Imagine driving through thick fog at night, inching towards a destination that is just out of sight. This is what “brain fog” feels like, a symptom that often accompanies migraine. Brain fog can make it hard to focus, and cause difficulty with comprehension, speech, memory, concentration, and clarity.
After a migraine attack one day, I woke up with what felt like a hangover. I poured myself a bowl of cereal and promptly returned my milk to the cabinet and cereal to the refrigerator. Wait, what? I was unable to complete the simple task of making breakfast and putting the two ingredients back where they belong. It was like my brain wasn’t functioning correctly, and my mind wouldn’t turn on.
After this, I walked into my family room and forgot why I was there. I knew I was in there to do something, but the fog in my brain was so thick that I couldn’t remember why. I was confused, forgetful, and easily distracted. Most of all, I was frustrated.
Why couldn’t I make breakfast? What was I doing and why couldn’t I remember? Migraine brain fog is more than just being tired or having something slip my mind. It can last for minutes, hours, or days, and can happen before, during, or after a migraine. Plus, it differs with each migraine attack.
Despite all of this, I still need to go to work, take care of my family, and deal with life. Here’s how I prepare for brain fog, and how I fight through it.
Brain fog can be related to other health conditions or be a symptom of another disease. These can be either mild or life-threatening conditions and should be discussed with a doctor. Don’t rule out brain fog as only a migraine-related issue. Speak with your doctor about other health conditions that you think may be related to brain fog.
Write things down
I write everything down on paper or in my phone. I make to-do lists because this makes me feel accomplished when I can check a task off. When I’m in meetings, I use the record function on my phone so that I can review it later. Also, I use calendar reminders, timers, and notifications on my phone to make sure that I remember events and times.
Give yourself enough time
My calendar reminders are set to give myself plenty of time. With these reminders, I’ll give myself extra time to travel, get ready for an appointment, or reply to an email with enough time to think and rethink the message. Giving myself extra time allows me to do things twice (if needed) and helps me not feel stressed when brain fog is slowing me down.
I always try to put things away in the same spot. Pick up some organizational bins, drawers, and files for at home or at work. Doing so will help you navigate brain fog and take the guess work out of finding what you need.
Ask for help
Tell your family and friends that you’re experiencing brain fog. It can decrease any embarrassment you feel, and in turn, your family and friends may offer a helping hand that you didn’t even know you needed.
I often give my daughter a list of errands that we’re going to run and let her know what we’re getting. She is amazing at recalling what we’re doing, and feels so helpful when she is able to help clear the fog in my mind.
Understand that brain fog is a part of living with migraine. It can be a sign that a migraine is approaching or that you’re recovering from a migraine. In both cases, you should be gentle with yourself and forgive any guilt that you feel. Make recovering from the migraine a priority.
Sometimes, there’s nothing to do but laugh. When I realized that I put the milk in the cabinet, I was confused about how I did it and angry that I’d done it, but I forgave myself and laughed. Then, I told my husband and laughed again.
Migraine and brain fog often go hand in hand. Difficulty focusing and remembering things can make it hard to get through your daily tasks. Even if brain fog persists for longer than you hoped it would, there are workarounds that can help you get through it.
MIG-US-NP-00087 JULY 2018