Impaired cognitive function – commonly referred to as brain fog – is a common symptom of dysautonomia. Although the brain fog doesn’t cause the same kind of physical pain and discomfort as other symptoms, it is often a large source of frustration. It can contribute to some patient’s inability to work, and make simple everyday tasks much harder.
I am someone who enjoys intellectual challenges and critical thinking exercises. I have always enjoyed stretching my mind and pushing my brain to think differently. I was a good student, and am often referred to as “smart.” But for me, nothing makes me feel dumber than when someone calls me smart.
I get so frustrated with my brain fog. I think, “if I am supposed to so smart, how come I can’t remember words that are a part of my most basic vocabulary?” My impaired cognitive function makes it hard to think, remember and often, speak. Sometimes I stutter; sometimes I stop in a middle of a sentence, having no idea that I did; sometimes reading is a struggle; and much of the time, my memory is quite poor.
Brain fog, and the fear of brain fog, have become some of most hated symptoms. As a writer, when I sit down to write and look at a blank page, I become overwhelmed. What am I trying to write? What did I want to say? I couldn’t string together a sentence this morning, how am I supposed to write a whole article now? Writer’s block is every writer’s worst fear; but mine is brain fog. Writer’s block is annoying, but brain fog is paralyzing.
But I am still writing. I don’t give into my brain fog. I keep fighting the battle for control of my cognitive function; sometimes I win, and sometimes I lose. The important thing is that I keep trying, and moving forward. My disease is degenerative, and may I get worse over time; but if I give up now, I lose immediately.
If you are facing a disease, or a particular symptom that keeps trying to claim dominance over your life, you must fight back. Something I had to learn, is that doesn’t mean powering through to the extent that you over-do it and end up making things worse for yourself. It means not letting your disease own you. It means “rolling with the punches.” Write when you are able to write; rest when you need to rest. But don’t let it define you – or redefine you.
I’m still smart; I just have a harder time showcasing it. I’m still smart; I just don’t always feel that way. I’m still smart; I just have to remember that a little bit of impaired cognitive function doesn’t change that.