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?

Hope for Pain Relief

I’ve known of mind­ful­ness prac­tices for sev­er­al years, and read Full Cat­a­stro­phe Liv­ing: Using the Wis­dom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Ill­ness by Jon Kabat-Zinn sev­er­al years ago. It is one of the books I’ve rec­om­mend­ed on this blog in the past.

I have only recent­ly, though, tru­ly com­mit­ted myself to using the prac­tices. I have to say that I was shocked to find that when I give myself over to the spir­it of some guid­ed med­i­ta­tions, the pain is gone. I am still on my med­ica­tions, but I’m going down on dosages and using no break­through pain med­ica­tion these days.

Kabat-Zinn has pub­lished many oth­er prod­ucts, includ­ing a CD of med­i­ta­tions enti­tled Mind­ful­ness Med­i­ta­tion for Pain Relief: Guid­ed Prac­tices for Reclaim­ing Your Body and Your Life. I’m so impressed with the qual­i­ty of his work on The Mind­ful Way through Depres­sion: Free­ing Your­self from Chron­ic Unhap­pi­ness and the oth­er books I’ve men­tioned that I have no hes­i­ta­tion in rec­om­mend­ing that record­ing. I’d love to hear from oth­ers who are using mind­ful­ness prac­tices in their recov­ery, too!

Book Recommendation: The Mindful Way Through Depression

I’ve been respond­ing to writ­ing prompts instead of writ­ing per­son­al posts because I haven’t had a lot to say pub­licly. I feel a need to stop now, though, and strong­ly rec­om­mend a book that I’ve been read­ing. The Mind­ful Way through Depres­sion: Free­ing Your­self from Chron­ic Unhap­pi­ness takes a very dif­fer­ent approach to recov­ery from depres­sion and anx­i­ety, issues I’ve dealt with for more than 20 years. The book includes record­ed Guid­ed Med­i­ta­tion Prac­tices nar­rat­ed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, which are high­ly effec­tive.

I’m find­ing the book’s approach­es very use­ful. I have hope of pos­si­bly recov­er­ing beyond just tak­ing med­ica­tion for­ev­er for the first time I can remem­ber. I’d be inter­est­ed in hear­ing feed­back from oth­ers who are using the same approach.

SBQ: Other crafts?

Melange by Calico Crossroads
This week­end’s Stitch­ing Blog­gers Ques­tion:

Are there oth­er crafts that you have tried and aban­doned? Why do you like stitch­ing bet­ter?

Short ver­sion: Because it’s one of the few visu­al­ly-beau­ti­ful things I’ve ever been good at.
Con­tin­ue read­ing “SBQ: Oth­er crafts?”