Fight Brain Fog!

Or, at the very least, give your­self more resources to fight it!

Cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties are like mus­cles, in that they have to be devel­oped and exer­cised reg­u­lar­ly, even stretched to keep them flex­i­ble. We can’t nec­es­sar­i­ly avoid the cog­ni­tive deficits that come with some of our ill­ness­es, or as a side effect of our med­ica­tions. What we can do is improve our fac­ul­ties, giv­ing us a bet­ter lev­el of over­all func­tion­ing despite those deficits.


Ways to Improve Your Men­tal Fit­ness
is an excel­lent arti­cle on the sub­ject. I rec­om­mend read­ing it and not­ing some new things to try.

Per­son­al­ly, I find that doing things like a Sudoku or cross­word puz­zle or a cou­ple of rounds of soli­taire Mahjongg each day help me “wake up” my brain and think bet­ter. I’ve long wished I had access to the Nin­ten­do brain train­ing game (Brain Age? some­thing like that), as it sounds like just the thing.

I real­ly wor­ried about tak­ing col­lege cours­es, because I know that if I had to take an IQ test these days, my score would be marked­ly low­er than it was pre-FMS. Hap­pi­ly, I found that tak­ing the cours­es helped me to regain some men­tal agili­ty. I still have mem­o­ry prob­lems, and all bets are off dur­ing a bad flare—but I def­i­nite­ly feel that I’m cop­ing bet­ter on a day to day basis.

Now that I’m not in school for­mal­ly, I’ve been learn­ing to pro­gram. It’s anoth­er kind of think­ing, and one I’ve thought about acquir­ing for years. It has­n’t been easy, but I’m doing it, and it cer­tain­ly is stretch­ing my men­tal mus­cles.

Mak­ing music is anoth­er thing that works for me. I’ve been re-learn­ing to play the ukulele, some­thing I orig­i­nal­ly learned in the sec­ond grade. I used to know how to play piano, flute, and oth­er instru­ments

I’ve always been a singer, pri­mar­i­ly, though

, and I’m sur­prised at how much I’ve for­got­ten about read­ing music. I “know” the notes, but I’m so slow that I have to stop and think, “Now, wait, that’s two lines below the bass clef, so…” when it used to be as easy as read­ing any Eng­lish text. The more I work with it, though, the more I find the exer­cise of think­ing in anoth­er lan­guage to be use­ful as an exer­cise.

What are you doing to stay sharp? Have you tried any of the activ­i­ties rec­om­mend­ed in the arti­cle?

Why Can’t We Think Well When We’re Sick?

This isn’t specif­i­cal­ly about CFS/ME or FMS, but I found it inter­est­ing, and I think it makes sense.

Why Men­tal Lethar­gy When Sick

Dur­ing an infec­tion, humans typ­i­cal­ly expe­ri­ence a set of phys­i­o­log­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal symp­toms, includ­ing fever, con­fu­sion, decreased moti­va­tion, depres­sion and anx­i­ety that are accom­pa­nied by a slow­ing of move­ments.

These changes, col­lec­tive­ly known as “sick­ness behav­ior,” are the body’s way of con­serv­ing ener­gy dur­ing ill­ness so that an effec­tive immune response can be launched. This new study helps researchers fur­ther under­stand how cytokines com­mu­ni­cate between the immune sys­tem and the brain to pro­mote sick­ness behav­ior.

Since many peo­ple with CFS/ME have chron­ic fevers and oth­er symp­toms sim­i­lar to those of infec­tious ill­ness­es, I have to won­der if the results of this study will be exam­ined with regards to CFS/ME.