This bipolar hurdle doesn’t have to slow you down.
My brain stops sometimes. Like running into a stone wall, all thought abruptly ends. My mind goes blank, and any effort to think feels like trying to suck a whole watermelon through a drinking straw. Many refer to this as brain fog. It’s frustrating, but you can learn to fight it.
How it feels
During a brain fog episode, the effort to think creates physical pain. My temples throb, my heart speeds up, and my teeth clench in a painful death grip. Still, no thoughts come.
Logic and reason escape me. Similar to walking into a room and forgetting why you are there, your brain offers no help. The connections all come apart and all the synapses misfire.
As a writer, these braindead days are the worst. The blank page mocks you and makes your heart ache. A part of you fears the words will never return. In fear, your lungs freeze and your heart beats faster still.
Your anxious mind swirls in panic, an exhausted swimmer on the verge of drowning. Every action is a desperate reach for another gasp of air, but a stronger force remains unmoved. It watches the chaos with cold detachment.
The blankness can last for minutes, hours, or days. The anxiety subsides with time. Your heart rate slows to normal, but the paranoia that your thoughts may not return grows stronger.
Clearing the fog
Is this my life now? You can’t help but wonder. The good news is there are steps you can take to get things flowing again. Here are five ways you can ease your brain fog today.
First, try to relax. It sounds simple, but when your mind is in overdrive, it’s hard to calm down. Take some deep breaths and focus on something else for a while. Maybe read a book or take a walk.
Stress and anxiety often trigger brain fog. Unfortunately, living a life with mental illness, you can become numb to stress. The anxiety starts to feel so normal that you don’t recognize when it’s getting worse.
Brain fog alerts you to the danger. It tells you it’s time to slow down. Breathe deeply and try to connect to the world around you. Be in the moment and stop obsessing about what your mind won’t do.
Second, if you can’t relax, try to distract yourself. Sometimes the best way to get out of your own head is to immerse yourself in another world. Listen to music, watch a movie, or play a video game.
I’m a TV addict. While I probably waste too much of my life binge-watching content, it gives my brain time to sit idly by. Allow yourself to get lost in another reality and your mind will stop fighting against you.
Third, tell a loved one how you feel. What you say isn’t as important as the act of talking. Discuss the weather, a favorite TV show, or a special memory. The conversation will shift your mind’s focus from the stressor to a topic more beneficial.
During the worst days, it’s difficult to carry on a conversation. If you can’t talk, ask a friend to tell you a story. When they run out of words, ask them to read to you or to describe things they can see. The outside input can help your mental wheels turn again.
Fourth, get moving. For the best results, get outside and enjoy fresh air and the calming sounds of nature. If going outside is too much for you, do simple exercises indoors. You can march in place, do jumping jacks, or pace the floor. Putting your body in motion distracts your brain from whatever has it stuck.
Fifth, if all else fails, talk to your doctor. Bipolar disorder can be a difficult illness to deal with, and if you are experiencing day after day of intense brain fog, it may be time for a medication change. With the right treatment, you can get your life back on track.
These five tips will help you move forward when your brain fog stops your life. Remember, it’s not permanent and there are things you can do to clear the fog. Take positive steps and the worst days will be brief.
Until next time, keep fighting.