Living Daily with Chronic Invisible Illness

Fibromyalgia, Stress and Fibro-fog

Fibromyalgia, stress and Fibro-fog do not go hand-in-hand. When I awoke this morning I knew what kind of day I was going to have because my brain was not thinking clearly. I immediately set out to stay calm, move slowly, follow a list, and keep my day as structured and orderly as possible.

I think the enemy had other plans! Just after prayer time this morning with the children, I set out to give them their morning chore list, complete with expectations. I let them all know I had some computer work and bills that needed my attention this morning while those chores were being accomplished.

With that done, I went downstairs, put some beef bones and seasonings on simmer for veggie-beef soup tonight, sat at my desk and began my list of things to do. At that point, I struggled with remembering what I was supposed to be writing on my list.


I have a large family. The youngest is nine and I home-school year-round. We always take December off to enjoy the holiday season and all it has to offer. Chores are a daily task that need to be done-school or not! My kiddos know what to do with (usually) minimal overseeing and so I feel free to pay bills, make phone calls, lesson plan or work on this blog during chore time. I have a general idea of how long the chores take, so when they get done sooner than expected my assumption is:

A) It did not get done

B) It was not done correctly or completely

C) It was not done neatly

D) Squabbling occurred (What??? You mean my children do not always get along and work together as one unit???)

Uh, no. Unfortunately their sin nature seems to take hold more often than not…

End of Sidebar.

Needless to say, “D” is what was happening while I was trying to remember what to put on my list. Today was one of those days where I was truly not able to remember much, save the order that I had given them of our day.

Suddenly my world was turned upside-down when that “order” got changed. Not once, not twice, but yes….more than my brain could manage and I snapped. I could not think. My anxiety began to rise. I was breathing heavy. Why? Because at that moment everything I have ever read about Fibro-fog and stress and how to handle it seemed to have been written for me. What’s worse is even as I thought that, I could not remember any of it. I am even struggling to write this now. My brain is not with it.

I had to leave what I had not even begun to do to handle the various issues that seemed to be so utterly important to those who demanded my attention.

My father has a saying. He would say, “You can’t put a square peg in a round hole without forcing it.” In other words, If the plans are being changed, but it is not going to be a smooth transition, don’t force it. I have headed that advise more than I could count. Except today. I had too many people telling me how it was going to be (and why), my brain could not compute most of it, and I told them to do whatever they saw fit and I walked upstairs. I tried to calm myself down with calmer breathing when it all began again as I was followed up the stairs.

So, here I sit, venting on whoever is reading this. My brain is pretty much dead, I feel exhausted from the last hour and I cannot even recall what my original plan for the day even was.

Thankfully, I had already ordered supplies from a construction company who will be dropping my order off this afternoon for our daughter’s new whelping house and office for her AKC Dachshund business she is expanding. Part of the changes that were made this  morning that just “had” to occur means my son may no longer be home for the drywall when it arrives. *Sigh*

People who suffer from Fibromyalgia cannot take mornings like the one I just had without repercussions.  And guess what…??? It is not even noon, yet.  I am still trying to make sense of it all and trying to collect the pieces of my day and allow my brain to function.

I chose to write in the hopes it would allow me a way to think clearly. Has it? I will have to get back to you on that one.

Stress and Fibro-fog….a horrible combination!

The symptoms of Fibro-fog can range from mild to severe. They often vary from day-to-day. Some symptoms of Fibro-fog may include:

Trouble with Words – Difficulty recalling words or names, the use of incorrect words, trouble holding conversations, understanding conversations, and expressing thoughts.

Short-term Memory Problems – Forgetfulness, difficulty remembering where you put things or remembering plans, forgetting what you are doing, unable to recall what was heard or read.

Trouble Concentrating – Easily distracted, trouble processing information, inability to pay attention to more than one thing at a time, unable to complete a task.

Trouble with Simple Math – Difficulty performing simple math, the processes of math, transposing numbers.

Experiencing Fibro-fog can be frustrating and stressful. The brain fog can be almost as cumbersome as the pain and fatigue. Your anxiety can go through the roof when you cannot concentrate or you get distracted and suddenly you begin to mix up words and you are unable to form a complete sentence. The anxiety you experience during these times can be stressful in itself and cause a Fibro-flare.

Tips to Cope with Fibro-Fog

So, what can you do when you are feeling confused and forgetful? The most important thing to do is to STAY CALM. When your mental capabilities are dimmed by Fibro-fog, it  can be truly scary. But it can also let you know it is time to slow down. If you are around stressful people or a stressful situation, remove yourself as soon a possible.

Here are some tips to help cope with Fibro-fog:

Rest – Respect your body’s need for rest. Overactivity (physical or mental) can worsen cognitive functions, so it may be important to take frequent rest breaks. Frequent rest breaks can actually help prevent Fibro-fog and other flare-ups associated with Fibromyalgia.

Follow a Routine – Establish a daily routine for simple tasks. Doing things in a predictable manner will help reduce Fibro-fog. Make a schedule and stick to it.

Stay Organized – Find a system that helps you stay on top of things. Create daily to-do lists. Use a planner to keep track of appointments. Use a weekly pill-box to keep track of medications, if you take them.

De-Clutter – A cluttered environment can be overwhelming and distracting, cause additional stress and make brain fog worse. Organize your home so that everything has a designated place.

Avoid Multi-Tasking – Focus on one thing at a time. It is harder to concentrate when you’re trying to do too much at once.

Avoid Over-Stimulation – Since one of the causes of Fibro-fog is over stimulation, find ways to limit sensory input. For example, if you are hypersensitive to noise, move to a quiet place to avoid distractions.

De-Stress – Stress may cause Fibro-fog to worsen. You can learn to relax by listening to soothing music and breathing deeply.

Exercise Regularly – Exercise not only improves blood flow, but also helps improve sleep, which can help alleviate some of the cognitive difficulties associated with Fibromyalgia. Yes, it truly helps.

Improve Sleep – Lack of restorative sleep can cause and exacerbate cognitive problems. Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time, too.

I hope this helps!


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