I was going to write a brilliant blog on this topic, but somewhere between thinking about it and actually writing it, the ideas all fell out of my brain. That’s the only way I can describe it … things just fall out of my brain.
I can sit and watch the other half enter a postcode into the car satnav, then a few minutes later ask him if he needs the postcode for the satnav. I can get dressed, then a few hours later look down at my outfit and have no recollection of choosing it and putting it on.
Meno-Fog is the perimenopause symptom that has really pulled the rug out from underneath me. I used to be a walking encyclopaedia of birthdays, anniversaries, pin codes, passwords, memories and knowledge. These days, however, I struggle to organise my life, constantly lose things (they are all in that safe place that I’ve forgotten about) and have to write everything down in a book or in a notes app on my phone.
As if the sleep deprivation and anxiety wasn’t enough, Old Mother Menopause has decided to go for my cognitive skills too, and I quite liked those. We are told it will pass and the fog will lift. I guess they could be right, as my fogginess can range from a light mist to a full on pea-souper.
When I was thinking about content for this blog, I had loads of great ideas. Sadly, I had nothing to write them down on and my phone was not to hand, so of course those ideas have now floated away like those little dandelion seeds on a breeze of wind.
My brain and I have had a great relationship until now – did I mention I used to be a walking encyclopaedia of birthdays, anniversaries etc? Reading was the first thing to go. To begin with, I thought my attention span had declined due to a mixture of Google remembering everything I’d forgotten and obsessive doom-scrolling on social media.
The next thing I noticed was the new skills I was teaching myself not sticking and having to refer to my besties Google and YouTube for reminders on how to do them. At work I could see I was making younger colleagues impatient. I knew all the things I wanted to say that would be perfect for the problems we were trying to resolve in projects, but I could not get the words out.
Recently I’ve become obsessed with Wordle and a group of us share our scores on a WhatsApp group each day, but I’ve stopped reading news on my phone as I feel the bite sized articles are feeding my inability to focus on reading, instead choosing to hold real newspapers and books which I find more stimulating.
I want to try and be more in control of my cognitive destiny rather than waiting for the fog to lift, so have also dusted off the knitting needles and the drawing pencils. By creating something on paper or with wool, I need to follow a process controlled by colour wheels and knitting patterns and I like how that makes me feel.
It’s been important to accept that I can’t prevent this fog, but I can make sense of it, work with it and maybe even ease it. By looking at my diet, getting the rest I need, fitting in small amounts of exercise where I can as well as picking up my hobbies and making my lists, I feel I’ve been able to get some control back. And that’s all I want really … just to feel like I have a bit of control.
The fog can descend at inappropriate moments, such as when I’m full flow in a conversation or even in a meeting at work and it’s horrible. I’ve been open with friends, family and colleagues and told them of my struggles which has really helped, especially when they witness a foggy-episode first hand. Instead of thinking I’m not interested in what they have to say, or that I can’t give them the help or advice they need, they are (mostly) just kind, understanding and totally unjudgmental.
Being surrounded by people that understand is half the battle, especially when we are struggling to make sense of it all ourselves! Not all foggy moments are the same – some days it will just be an acronym you can’t remember, other days the mist will rise and fall like a foggy rollercoaster with you literally losing your train of thought from one minute to the next. Other days I lose the ability to form complete sentences and these are the days that get me down the most because that person is the least like ‘me’.
I can have days that go past me in a blur, almost as if I’m watching everything carry on while I just stand still – these are my unproductive days that leave me feeling frustrated. I can forget picking up the car keys that are in my hand, have to return home because I can’t remember locking the door or be derailed by the smallest interruption … oh look, there’s a squirrel!
Meno-fog is a challenge I didn’t expect. It’s not pleasant to live with and can be hard to explain. So next time you are in a situation with a ‘woman of a certain age’ who appears a little befuddled and is blustering her words, be gentle with her. She’s still got the knowledge, the skills and the vocabulary, but perimenopausal-processing means it just takes a little bit longer for her to filter through at the moment.