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Hard to Focus

Hard to Focus

Living with migraine pain can be difficult to say the least. When you consider everything that comes along with ongoing pain, I am amazed that we get anything accomplished during our days.

The symptoms of migraine, both during the episode and after it has subsided, can make concentration difficult. The ongoing pain such as chronic migraine along with many other chronic pain conditions, often leads to anxiety, depression and exhaustion. These added symptoms affect your ability to focus or rather the ability to stay focused from time to time.

The daze

It happens to me more often than I would care to honestly admit. I have lost count of the number of times I have gone into a store to pick up two or three things and only walked out of the store without one of the items I was looking for to start with. It’s not that I forget what I am looking for; more so I forget that I had other things I needed to look for all together.

At work, I spend most days double and triple checking the things I have already completed each day to be certain that I actually completed each task and not just thought about completing it. It may sound a bit silly, but these days, I work in payroll and let’s face it, nobody wants to be the person that shortchanged someone on their paycheck.

The migraine hangover

The effects of a bad migraine (at least in my case) can last for days after the migraine itself has passed. I can only attribute that partly to exhaustion. Much like being sick with some kind of virus or the flu, even though you do manage to sleep, it is not always restful or replenishing. It is almost as if your brain simply hits the pause button until you wake and then releases everything all over again.

My support

Most of the time I am able to lean on my wife to help me stay organized and get things accomplished. That all by itself is a huge accomplishment considering I am episodic and she is chronic, with other health issues. Some days we just look at each other and laugh at our situation. Other days it is all we can do not to just curl up on the couch and cry over it.

I know my wife struggles with focus too. I have seen her go to the computer to print out a shipping label for a box that needs to go out, and then completely lose track of why she got on the computer to start with at all. She gets infuriated when it happens and it’s all I can do not to laugh because I think she is cute when she is angry (as long as she’s not angry at me of course)!

Aside from healthy eating and sleeping habits, I am not sure there is really anything we can do to prevent the brain fog that comes with the migraine pain. So, for now I suppose we will just keep using post-it notes and daily reminders to each other when needed.

How does migraine affect your level of focus? Have you found any tricks or remedies that helped?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • sfnative
    11 months ago

    Hi Steven, I’m really sorry to hear that you and many others suffer from brain fog and hope you can find a solution to enhance your quality of living. Love that you mentioned about food plan and sleep. I’ve finally gotten all of the garbage out of my food plan, but sleep remains an issue, due to otho pain issues. It would be interesting for someone to do a study on this subject. I’ve been fortunate not to suffer from brain fog, but will admit to not being able to take any sort of migraine med whatsoever due to a long-standing neuro condition, so just have to live with the pain. Recently retire, I look back on my Division Head position, which had me working insane hours providing training for Staff and Resident physicians and wonder how I ever did it, having taken only 2 migraine days off in 14 years in that job. I believe that bottom line for some of us is personality type; our ability to meditate on the spot; slogging through extrmely busy days by “placing” pain in an imaginary box and putting a lid on it (no, I’m not crazy – this helps to psychologically place the pain further back instead of more forward into my conscious state, when I need to be thinking about training total knees). Good luck to you in your quest for clarity.

  • Jojiieme
    11 months ago

    Thanks for mentioning meditation – compartmentalising the distortions and the pain/nausea, and the brief meditations are sometimes the only strategies I have on-hand to work with.
    Telling myself that ‘this too will pass. It’s just x hours and you’re home’ helps to refocus on completing an immediate task, and plodding through basic methodical checklists.
    The really hard days are those with sudden bone-crushing exhaustion. I need to leave work a little early then so I can manage the traffic before it’s really heavy.
    Sometimes it’s just hard being a grownup all day, when really inside we fell like small children wanting to be comforted by an understanding parent 😉 (sigh: lol you can tell I need some help today, after a bad day yesterday and a poor night, turning into another poor day today. Oh well, no point in a pity party!)

  • Always the optimist
    11 months ago

    ooh I get great help logging on here
    however I get very scared when my aura seems so consistent
    I cant seem to forget about it therefore it seems all the time

  • wesixcooks
    11 months ago

    My neurologist switched me to a new antidepressant called Trintellix that is specifically designed to help with our “brain fog.” It took a little over a month before I saw results. It was not a placebo effect, because I was not expecting anything from a new ‘untested’ antidepressant, and frankly had forgotten about it. I suddenly started having my decades old energy back, and being able to focus, and think…..I don’t think it’s helped any with the migraines themselves, but I’m able to cope with them so much better! It’s been a month now, and so far, so good. Just thought I’d share. You never know.

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