Brain Fog and the Art of Coping

May gray and June gloom defines our weather this time of year. Coastal fog wreaths our mountains, drops our temperatures, and makes us long for sunshine. Some days the marine layer hangs on all day long, and sometimes it retreats only to return at the end of the day. I have mixed emotions about fog. It can be mysterious, incredibly beautiful, illuminating, and sometimes misleading. But day after day of gray skies can make you long for the sun—no matter how hot it gets.

So the other day when I woke up and the world was wrapped in gauzy mist, I was not surprised. This was not the serious stuff that stays all day long, blocking the sun with a solid-gray sheet of cloud. This was more like angel hair draped across the hills, sinking into depressions and rolling across the swimming pool. With this type of fog, you can step outside and feel tiny drops of mist gently fall on your face. This is my kind of marine layer because I know it will not last the day, and in its retreat, it will magically transform how I see my everyday world. 

Going outside with my first cup of coffee, I looked up at the mountains and got a surprise. There was a new hill I had never seen before. It was to the side of a peak, with two large oaks silhouetted against the sky and a row of pine trees marching across the base. In a tiny valley, the fog had gathered and exposed this new view.

Vision, as I understand it, can mean insight, actual organic seeing, or a spiritual experience.  In other words, it is seeing what is physically there and what is not there. Tricky—like fog. I read an article the other day about brain fog brought on by a kind of post-pandemic PTSD. I cannot remember the other major symptom because of … well, you know, brain fog. Not being able to retrieve a familiar word or name that is hiding in your memory, difficulty doing some slightly complicated math that you used to do in your head, retrieving an item from a different room and doing something completely unrelated (not once, but three times). You get the picture—difficulty concentrating.

I began to wonder about brain fog. Is it because we are not really seeing? Like the oak-covered hill that was unseen, clearly visible and then once again fading into the background? Or is vision in all of its aspects covered in mist? 

For me, it is not just being “in the moment” that is ephemeral. Spirituality, whether meditating, listening to a sermon, or reading an insightful book, slides into a place of vague, half-formed thoughts. Doing a complicated quilt pattern makes my eyeballs roll back in my head as if they are dissociated from my cerebral cortex. 

But the very good news is that brain fog is a temporary phenomena, just like May gray and June gloom. The way I understand it, as we learn how to renegotiate our world, gradually the fog will clear and vision in all its glorious aspects will return. 

FYI, the other symptom was exhaustion. See? I’m getting better already … but I’m really tired.

2 thoughts on “Brain Fog and the Art of Coping

  1. Loved this post and the pics to go with it Kathleen!

    We are now settled on our new PA home and adjusting. It is a beautiful house and area. It snowed 4 days after we arrived, but the weather is beautiful now. My Mom and I had our reunion on Mother’s Day. She is so excited to have me close by!

    Hope all continues to be well with you and family, including pups.



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