Chronic migraine takes a toll on those who are attempting to manage living with it. It drains an individual from a mental, physical, and emotional aspect. The mental drain is not always considered when discussing symptoms we face during a migraine. These symptoms are very real and can include things like brain fog, problems communicating, and fatigue that become frustrating for the individual experiencing them.
Brain fog is a term used to describe the mental confusion or mental fatigue that can be felt by an individual. The term brain fog is not an official medical term; it is a term used by individuals with conditions such as chronic migraine and fibromyalgia to explain periods of time when an individual’s mental capacity is not at normal operating levels. These periods can make it hard for someone to grasp a new concept, recall memories, and even make it hard for them to concentrate. A lot of people choose to not do things like cook or drive during these episodes, just to be extra safe. In complete honesty the first day I sat down to write this article I was having a foggy day and simply had to turn off my laptop and stick to doing household chores that did not require a higher level of thought or concentration. The experience can be similar to the memory lapses a pregnant woman may experience. But brain fog is more extended than having one or two individualized hiccups; it can be hours or days of being a mental haze.
Another aspect of brain activity that can be affected by chronic migraine is the ability to communicate. Some individuals can find it difficult to speak and to properly form sentences. Personally, when I am not feeling well, I prefer to text message whoever needs to speak with me instead of having a phone call. While I am sensitive to lights, it is still easier than dealing with my sensitivity to noise and my slower than normal response time. I find that in a text message, people do not get as impatient as they do during a call. This has been another thing I like about doctor offices that use a patient portal system because you can send a message there instead of trying to call the office, wait in hold, and find the words to properly express yourself. When you are used to being an individual who enjoys debating and having intellectual conversations, this can be overwhelming frustrating.
Leads back to the terrible two
This mental haze can lead back to the Terrible Two I wrote about previously.
The overpowering mental fatigue can easily feed over into a physical fatigue that leaves the days feeling like they are never ending. For some individuals this level exhaustion can create a major hurdle to overcome in terms of being able to fall asleep and actually have revitalizing rest. This is one of the most vicious cycles those with chronic conditions are faced with because not having enough sleep can definitely increase our pain levels.
In all, sometimes the best thing that we can do for ourselves is to learn when to take a break and to know how much of a break to take. Are you at a place where you simply cannot complete a complicated task but can still perform mundane household chores? Or at you at that place where the best bet is to curl up on the couch and nap? It is very important for us to learn how to listen to our bodies and not continue to push them beyond what they are capable of handling. Our migraines are so much more than a bad headache and we have to remember that all elements of the condition need attention, not just the pain.
Are you affected by brain fog? Do you ever have problems being able to communicate during a migraine?