What Is Happening To Your Mind?
Chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome can devastate and decimate your mental capacities. The symptoms of this disease designate the various deficiencies in mental capacities but the most frustrating aspect of how this disease affects your mind is the way it can cause you to question your own sanity. You can begin to lose faith in your own sense of reality because your actual way of living has been so drastically altered. There is no true sense of the way you used to be able to exist and life as you knew it no longer is the same. You have no choice but to adapt to your "new" life style as a result of coping and living with CFIDS.
The anxiety of living with this illusive syndrome plus all of the additional pressures and stresses of accommodating to a completely foreign way of survival can and do cause your hidden fears and self-doubts to surface. You will question the very core of your existence and what you are to do now you are chronically ill. The issue of self-recognition will become indistinct and obscured where you are no longer really sure of where you fit into any part of what is left of your old life or what it meant to you. Your mind seems to race with unruly thoughts of you not really being too sure of who you are as a person since this sickness erases any indication of who you used to be. Your logical, comprehensive mental capacities tell you that you didn't ask to have this ostensible illness and that you have no direct control of what these viruses are doing to your entire body. Yet, you can't help but inquire to why you got it, where it came from, and when will it go away and let you have your old life back. You know that the reality of having this exhausting fatigue is that it will go away on its own and no amount of wishing for it to go away will accelerate the process. It took many months or years to get sick and it could take many more before you will totally recover. Until then, you do have to find a way to mentally cope with all of the adversities that this disease brings into your life.
There are specific manifestations with this sickness that are directly linked to your mental functioning and reasoning processes. These symptoms demonstrate themselves in various ways and can be interconnected to other physical, emotional, or spiritual chronic fatigue syndrome-related problems. Your mental malfunctions are like a wiring problem where the brain is confused and frustrated from receiving many different, contrasting incoming messages all at once. The brain itself has a chemical and hormonal imbalance problem from the onset of having this syndrome, so it has a predisposed deficit that complicates your entire mental clarity. Add to this inadequacy the disruptive influences of your body requesting appropriate responses to malfunctions occurring within them and your brain ends up feeling like it is overburdened and strained to its limit. It is no wonder that you think that you could be going crazy with so many things happening to your mind!
Symptoms of how CFS affects your mental abilities are very obvious right from the onset of the disease. You can detect these manifestations very quickly because you are so dependent on how your mind thinks and reacts to any stimuli. The most dominant mental incapacity that you will initially notice is that you can no longer concentrate on anything from a simple conversation to writing a letter. It is as if your mind somehow lost the ability to be able to focus on any subject. Even if you are totally enthralled with the content of what you are talking or writing about, your attention span is very limited. It makes no difference if you want to be alert or not. Your mind is on its own activity mode where your level of understanding seems to have temporarily quavered. Paying attention appears to be a chore within itself. Every ounce of energy that you use to hone in on what is being said or written ends up wasted on the action itself. Your brain will not allow you the aptness to scrutinize anything for any length of time. Your attention span can be measured somewhere between little to none at all times. No matter how much you focus all of your attention, your brain registers very little input and you gain very little for the amount of effort that it takes to try and concentrate. Distractions will be the norm when you have little to no concentration abilities. Any type of movement or diversion will immediately rob whatever attention you are trying to localize on it to the distraction. If you are having a conversation with someone and the telephone rings, you may answer it and come back to the discussion totally forgetting what was being said as well as where you left off in the talk. It would appear as if you ended the conversation as soon as you got up to answer the telephone. Your brain no longer has the competence to pay heed to more than one stimulus at any one time.
You may also detect that you cannot speak as clearly as you were accustomed to pre-chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome. Your brain emits a jumbled message that creates confusion for your thought processes. The words that spill out of your mouth end up not being enunciated properly or are a muddle of various thought fragments that don't make much sense. You are aware of what you meant to verbalize, but the words that came out of your mouth don't coincide with the original thought. Your immediate reaction is to inhale what you just stated and reiterate the entire declaration without seeming foolish. You may also find yourself jumping from one thought to another for no reason. Again, your brain appears to be working faster than your mouth does so you are spitting out every short, speedy thought as immediately as it is contemplated. There is no time to think out what you are going to say-it just seems to flow out at its own rate of its own accord. You can ascertain that you have another mental disability as a result of suffering with this disease once someone asks you a decided question. He may pose an inquiry to you in the midst of a conversation. You may absorb the concept of the query, but don't react or respond to it. A span of time passes and you could be in an entirely different conversation before your brain realizes that you were supposed to retort to the question that this individual asked you a while ago. Once you acknowledge that you owe this person an answer, you then immediately respond to this person's inquiry at that moment. He is so confused by your untimely comeback that there is an inauspicious embarrassing sensation that everyone around you experiences as a result of your inept reaction time. The end result is that you are totally mystified by his counteraction since you did eventually supply a reply to the question.
Another frustrating aspect of not being able to concentrate is that your comprehension level is minimal as well. Your mind appears to be overloaded in trying to absorb everything and has learned to shut itself off if you focus on any specific thing. In securing itself from all unnecessary arousal, your brain doesn't acknowledge all of the data that is being sent to it. Instead, your mind rejects all but a trivial amount of the input. There is also a lack of total awareness of what is supposed to be understood from the situation or issue. You end up sensing that you are missing something but aren't really sure exactly what you are not comprehending. You could also lose your short and long term memory. This symptom appears usually within the first two years of having CFIDS. You will initially notice that your overall memory is not as good as it once was before you starting feeling exhausted. There tends to be a "Swiss cheese" effect that occurs when your loss of memory commences. You will be able to recall some details or memories, but the ones that you wish to focus in on and remember the most are not there. It seems as if someone or something entered into your mind and erased certain particular portions of it. The loss of short term memory will be noticed before your inability to recall your long term memories. It seems that these short term memories haven't had as long to imprint themselves into your mind and end up being the first recollections to get deleted. Long term memories are apparent and distantly familiar if you concentrate on trying to recall them, but will eventually dissipate as well. Common sense tells you that trying to survive within a work environment without having the propensity to remember anything would be disastrous. This particular symptom is the one of the most prevalent reasons why most sufferers can no longer work once they have contracted this sickness. Having some type of memory capacity is a prerequisite for any kind of employment in the world today. Since most sufferers don't have the luxury of retaining their memories, they end up unemployable and find themselves on disability benefits. It is extremely frustrating to not be able to recall specific things and then to add on the fact that you are no longer capable of working emphasizes how much this sickness controls and takes from your life.
You may have had the situation of walking into a
room to get a special item and once you are in the area, totally forget why you
even walked into the room in the first place. It is an alarming situation where
you are left standing in the middle of the room battering yourself mentally to
no avail to try and recall why you came in there. Confusion can set into your
mind as well and you can also become disoriented very easily. You may get out
of bed to go to the bathroom, get into the hallway, and have no idea of where
you were headed or why. You could find yourself making a telephone call to a
person and be engaged in a conversation with him only to then realize that it
was someone else that you really wanted to speak with and meant to call. The
frightening experience of going into a familiar store and once you are in the
store becoming totally panic-stricken because you don't recognize where you are
is becoming more common than you wish as you slip further and further into this
sickness. How about the feeling of driving down your own street to head home
and suddenly thinking a fearful thought that this isn't the actual location of
where you live? All of these situations are going to happen to you at one time
or another because of your brain's ineptitude. Directions are another
impossible feat to undertake while tolerating this syndrome. You won't be able
to follow them because your perceptions of where things are as compared to
their actual locations are jumbled and perplexing. With no clear sense of
memory, little bits of concentration, and disorientation, you will become lost
very easily. You may think that writing the directions down on a piece of paper
will help, but this is not the case. You can try to read what you have written
down when you have to follow these directions, but the odds are you won't
understand them completely.
Because you are having these types of mental symptoms, you may even suppose that you are having the onset of Alzheimer's disease and not really coping with chronic fatigue syndrome at all. Yes, there are similarities to the various evidences that people who suffer with Alzheimer's disease. However, your bout with CFS is indicative of more than a loss of memory or forgetfulness. There are many physical, emotional, and spiritual symptoms to this illness besides your mental incapacities, so don't be concerned with the issue of having an early battle with Alzheimer's disease. It is not a pleasant experience to lose your sense of short and long term memory, any effort to concentrate, or reading capabilities, but these are some of the many symptoms of this syndrome that you have to find a way to live and remedy to the best of your own ability. You may swear that your brain is swelling or heavier than it used to be before you became ill with chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome. While having a pressurized frontal or back headache, there may be an indescribable sensation that you can actually feel your brain inflating, filling your entire skull, and conforming to every indentation of your bony cranium.
However, there can also be the opposite sensation as well. Feeling light-headed is a physical manifestation of agonizing with the mental affects of this illness. You could be lying down, standing, or sitting and sense that your head weighs next to nothing. Your brain somehow thinks that it is lighter than it actually is and you get the feeling from this supposition that you are going to lose your balance and before you know it, it does actually happen. When you try to stand up or walk after you have been sitting or lying down, you could become off balance, tipsy, and light-headed. You will find yourself reaching out for furniture or an arm to grasp to steady yourself so you don't fall. The idea of walking normally doesn't happen much since you now find yourself off balance, tilting, or stumbling with every step that you take. Having a normal stride is an impossibility with sensing this kind of light-headedness and loss of balance. Dizziness is another physical issue that coincides with the physical aspects of light-headedness and loss of balance. The intensity of dizziness in each sufferer is as individualized as any other symptom. You could have a lot of it or only experience it after you exert yourself. Dizziness usually occurs with the more that you move around. You could have bouts with so much dizziness that it may seem as if you really have a motion sickness or vertigo. Nausea and fainting can coincide as accompanying manifestations with dizziness.
Fainting and clumsiness can become so regular that you can't remember when you didn't trip as you walked. These particular symptoms do correspond with the other issues of being light-headed, dizziness, and loss of balance. You can experience periods of fainting especially when your head feels very dizzy and disoriented. Being over fatigued or encountering an allergic reaction to an allergen can be two dominant reasons for instigating a fainting episode. Fainting seems to be your brain's way of saying that it can't handle the overload and it needs to shut these aggravating distractions off for a short while. Basically, the blood flow to your brain is disrupted and it reacts to this confusion by causing you to pass out.
You may also find yourself feeling very awkward and bumbling in your own familiar environment as other physical responses to your miscommunicating brain messages. Banging into walls as you maneuver a corner, clashing dishes together as you wash them, whacking your knees on the corner of your end table, or literally falling into your bed instead of gradually lying down are some ways that your brain is telling you that it can't properly respond to all of your body's malfunctioning commands.
A simple test that you can do to sense how your brain is no longer capable of coping with your involuntary bodily commands (such as balance) is to stand up with your eyes closed, extend your arms straight out, and keep both feet together on the floor. You will detect immediately that your balance is not good. You will think that the weight of your brain in the back of your head is too heavy and is causing your body to topple over head first. Another test is to close your eyes and extend your arms straight out from your body while standing. Attempt to touch your nose with your forefinger from one hand and then try the other. You will quickly discover that you can't touch your nose with your finger on either hand. Your brain cannot get the correct message from your body and vice versa because there is so much dysfunctional interference in your thought processes.
The natural process of having your brain rest or sleep can be another uncomfortable experience to undergo in suffering with CFIDS. You will never have a really good night's sleep as long as you tolerate this disease. Sleep is your body's way of resting and it is constantly in an over or under active state. Since there is no way to control or monitor when your brain over or under reacts to a specific type of stimuli, you have no indication of when and if you will be able to fall asleep. Even though your body and brain are overly exhausted, insomnia is often the result. You will find yourself lying in bed not being able to sleep even though you went to bed at your normal bed time. Instead of relaxing and dozing off to sleep, you end up tossing, turning, and wrestling with the bedding all night long. Your body responds to your brain's confusing messages of trying to stay awake by prickling your muscles into activity and creating an all over uncomfortable sensation. How can your brain expect your body to relax and loosen up if it is motivating your body to stay awake? If you finally do drift off into dreamland, it won't be for long. Your brain somehow gets out the message that you aren't to relax for longer than a few hours at a time. Your "new" internal alarm clock seems to be set for no matter what time you finally fall asleep and there is no apparent reason for why your brain finds this to be an opportune time to stimulate your body. If this particular sensation doesn't occur than you can count on being awakened by night sweats. You can end up being soaked with perspiration from sweating so profusely. This situation can result in you waking up feeling chilled or overheated depending on what message your body is sending out when your brain registers the sweats affecting your body temperature. You may have never had a problem with sweating while you slept before you became ill, but thanks to chronic fatigue syndrome, it will become a common nightly occurrence.
Sleep disturbances tend to occur in cycles where you may have six, eight, ten, twelve, or fourteen hours of sleep for a week and then the next week get one, two, or three hours of rest per night. It is a frustrating, aggravating set of circumstances to contend with over and over again. On the nights where you don't get much sleep, you will sense that your mind is on overload and all your conscious thoughts seem to be whirring around in your head at an accelerated rate. Inconsequential things can surface and be in your foremost thoughts for mere seconds and then dissipate and another trivial idea will take its place. The racing brain sensation can make you feel as if you are going crazy.
You may have to fight to keep yourself in bed because lying there with all of this stuff happening inside of your head will make you feel slightly demented. It is best to try to stay in bed so that your brain gets the message that you are in your sleep mode and your body requires rest. If you do get up and do something, such as read or eat, your brain will acknowledge this "new" behavior as the one it should adjust to and then you will find yourself waking up every night at this time for your body to go and read or eat. Going to bed at odd hours as compared to your normal schedule can throw your brain into a tizzy as well and you will detect that it thinks your "new" hours are your desired bed time. You will climb out of bed in the wee morning hours feeling more tired than when you went to bed and your brain will seem to be in a "holding pattern" for the day.
When you do finally fall asleep, you can have extremely strong colorized dreams that are clearer and more distinct than you have ever experienced before. You will tend to have no problems remembering these apparitions. There is no explanation for this occurring phenomenon and it makes very little logical sense since your memory is not functioning properly that you should be able to recall these visions as readily as you can.
Another aspect of this condition is that you may find yourself finally drifting off to sleep (after being awake all night long) two to three hours before the time you had planned on arising. You will be so exhausted from getting no sleep for so long that your mind finally relaxes enough to allow some sleep to creep into your entire being. It will seem that you just fell asleep when your body wakes itself up or you hear the alarm clock ringing. Frustration and anger will be the immediate responses when you initially open your eyes. How can it be that at last your mind quieted down enough to allow sleep and now your body is already waking up? Only the internal workings of your mind have the answer to that question!
Your mind can also create specific manifestations that are in response to an either imagined or non-existent stimuli. You will find yourself having panic attacks where your brain has somehow concocted that there is something to be frightened about when there is no external cause for this reaction. Your fabricated mental sensations are of fear, dread, and alarm. Your sanity seems to be in a state of limbo because you can comprehend that there is no sane rationalization for the anxious thoughts that you are thinking. There is nothing tangible to justify the uncomfortable, troubling notions running around in your brain. You know you aren't crazy, but you can't help wondering where these beliefs are emanating from inside of your own thought processes. Why would you be afraid and scared of nothing?
You will inevitably agonize with another mental mystification of having this syndrome. . depression. This particular manifestation gets more attention than any other mental aspect of chronic fatigue syndrome. Some physicians aver that this specific condition is really the actual cause of the illness. The truth is that your brain's chemical and hormonal imbalance is causing it to create various mood swings within your body. One moment could be full of bliss and the next contains sadness. There is a definite chemical basis for what is happening in your mind. The type of depression that you are experiencing in conjunction with CFS results from the frustration and despondency of not being capable of having a normal life any longer. This sickness expunges so much of your old life style that you end up left with nothing but faith and trust in yourself. You can't do the things you used to do from working to parenting, so you end up thinking and feeling that you are less of a person than you used to be. Despair becomes the new reminder of what you have lost.
The actual thought that this disease will compel so much pain and debility for months and/or years is enough to make you feel melancholy and you wouldn't be human if you didn't have some intense mental reactions to being chronically ill. It is an extremely incomprehensible "life sentence" that chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome sufferers have to live out in contracting a disease that isn't lethal. There is no type of preparation that can get you ready for the total disruption that will occur in your life. Your perspective of being has been drastically altered and you have no option but to adjust to it. Keeping a positive mind set and focusing on a healthy future instead of your past and present health issues are the two most important thought processes to helping your mind heal your body. These tasks can be impossible to accomplish when you are thinking sad, distressing things such as never getting over this syndrome or that you can't stand having to live within the restrictions that CFIDS causes in your life.
Nevertheless, if you don't acknowledge that suffering with this sickness is overwhelming and sometimes irremediable, you are setting yourself up for a mental breakdown. Your mind can't survive on illusions of what you think your life is like. If you sense no acceptance of this illness and what it is doing to your life, you are deluding yourself into believing that this whole set of circumstances is a temporary shift in your life choices. You didn't choose to get this sickness and chronic fatigue syndrome isn't an imaginary happening that is going to go away because you want it to. Your mind requires real, true facts to build a solid foundation of balance and coherence to help you keep your sanity through this trying ordeal. Thinking nurturing, healing thoughts is a large part of keeping your wits about you. If you can accept this disease as a part of your life and acknowledge that you have no choice but to carry on despite it, you will still have a full life. It may not be exactly what you envisioned your life style to be at this point in time, but at least you have a life and a life style to lead. You can be grateful that this illness isn't terminal even above and beyond all of the pain that you have to endure. One of the lessons you will learn from having to tolerate this sickness is a greater appreciation of life and in turn that appreciation will accelerate your desire to stay alive and well.
There will be times when you should allow yourself to think about the seriousness of contracting and coping this syndrome. You need to let your thoughts drift into the sobriety of how strong you really are. You prove this fact to yourself every time you open your eyes and start a new day. You are sane and if you choose to, will keep your good mental health throughout the entire duration of this illness. It sometimes takes a life-altering experience, such as suffering with this sickness, to shake you up enough to design new life-enhancing goals and opportunities. At the point where you understand and comprehend these probabilities as a reality is where you can begin to center your thoughts on getting the most out of your life-sick or not-and appreciating each and every pleasant inspiration that formulates itself in your mind.
Very few people may appear to really believe you are tolerating such an illusive disease-sometimes not even your own doctor, family, and friends. It is understandable for you to have some strong mental and emotional reactions to their disbelief. There will be times where they can even convince you that maybe you are not really sick and that what is happening to you is simply some kind of undiagnosed mental illness. You may find yourself slipping into this "mental trap" because you are thinking negative thoughts and feeling so much agony that no one can seem to explain and/or validate.
Don't allow anyone to convince you of sensations that you recognize as your own reality. These individuals can't understand what you are putting up with day after day. Your mind reassures you to the fact that you are truly suffering with CFS each and every time you acknowledge any of the many symptoms that you feel. If you let yourself think in the identical perspective as the "disbelievers" in your life, you will give credence to their discredits and mistrusting attitudes. You have to believe in yourself and heed what your own brain is telling you. There is no hidden mental delirium or misdiagnosed demented mind within you. Yes, your thought processes may be tinted with depression, but this condition is a result of organic causes not a mental one. You are not crazy! You are thinking as clearly and concisely as can be expected within the realms of this disease. Rely on your own capacity to judge yourself and your mental reactions to your adjusted life style. You are a rational individual living with an irrational disease.
You have to expect the most predictable response from your health care practitioner in regards to diagnosing your symptoms that affect your brain functions. In reality, there is no definitive tests or examinations that can positively state why your brain acts the way it does in accordance with the chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome infection raging throughout your body. Your physician may do cognitive diagnostic tests to evaluate your condition-MRI scans, SPECT scans, brain mapping, vestibular studies, and sleep studies-but all will show little to no indication that your mind isn't functioning as well as it could be. How can your doctor truly understand what is happening within your mind if he or she can't feel the identical mental distress that you are and there are no examination results to back up your claims? You will end up being perplexed and frustrated with your physician after the entire testing ordeal is done. There is nothing that he or she can do to alleviate your mental symptoms. You have to learn to somehow cope with the disturbances.
You are the one who can do something to help your own mental health. Avoid stress of any kind because it does exacerbate any negativity that you feel. Accept the changes that have occurred in your life because of this illness and flow with them instead of against them. You will have a more comfortable conversion if you can mentally adjust to perceiving life this way. You can take control of this clash with CFIDS by comprehending your own mental power. Your mind can help heal your body when you focus, maintain lucid, serene thoughts, and direct your mental energy in a positive way. There are many thought alterations that you will have to make to accommodate living with chronic fatigue syndrome and these changes will demand an enormous psychological acclimatization on your part.