Raising children with neurological disorders and realizing, after all these years, that I've only been "passing for normal"
Friday, May 26, 2017
7 Reasons You May Have Brain Fog, or I Hate Change, Part 11
It's cleaning day but I have at least 3 hours yet until the cleaners arrive and I'd rather blog than do the dishes, again. (I don't know why the sink keeps filling up with dirty dishes. Do I really have to keep feeding them?) I'm still doing laundry. That counts, right?
So, brain fog. What is it? According to the Internet, it's a kind of mental fatigue that makes you absentminded. You lose things, you can't finish your sentences, and you never feel completely awake. I'm pretty sure I've had brain fog since adolescence. Not pretty.
Okay, here are a few reasons cited here:
1. Lack of sleep. I remember when I graduated from college and got a "real" job (after getting married a week after graduation which caused 6 months of insomnia; 3 months before and 3 after. I don't recommend this cramming together of momentous occasions to anyone.) Once I started working my first "adult" job, I was getting less sleep than when I was in college. This made no sense to me whatsoever. Adulting sucks.
Then, when Alex came along, I quit my "real" job and started parenting a newborn. Yeah, you don't get a lot of contiguous sleep then, either. And by the time he was reliably sleeping through the night, I had another one coming. This mom thing is crazy.
By the time Miranda was reliably sleeping through the night (and this took a lot longer; maybe 4-5 years old), I had trained my body to sleep lightly enough that I would hear a crying child and run off and take care of them. I'm not sure this ever wears off. I take medication to help me get to sleep now.
We used to joke for years that we experienced "phantom baby syndrome." We were sure something was wrong with one of the children so we'd creep into their rooms to check on them, but they were fast asleep.
Nowadays, my alarm goes off at 6:10 to get Alex on the bus at 7:10 and it is a rare night that I am in bed and falling asleep by ten, so I'm probably not getting enough sleep. Still.
2. Neurological Disorders. Depression isn't mentioned in their list but it does fall in this category. I have a diagnosis of chronic depression and not just that, medication-resistant depression. I'm so special, and not just that, I'm a redhead. There is a genetic variant that comes with the hair that causes all kinds of fun things, and not just a propensity for melanoma. In my life, this means I need three times as much novacaine at the dentist as the average person and I get all the fun, rare and very strange side effects from most medications.
My husband doesn't not remember these days fondly: I was prescribed a sleep medication between pregnancies that, if I forgot to take some Benadryl with it, would cause me to wake up screaming. I was convinced a spider was coming down from the ceiling right over my head. It was the same dream, every time, and it didn't matter where I was sleeping (in CA or NJ); it would cause me to wake up screaming. I am extremely arachnophobic. But this was a new one for my doctor.
Back to depression. I've pretty much accepted that I'm always going to have some level of brain fog due to my faulty brain chemistry. It doesn't make me happy; it's just the way things are. And that leads directly to...
3. Medication. I remember about 18 months ago my doctor was changing my antidepressant regimine and we tried something new. It didn't do squat for my depression but for the first time in several years, I could actually finish my sentences! It was wonderful, but it only lasted a month. This medication wasn't working in any other sense, so we tried another medication and while this one helps alleviate my depression, it sent me right back into brain fog. I miss being able to finish my sentences.
4. Stress. Yeah, maybe I've got a little stress in my life. I'm working my way through that at present. (See parts 1-10, below.)
5. Menopause. I'm not there yet but it is coming. I have a hard time imagining the brain fog worsening. That could be bad.
6. Nutritional Deficiencies. I have been struggling with recurrent nausea since December. It may be caused by my primary antidepressant, but in hopes that it wasn't, I started throwing out everything else, sequentially, to try to find the cause. I changed everything I ate in the morning (which, as a person who hates change, was almost traumatic. I like to be in my groove, which means I tend to eat the same thing for breakfast for years at a time. It was ugly, and I was still nauseous.) I changed the time of day I took my medication. I started taking one antidepressant with breakfast and the other before bed (in this house, we all have medical cocktails; it's just the way it is.) No improvement. So last month, my doctor added Zofran, which solved the nausea problem, but do I really want to take it forever? Every couple of days, I try to go without it and the results aren't pretty. Dang it.
But this also means I haven't been taking my vitamins since I tossed them in December, trying to find a better solution for my stomach. I really need to get back to them.
I was hoping as my stress decreased, which it really has in the last year, my nausea would follow suit. No such luck yet. This is annoying. But as we have come to realize, stress can reprogram your body on a biological level; the way back is not always possible or even if it is, it's not easy. So annoying.
7. Bad diet. I am an indifferent cook. I was getting along okay until last summer, when I just gave up. My father-in-law was dying. My body's hormones got entirely out of whack which meant my body wouldn't stop bleeding so then my gynecologist gave me all kinds of progesterone which made me sicker but stopped the bleeding. Finally, now, almost a year later, my system is back to normal. But that's a long time to be out of the habit of cooking real meals for dinner. And it doesn't help to have one child who only eats 9 things (white tortilla chips, chicken corn taquitos from Whole Foods, turkey bacon, buttered toast, Libby's corned beef hash, motzarella cheese sticks, Wheat Thins brand crackers, Honey Nut Cheerios, and McDonald's French Fries. That's it; that's the whole list. Wait, I forgot the candy: Hot Tamales) so he has to have a meal cooked for him and my daughter is slightly better, and will share about 5 of the meals we eat, so half the time I have to cook something separate for her. Many nights, after that, I'm done. I have instant peach oatmeal and some sort of breakfast meat. My poor husband has become very fond of soups, so I keep a stash of them in the pantry.
So lots of fresh fruit and veges? Not really. Non-processed dinner foods? Not a lot of them. Possibilities for change? Maybe. I'd love to go back to cobb salads for dinner but they stopped making my favorite salad dressing. I really hate change.
Posted by Sarah Boyle Webber at 12:23 PM
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