As I have said before, one of my Lyme symptoms is brain fog, which for me translates to a vague sense of confusion. A dreamlike awareness of my surroundings if you will. It makes it very hard to focus on anything and can easily trigger anxiety because of how diminished it makes me feel (unable to make any decision, overwhelmed by everything, uncomfortable with noise, lights, crowds etc..). Everything and everyone seem both cottony and aggressive at the same time.
When I first started experiencing brain fog the only thing I could do that helped was get away from people, sit down, close my eyes and wait for it to go away. I also started making lists (tons of them). With the fog came memory issues, meaning that I not only always forgot things but also had the same thoughts on repeat (“remember to buy toothpaste on your way home”). Having these very normal thoughts on a foggy unreliable brain meant that they were always followed by a small fear that I was indeed going to forget.
It may seem very trivial but I really felt like I couldn’t trust myself, and rightly so. I would sometimes think about going food shopping minutes before walking past the supermarket then have another thought (“take your drugs”) and find myself in my flat without any food. Because my morale wasn’t very high at the time this would affect me quite a lot (which added to the confusion). Plus having to deal with my 5 flights of stairs again on my dodgy knees was often too much of an obstacle.
I therefore found great comfort in the many lists I started accumulating on my phone (paper was too stressful, I couldn’t trust myself not to forget my lists). I have shopping lists, daily, weekly and monthly to do lists, ideas lists (gifts for friends and family or restaurants I wanted to try for example). Along with those lists I started setting tons of reminders on my phone (to take medication or pay rent but also for lunch with friends or doctors appointments). I quickly became more organised than I had ever been and turned my phone into my back up brain, to declutter the real one from any anxious thoughts.
*pro tip : if you have android and are in the market for an app on which you can make lists on I highly recommend Keep. It’s very user friendly and has a great function that allows you to tick things off and then back on. This way you don’t have to type everything on your shopping list again, you can easily “untick” the items you run out of*
I also started getting into habits that would prevent me from forgetting things and therefore protect me from getting upset. For example I always physically check that I have my purse, my keys and my (now essential) phone with me and that I have turned all the lights off when I leave my flat. This is unnecessary 99% of the time because I always put my keys straight back into my bag when I get home and never leave lights on when I leave a room. I do it anyway otherwise I’ll have a mini panic when I close my door and will need to brush away the thought of my lights being on 15 times during the day.
These things helped me keep the fog to a manageable level where I don’t necessarily always feel comfortable but I can function (although in the past week I have forgotten my purse in two different cafés).