Tag Archive | CFS/ M.E/ chronic fatigue/ depression

Brain fog……

is so frustrating. One of my major symptoms of chronic fatigue/depression at the moment is brain fog. This has to be one of the most frustrating manifestations of my illness for me and it’s taking me a while to come to terms with it. Needless to say I won’t be applying for Mastermind or University Challenge any time soon.

Usually, I can recall information very quickly and at a drop of a hat. These days when asked a question, I realise that I know the answer and it is there “somewhere” but where and how long will it take to retrieve is unpredictable at the very least and bloody annoying every time. It could take hours for me to remember a name.

This must sound rather spoilt and insensitive to anyone who is struggling with far worse symptoms than mine, and I appreciate and understand that, but for me, my intellectual ability and agility has always taken precedent over financial success and monetary advantage so that if I am unable to function in accordance with my expectations, I have failed.

This is what I have to live with and moderate. Difficult as it is, I have to realise that if I can’t answer a question on University Challenge before one of the contestants, and have to search through my contacts to ascertain the name of the person I’m thinking of, then so be it. Grrr….I don’t like it and as the BUPA Dr told me 9 years ago ” you will have trouble growing old unless you moderate your expectations”……

Mmmmmm…I sort of get what she meant but I am not giving up just yet.

I have too much to give and too much to pass on to my successors to worry about slow performance. “

“It’s not how you start it’s how you finish” so the lyric goes and it’s absolutely right.

Keep going; keep challenging; keep on track; you will get there.

Addicted to drums

No, that’s not a typo. I am seriously addicted to drumming and that’s after only one lesson. If you read my last post about drumming back in July, you will know that it is Colleen’s fault, so you can blame her if my future posts become one-dimensional and boring for all those non-drummers among you.

I had my first drumming lesson last Tuesday and I was hooked from my first “bang”. I was more than a little apprehensive on the way over to my lesson and started to wonder what on earth I was doing at 50 years old to start drumming. I tried not to think about it too much, knowing that if I did, I was in danger of doing a U-turn and returning home. Apart from the purported health benefits of learning to drum, taking the step to arrange a lesson and start something new is, for me, more a challenge to my low confidence and desire to stay at home safe and secure talking to my hubby and cats rather than get out and enjoy learning a new skill and, shock horror, meeting new people.

I have to constantly challenge myself to do things and meet people otherwise I would withdraw both at home and at work and that is not healthy. Most people don’t notice that this is a daily struggle for me as I have become extremely proficient at acting my way through the day but I keep trying to increase my confidence and create a more positive attitude by doing things rather than staying put.

I arrived for my lesson in good time, and was incredibly lucky that Nick made me feel at ease straight away. I sat behind the drum set, learned what each drum and cymbal is called, how to hold the drum sticks and to my biggest surprise, learned that drums have “music”.

Thinking about it now, I don’t know how I thought people learned to play the drums without music but I assumed that being a percussion instrument with no “notes”, no music would be needed! How wrong I was, but I was pleased to find out that my previous musical experiences have not been wasted. Whilst there are no “musical notes” as such, the notes in drum music represent the beats and which drum/cymbal you strike, with which hand. Easy!

All I have to do now is work both hands and feet in a set order as per the music and I will have it licked! Easier said than done of course and I found out quite quickly that the connections between brain and hands/feet are not so responsive as they should be……not bad but plenty of scope for improvement.

The hour flew by and I was so disappointed when it came to an end. Nick asked me whether I would be coming again (try keeping me away) and when I said yes, he told me which drum sticks and music book I will need for my future lessons and practice.

My new drum sticks

My new drum sticks

Drums Easy

Drums Easy

I had actually progressed quite a long way in my first lesson, my previous experience with piano, clarinet and guitar clearly helping with reading the music and keeping the rhythm going. I felt pleased with myself for making the effort, enjoying the experience and there is no doubt that drumming had definitely made me feel good about myself without expending too much physical energy. This is important when fighting M.E/ CFS and if this continues, I would recommend that everyone should try it! Here is a link to an article giving you ten reasons why drumming is good for your health 🙂

If you struggle with loud noises you can be comforted that when learning to play, the drums are covered in foam to reduce the noise effectively, and if you want a drum set at home, you can get an electronic set which has headphones and volume control.

Perfect!

My practice drum set

My practice drum set

Mmmmmmm…..

garfield

I have been feeling much better today after a good nights sleep. Sleep makes a lot of difference and I only wish that I could guarantee 8 hours quality  shut-eye every night as this would make my life so much easier. My GP has told me that the last thing that returns to normal after a depressive episode is sleep, so in the meantime I just need to be grateful for what I get.

What worries me about today however is that I have done much more than I have done for many months. This is dangerous territory for anyone suffering from ME/CFS as it usually means that we will pay the price tomorrow, next week, next month when our bodies realise that we have expended far more energy than we have stockpiled and we are running “on empty”. I am therefore determined to rest tomorrow to try and recover some of the excess energy I have used today. It may work, it may not and I have only myself to blame if I have overdone things to the extent that it exhausts me. Pacing is absolutely the key to managing this illness and if I don’t have the discipline to do that I can expect a relapse.

Harsh but true. Unfortunately. I am sure that there are many more people out there who experience the same challenge. Those who like me are normally high energy, high achieving individuals who now find that we have to be more measured and conservative in our approach to life. Sadly our energy and enthusiasm are our enemy and it is difficult to manage the reality of our performance against our expectations.

Grrrrrrr…it is very frustrating and I doubt whether I will ever come to terms with having to rein myself in but I can only do my best. Every day I am working against the high tide of my personality type. I am not measured and controlled. I am emotional not objective. I feel things deeply and I never, ever stop doing things. From the moment I get out of bed to when I eventually close my eyes at night, I am doing something constructive. Otherwise, it’s a waste of time.

Living in both sides of a parallel universe would be a perfect solution but I guess that’s too much to expect!

In the meantime I have to conserve my energy as best I can and move forward. I have hope and support from friends, family and colleagues. I will not let this illness stop me from doing what I do best.