Managing Bipolar Fog and Thinking Difficulties

Sometimes my brain feels like a dense fog. I have trouble thinking for the right word for common objects. Not a good thing for a preaching pastor.

My memory gets cloudy about recent conversations. My focus is good but my organization looks like disorganization. Once a quick learner it takes time for me to absorb new information.

There are times when I notice my coordination is not very good.

I have bipolar “brain fog”.

Diagnosed with bipolar 2  twelve years, I have been in remission for six years.

Yet even in remission I have difficulties with thinking. This cognitive confusion is part of the disease for a percentage of people with bipolar.

For me some of the “fog” experienced in my depressive episodes continues. I have been surprised about that.

Perhaps you have a similar experience. Here are a few things I have learned.

There are scientists who believe that bipolar disease may effect the frontal part of the brain where new information, verbal ability, and concentration are processed. The hippocampus is part of this system.

Other researches believe these glitches may be a side-effect of some of the medicines. Others believe that ADHD may be the culprit since there is a higher percentage of those with bipolar that have ADHD than the general population.

Enough about the problem, what are some things that can help manage the “fog”.

The first step is to discuss this with your psychiatrist. Let her know what you are experiencing. Researchers are actively looking for medication to aid these cognitive difficulties.

Consistent exercise can improve the functioning of the hippocampus in the frontal part of the brain. Exercise can make a difference. Meditation or practicing relaxation exercises can also improve cognitive function.

Personally, I have found that adequate sleep is a requisite for the fog to lift. When I get tired, which is much sooner that it was before my disease was diagnosed, my concentration and memory suffer. I find time in the afternoon to rest when my concentration flags.

Be aware of your coordination shortcomings. Climbing ladders may not be a good idea.

To assist your memory, take thorough notes of reading material you want to learn. A smart phone with the ability to remind you of appointments or to do lists helps navigate the day.

Exercising your mind with games, video games, learning activities will help increase your ability to think more clearly.

Finally, capitalize on your strengths. Hone the skills that you have, use them to guide you through the fog.

So what are the spiritual lessons?

We all have limitations but we have a limitless God. The apostle Paul was limited by a jail cell, yet God transcended the limits and used him to write letters, letters that make up much of the New Testament we read today.

“My dear friends, I want you to know that what is happened to me his help to spread the good news. The Roman guards and all the others know that I am here in jail because I serve Christ. Now most of the Lord’s followers have become brave and are fearlessly telling the message. “Philippians 1:12–13

The gospel spread to the palace through the Roman guards. Other believers found courage to speak about Christ.

We can read about it today in a letter to his friends the Philippians that was written from jail.

In 2 Corinthians Paul tells of praying for one of his limitations—he calls it a thorn— to be removed from his life.  “I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Keep hoping and coping. God’s grace is sufficient for you and me.

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