Brain fog is the inability to think something through in a connected way and to concentrate, with short-term memory loss on the side. “Brain barricade” would better describe it. Going from sitting to standing takes not only muscles but also cognitive attention. Deciding what task to do next takes the ability to imagine “What if…”
Brain fog can paralyze the mind the way a broken back can paralyze the limbs. Messages just don’t go through. If the brain can’t communicate with the body, daily activities, let alone intellectual pursuits, are nearly impossible.
I hope this makes caregivers and health sciences students more understanding of myalgic encephalomyelitis patients’ limitations and invisible struggles. Ask me any questions in the comments. Next time I’ll explain postexertional malaise.
Darla Nagel is an editor and writing tutor who has an invisible chronic illness. She wants to help other patients and enlighten health care professionals about our experiences. If you’d like to receive quarterly updates from her, sign up by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Darla copyedits biomedical research while living with an invisible chronic illness.