want to sleep but no one is listening to me!”

Inside my mind and body with multiple chronic illnesses. Sometimes all I want to do is sleep!

Stomach:  “I don’t feel so good either. Brain pain is making me feel sick.  I think might throw up.”

Body:  “Oh no, I cannot handle retching right now.  It’s going to hurt so bad and it already feels like someone took a baseball bat to my back. Let’s try to lay back down.”

Bowels:  “Haha! No!”

And so on and so forth throughout the day as the never ending cycle of what happens when all my chronic illnesses come together and work as one, slowly feeding off of each other in another attempt to destroy me.  It’s excruciating and it’s exhausting. But somehow, every single time I make it through. These days are the worst, and even though at the time when my body is continually arguing with itself, I somehow always know that I will make it through.  The next day might not be so bad, or the day after that. So I hang on, just one more day. Because eventually, I will get one of those good days where all my chronic illnesses play nice with each other. And those are the best days.

Jenni Lock is the creator of Jenni’s Guts blog and writes about her journey with intestinal nonsense and other chronic health issues. Her sense of humor, sarcasm, and willingness to talk about the things most people just think are all part of her charm. Jenni is a nurse, however is unable to work due to struggling with Crohn’s disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Bile Acid Malabsorption, chronic nausea and diarrhea, Fibromyalgia, Anxiety, Depression, Insomnia and PTSD. Learn more about Jenni and her guts at http://JennisGuts.blogspot.com.

Five Activities That Are Difficult When Living With Brain Fog

The Horror of Brain Fog

I know that we all have forgotten what we were saying mid-conversation or have spent 10 minutes looking for our keys. For most people, these are quick and sporadic events. But for those with chronic illnesses, it can be very different. Those with chronic illnesses generally use the term ‘brain fog’ (or something similar) to explain their moments of forgetfulness. But what is brain fog? Is it even a real thing?!? While it may sound like something from a horror movie, it’s quite the opposite.

The Horror of Brain Fog
The Horror of Brain Fog

What is Brain Fog?

Everyone has probably dealt with it at one time or another since it has many names. You may have heard of baby brain, chemo brain, Fibro fog or even Lupus fog just to name a few. But what is it really? Well, brain fog is a very broad term that encompasses lots of issues including problems focusing, learning, and memory. It can even cause short episodes of confusion or disorientation. This can also be a source of anxiety for some. While brain fog is probably not a serious condition, it is very frustrating and can interfere with daily life.

So what causes this condition? According to Healthline (https://www.healthline.com/health/brain-fog), brain fog can be caused by a wide array of conditions. Ranging from stress to lack of sleep, and hormonal changes to diet and medications. Based on this list of causes, it isn’t a condition that only the chronically ill deal with, it can potentially affect anyone.

Since we know what brain fog is, and have an idea of what causes it, let’s look at some things that are difficult for those dealing with brain fog.

Brain Fog
Brain Fog

Activities That Are Difficult When You Are Experiencing Brain Fog

Carrying on a conversation– For someone dealing with brain fog issues, it can be very hard at times to carry on a conversation. This is the case because at times it is difficult to continue a train of thought. If something distracts you, your whole train of thought may be gone, and you may or may not remember where you were going with what you were saying.

Writing – At times you may actually lose words altogether or use the wrong words. Yes, this is pretty normal for all people, but for people dealing with brain fog it can be more of a problem. Sometimes the word may come back to you and other times you may have to describe the word you are trying to remember because the word is totally gone.

Holding down a job– Not everyone who has issues with brain fog will have problems keeping a job. But for some with more extreme cases, it may be hard to continue to work, especially if you are in a job where speaking or writing may be part of your job description. This is because, as we talked about before, those two areas are sometimes the hardest for people dealing with this issue.

Remembering dates or appointments– This is often a BIG struggle for those dealing with brain fog. For many, chances are if you didn’t write down your next doctor’s appointment or dinner with a friend on a calendar, you may forget it. It is not intentional and can be hard for others to understand. But unless it’s on a calendar, the chances are high that you will forget something.

Cooking – This can actually be a potentially dangerous problem. Like with any other task it is easy for those dealing with this condition to walk away from the stove when they are distracted by something else. It also can be difficult at times to remember those recipes that have been passed down for generations.

Memory and Concentration Issues Occurring with Brain Fog
Memory and Concentration Issues Occurring with Brain Fog

Brain fog may seem like a joke or something, and we know how funny it can be at times when we use the completely wrong word. But for those who live with it on a daily basis, it is far from funny. There are many things that become much more difficult when your brain is foggy, and it is quite frustrating for the person dealing with it. So, if you have a family member or friend who suffers from any kind of cognitive disorder, please try to help them remember rather than laughing at them.

For more information on brain fog, check out Healthline’s 13 Things You Know Too Well If You Live with Brain Fog, as well as WebMD’s Reasons You May Have Brain Fog.

Amber writes at theworldseesnormal.com. She is a Registered Nurse by trade but due to her illness, she is no longer able to work outside the home, though her years of medical background give her a different point of view on many topics. Her goal in life has become raising awareness for the issues those with chronic conditions face, as well as for the conditions themselves. She also wants to make sure that those suffering from a chronic illness know that they are not alone in their fight.