They call it the “Fibro Fog.” It manifests in different levels of intensity for each person with fibromyalgia, but there’s a common denominator–when the fog hits, you become forgetful and disorganized, among other things. And for someone who was already disorganized to begin with, the fog makes me resemble a headless chicken, especially when I have children to feed and deadlines to meet.
I make jokes about it now. But late at night, the questions nudge through the wall of courage I put up every day and some of them manage to poke through. How do I raise my kids to be happy, self-confident human beings when I sometimes can’t help but ping pong between Mary Poppins and Godzilla? What happens when I become so out of it that I can’t even work anymore? What happens when I’m a grandma and the fog triggers dementia or Alzheimer’s disease? (I don’t even know if that can happen, but darkness has a way of letting in all kinds of fears, especially the irrational ones.)
To silence these impostors in my head, I work with my hands. I’ve discovered that making things with my hands is therapeutic for me. Right now, typing this helps me deal with the fog. It clears my head (as clear as it can get, at least), distracts me from aching limbs, drives away depression. My hands provide a portal to a world where I know what the next step is. When I restore a piece of forgotten furniture, or turn an old thingamajig into something useful again, I break away from the fog clawing at me. It is my natural medication: turning a broken, dusty bed into a bookshelf; filling a blank screen with words and stringing them into sentences and paragraphs that make sense; sitting at the piano and making some sort of music.
But sometimes, I get too bogged down, too fenced in by this fog that I can’t do anything to fight it. My kids don’t start school until two weeks from now, so yesterday, they couldn’t believe at first that I was letting them spend practically the whole day in front of screens. They bounced from tablets to the TV to computers, totally oblivious to the fact that I had no choice but to let them. And while they basked in digital euphoria, I just sat. It was time for the random. It was time to stop pushing against the onslaught and just let it come. (It was time to be a pathetic, melodramatic whiner.)
I would like to be able to say that because of that “grand” gesture of acceptance yesterday, the fog dissipated. Of course it didn’t. But it taught me to open my eyes and my mind some more. There are some days that fighting the good fight is the thing to do in order to survive. On those days, you do whatever you can to stay afloat. And there are other days when you have to recognize that you need to just sit back, rest, and trust that the world will continue to turn, and that you can get back on it when you’re ready.