The Misappropriation and Misrepresentation of ‘Brain Fog’

I am sick to death of seeing the misappropriation and/or misrepresentation of ‘brain fog’.

This week, Nancy Pelosi has said Putin’s behaviour could be explained by ‘brain fog’ or cancer.

‘Brain fog’ is a nightmare for someone to deal with and can make thinking coherently very difficult but it does not turn someone into a psychotic mass murderer.

‘Brain fog’ isn’t occasionally forgetting someone’s name or sporadically using the wrong word either.

‘Brain fog’ = Cognitive dysfunction.

That cognitive dysfunction is often a feature of heavily stigmatised diseases and yet able bodied/healthy people use it to describe fleeting moments of forgetfulness. This devalues the seriousness of the issue in the same way as blaming Dyslexia for typos when you are not Dyslexic or describing someone as having OCD when they put good hygiene at the top of their priorities.

Stop it.

In the case of M.E, ‘brain fog’ may be caused by inflammation and heat in our brainsME Research UK posted an interesting article about ‘brain fog’ in  M.E in November 2021, they included brain structure, metabolic and chemical changes, electrical activity, and support and immune cells as the causes of M.E ‘brain fog’.

I am currently experiencing a period of bad ‘brain fog’ and in me this means I often sit at my desk in front of my laptop completely unaware of what task I need to get on with.

My own personal experience of brain fog varies –
– I forget that I have written a to-do list,
– I remember what task I need to do but not how to do it.
– I forget the names of my connections and also where to find their info that I have written down to remind me what their names are.
– I put non-fridge items in the fridge – pens, phones, books.
– I forget entire conversations from 5 minutes before.
– I go into the kitchen to do the washing up but feed the dog instead (My dog Maggie is getting podgy).
– I can’t drive for longer than 20 minutes safely due to my inability to concentrate on so many aspects of driving (physically driving, looking in mirrors, looking for pedestrians, remembering directions etc etc – cognitive overload). To be clear I ONLY drive short distances and only on ‘better’ days, I do not drive if it feels unsafe to do so.
– I lose track of Drs appointments (yes I write them down and forget I’ve done so)
– I see blogs I wrote 3 months ago and have no recollection of writing them or of knowing the information contained in them.

These are just a few examples of how ‘brain fog’ impacts me every day. It’s literally as if our brains are filled with fog and that fog prevents me getting thinking clearly.

Recently there has been debate about whether ‘brain fog’ is an adequate informal term for what the symptom actually is. I have tried to use more serious sounding terms in day-to-day conversations and it sounds false and forced. I also struggle to remember what term I ‘should’ actually be using!!

I am fascinated by people who stigmatise M.E patients but adopt our terminology, I would have thought they would distance themselves in every way including the language they use. To these people, maybe they could start saying ‘oops I forgot a word’ rather than ‘sorry, brain fog’. See? Easy.

I don’t see why we should start changing the informal terms we have used for many years because able bodied/healthy people are misappropriating/misrepresenting what the term actually represents.

Don’t change – educate.

Love Sally

and Foggy (OBVIOUSLY)

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