Brain fog is the perfect descriptor for this symptom. Sometimes it’s so thick you can’t find anything through it, sometimes (thick or thin) there’s a moment of clarity before you’re enfolded once more, sometimes it’s so light as to be almost not there. But what is it exactly?
“Cognitive disorders are a category of mental health disorders that primarily affect learning, memory, perception, and problem solving, and include amnesia, dementia, and delirium.” Wikipedia.
In addition to these issues mentioned above, there can be difficulties with concentration, speech and finding the right word for something, and the ability (taken for granted by most) to simply have a single complete, coherent thought. Given all this, it isn’t surprising that cognitive dysfunction makes it difficult (at times impossible) to carry out daily activities, or to take part in social interactions. Basically it can become difficult to function in the world.
Most people will have ‘senior moments’ where they forget where they put something or walk into a room then wonder why they went there. Brain fog for people with ME/CFS has been likened to that experienced by people with dementia, except that at some point ME/CFS brain fog will lift and the persons mental capabilities are undiminished.
Some find it more debilitating and say it reduces their quality of life more than any other symptom, including fatigue or pain.
The struggles caused by brain fog can also result in emotional throw-back: anger and frustration, anxiety, feelings of worthlessness, guilt if you have to rely on other people, embarrassment if you repeat things because you don’t remember them being said or you trail off in the middle of a sentence when you can’t remember the word for the thing you put in the grill and eat at breakfast. . .
As with any other aspect of ME/CFS you pretty much have to accept it happens and wait it out, finding ways to cope in the meantime. Because pushing through and overworking mentally can give a setback just as surely as overdoing things physically or emotionally.
For those who have to go through it (both those with ME/CFS and their families and friends) be patient and try to give the person suffering it a break. Laugh at your forgetfulness rather than getting angry or tearful, because at least you can be reasonably sure the fog will lift eventually.