Friday, March 25, 2016

Cloudy With a Chance of Brain Fog #SOL16

Whether it's a symptom of a recently diagnosed thyroid issue or the byproduct of slowly inching towards 40, I have developed brain fog. About two years ago, I began to notice the well-organized files in my cranium were no longer easy to access. I couldn't keep my to-list stored in my head anymore, choosing instead to jot it down on a sticky note or create a reminder on my iPhone. At work, I began to worry I might be developing ADD, an over-identified disorder common among elementary students.

The fragmentation of my thoughts has grown progressively worse, and about six months ago, I realized by the end of a school day, my brain was 100% spent. I'd plop down at my desk and attempt to accomplish a computer task. Composing a complete sentence felt like a mammoth feat. I began to miss deadlines, and sometimes I would be in mid sentence and forget what I was going to say. Absentmindedness and distraction took up residence in my skull, and I started to feel incompetent, inefficient, and irked. So I researched the ambiguous term brain fog, which is not necessarily recognized by the mainstream medical community, and this is what I found.

This problem only seems to worsen as the days and weeks pass. I can't concentrate, and my mind flickers on and off like a lamp with an electrical short. Yesterday I took twenty minutes to complete paperwork that should have been done lickety-split, I allowed my students to derail a lesson by asking irrelevant, unrelated questions, and I got half way through an important classroom task before bailing and heading home. I forgot about an appointment I'd scheduled, couldn't find my keys, and failed to pay a bill that was overdue. For an overachiever with neurotic DNA, these new developments are causing serious concern.

Years ago I owned an old HP computer. The internal processor labored and strained to load websites, and a quiet, whirring hum could be heard as I attempted to open more than one window at a time. Periodically, I would defrag the machine overnight, and the next day the computer would run a little faster. Sleep serves as a mental defragmenter for my mind, and when I wake up in the morning, I feel refreshed, alert, and less foggy. Between 6:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., my brain operates much more efficiently, and I can't decide if I should just accept this changing reality and try to be as productive as possible during this small window of time or see a doctor and start taking some ADD medication.

My husband and I are nine years apart in age, and as I watched him transition to middle age, I noticed similar patterns emerge. For years he hustled, rushed, and plowed through life with the force of a hurricane. By the time he turned 40 he'd accomplished all his professional goals, and living life at a breakneck speed no longer served him. Finally after years of fighting the rat race, he slowed down, found a hobby he enjoyed, and began to achieve that elusive balance missing from my own existence.

As much as I despise this current struggle, I am hoping I too will eventually learn to relax and take a break. Perhaps what I perceive as bothersome brain fog is really just my body's way of saying It's time to settle down Tenille. 


  1. I find I have to set an alarm on my phone for everything these days! I just kidded with my husband the other day. I was supposed to put something in my car to give to someone. And I forgot to give it to them I was so annoyed! I said, I even set an alarm to put it in the car!! And he said, well I guess you needed an alarm to take it out too! Uuuuugh! Brainfog is the worst!

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