Crafting with Brainfog

““Brain fog” isn’t a medical condition. It’s a term used for certain symptoms that can affect your ability to think. You may feel confused or disorganized or find it hard to focus or put your thoughts into words.” (WebMD)

I spend most of my time looking and feeling like the picture above, feeling like I can’t think straight or focus, that my head is full of cotton wool or my brain is fried. Brainfog is a common symptom of ME/CFS, and Fibromyalgia. it can also be caused or exacerbated by lack of sleep, hormonal changes (particularly Menopause), food sensitivities, medication and depression. As I have all of these it’s no wonder I struggle.

“In an online survey of people with ME carried out by the ME Association, one third (33%) of respondents said their brain fog is constant and moderately or very disabling. An additional 23% said their brain fog varies between moderate and severe.” (Allie Anderson 2019)

“Dr Charles Shepherd, medical adviser to the ME Association, explains that brain fog – or cognitive dysfunction, as he terms it – is often worsened by mental exertion.

“In the same way that too much physical activity will quickly produce muscle fatigue, prolonged or intense mental activity will bring on or exacerbate brain fatigue and the cognitive problems that accompany it,” he comments.” (Allie Anderson 2019)

As an example of how it affects me, it has just taken me 3 attempts to post the link above and to get to this point has taken me about an hour and I haven’t even begun what I intended to write about!

Along with the fatigue, Brainfog is the reason I am unable to work, I would never get anything done and could even be dangerous.

Being unable to work or do much physical activity means I have to find things to do. I like making things, but make a lot of mistakes and lose focus very quickly and wander off to do something else. I am very slow taking so much time to complete a project even something very simple. This leaves me very frustrated and wondering why I bother. I am often not able to keep up with what I need to do and never get to do what I would like to do and what other people are easily able to do, usually along with a full time job and home to look after. It makes me feel very inadequate. For most people crafting is relaxing and rewarding for me it is hard work.

Yesterday I sat down to make another mask for Emily. It took me several days to work out the pattern when I first made them and there was lots of unpicking etc, but eventually I managed it. I thought it would be a quick job yesterday as I knew what I was doing or so I thought. The mask has 3 layers and when I turned it right way through the middle layer was on the outside, a mistake I had made before. On my sewing machine I always press the needle up button when I want reverse stitching, they are not even alike ot near each other. If I change stitch type I forget to change it back before sewing the next bit and so it goes on and gets very frustrating and exhausting.

When I am making cards I can never find what I am looking for even though I try to be organised, I often cut things to the wrong size and am always putting my dies the wrong way round so they cut into the magnetic sheet, mistakes can be expensive as well as annoying.

Following instructions like patterns and recipes leaves me very confused, they may as well be written in a foreign language for all the sense they make to me. During lockdown I bought some wool and a pattern to make a shawl, I must have started it a dozen times and each time it came out wrong and a different wrong. Eventually I did crack it, but haven’t made a lot of progress as I am constantly checking the number of stitches I have. I have some other knitted projects that I have given up on as I just can’t get them right, it’s such a waste and so upsetting. I used to knit picture jumpers!

When I am quilting the cutting really confuses me and I have to ask Rob to help me, the measuring and turning fabric and cutting just fries my brain. The actual cutting can be quite physically demanding too and having to keep ironing things to keep them flat, it’s not something I can do very often. I have several ideas and still have some online Quilt classes to watch that I have had for nearly 18 months.

During lockdown I was expecting to be able to help Emily with her school work, but most of it I couldn’t understand or was unable to explain to her what she needed to do. She would show me the instructions and I would not understand what it was asking for and needed to be able to sit and work it out, but when she is wanting an answer there isn’t time for that.

I like cooking, although I can’t physically do things like chopping or mixing it is nice to bake with Rob or Emily or try out a new recipe, but the recipes confuse me so much and they are quite straightforward really. Some of it is probably the multi tasking as you need to find ingredients, measure them, mix them etc. Sadly this means I don’t get involved in cooking as I find it disheartening and we all end up arguing so it’s not fun, it also means that our meals are very basic and usually rushed. I hate not being able to make a meal and provide for my family and it’s so unfair on Rob to have to cook after being at work all day when I haven’t.

I used to cross stitch and have started many projects, but I made so many mistakes I lost heart with them and sold them all. I did give one to someone to finish for me, but she disappeared with it never to be seen again. I have done a few little ones for making cards.

When I had my PIP assessment one of the questions she asked was if you were lost would you be able to ask for and follow directions. I said no and she kept asking me why not. How do explain Brainfog and combine that with hearing issues makes it impossible. I find it very hard to have a conversation especially with people I don’t know and I can’t follow or process what they are saying. The PIP assessor decided that I would have no problems asking for directions!! Don’t even ask me to read a map, thank goodness for Sat Navs! Mind you it’s a good job I don’t do the driving as I can’t follow the Sat Nav either and the one time I did try to use it, it sent me the wrong way! I was only using it locally as I couldn’t remember how to get to Emily’s friends house 5 mins away.

Well this has taken me a long time so perhaps I should just publish it before I waffle on any more, I am sure there will be something I have forgotten! Oh yes one of the reasons I keep going with the craft is when I get messages like these

“I don’t think I’ve ever had such a lovely card. It’s still on my mantelpiece.” That was for a birthday in July, 2 1/2 months on a mantelpiece and

I need to remember these which appealed to me

From Our Handmade Collective by Inna Box

and

Sadly I can’t remember where this is from

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