Feeling Stupid....

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Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2007
Total Posts : 154
   Posted 9/28/2009 9:56 PM (GMT -6)   
Hey Everyone,

Does anyone else feel as though they are just getting dumber?!

I am in my last year of college (I was diagnosed my sophomore year and took a year off to recover after kidney failure, DVT, and shingles), since my return I have found school to be SO HARD. I attend a pretty rigorous university so given it is supposed to be challenging, but I just have NO motivation to even do busywork!

My assignments are late and half-hearted, I feel that even when I study hard the resulting grade doesnt even reflect it. I also feel like I cannot hold my own in discussions, I just sound like an idiot, I used to be so good at arguing my points, now I get frustrated, anxious and worked up if I am engaged in a discussion that goes on for too long. I do not forget words or names, and I dont really lose my train of thought etc...but is this what brain fog is??

I am coherent and alert, yet I can hardly retain conceptually easy information, things just dont seem to "stick" in my brain like they used to....sometimes when I read they are just meaningless words on the page.

Sorry this was partially a venting/"woe is me" post, as I am feeling totally defeated right now, I dont even feel capable of keeping up with "normal" people anymore, at least not intellectually.

Veteran Member

Date Joined May 2005
Total Posts : 7723
   Posted 9/29/2009 12:01 AM (GMT -6)   

You might want to consider getting an evaluation from a neuropsych dr -- when they tested me we found solid evidence that my brain no longer functions as it did pre-lupus. It's sad that things have changed, but it was also a relief to know I wasn't imagining changes.

I feel a bit "off" like you are describing a fair amount of the time, but I can still sometimes string several days in a row that seem ok. Takes attention to meds, sleep, foods, and stresses for me -- hope it works out ok for you as well.
Lynnwood, Lupus & Sjogren's Moderator
Life is far too important to be taken seriously. - Oscar Wilde, 1882

Veteran Member

Date Joined Sep 2009
Total Posts : 1176
   Posted 9/29/2009 1:13 AM (GMT -6)   
We were just "talking" about brain fog and trying to work over on the fibromyalgia forum....I REALLY understand where you're coming from misscali415! Except I'm the teacher, not the student!

(The following is partially a repeat of my post on the fibro forum....it is not really a duplicate, though!)

I'm having lots of problems with brain fog...but unlike you, I'm forgetting things frequently. Just tonight as I was teaching my math class (college level), I went blank for several seconds at a time....trying to remember a word or where I was in a math problem. It's very very scary! Although the students seem to think it's funny! :)

I only teach part-time....I also have a full-time job as a scientist at a different university where I literally support a NASA mission! I just can't afford to be scatter-brained right now! :(

I've been handling my day job by asking everyone who ever gives me input on a task to please send it to me in email so that I can print things out. If they give me instructions or input verbally I won't remember it. I make LOTS of lists and tape them where I can see them.

But unfortunately, I still forget things, and I definitely can't think on my feet like I used to....

I work at a university that has several Nobel Prize winners; I work with some of the smartest people in the world. And I feel like I'm getting dumber by the second.... :(

Sorry I'm no help at all, am I? :)

Autoimmune hepatitis, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, asthma, psoriasis, Reynaud's syndrome. Possible lupus and/or Sjogren's Syndrome - diagnoses pending.

Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2007
Total Posts : 154
   Posted 9/29/2009 1:38 AM (GMT -6)   
Thank you so much for your replies! I was in a fit of tears earlier today because I am terrified that my mind is betraying me just as the rest of my body has. But just knowing that others experience the same problems and can still teach or hold jobs is so comforting!

Lynnwood, after reading your reply i did some research on cognitive disfunction and lupus and found a couple interesting articles



I will definitely make arrangements to see a neuropsychiatrist...do you know if they would still be able to tell if my mind is functioning differently post-lupus even if they do not know how my brain was functioning pre-lupus?

And is there anything I can do to preserve my mind aside from written reminders? Taking exams are so difficult for me because I have so much trouble remembering things, and I don't think my professors would allow me to refer to my notes during a test, lol.

<Edited to make links live!>

Post Edited By Moderator (Lynnwood) : 9/29/2009 9:12:15 AM (GMT-6)

Veteran Member

Date Joined Sep 2009
Total Posts : 1176
   Posted 9/29/2009 9:44 AM (GMT -6)   
One more quick comment: research has shown that if older people play games such as crossword puzzles or Sudoku, it helps to preserve cognitive function. In other words, if you don't use it, you lose it.

I've been trying to play at least one game of a difficult level of Sudoku every day.....I hope it's helping me to at least maintain my current level of cognition! :)
Autoimmune hepatitis, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, asthma, psoriasis, Reynaud's syndrome. Possible lupus and/or Sjogren's Syndrome - diagnoses pending.

Veteran Member

Date Joined May 2005
Total Posts : 7723
   Posted 9/29/2009 10:11 AM (GMT -6)   
I think the Sudoku have helped me. Crossword puzzles I couldn't do before, so I bet I can't do now! I also have tried to do some of the other games online - you can find them at "brain exercise" and Alzheimers websites. The websites you referenced are quite helpful!

MissCali - The neuropsych testing - you want this done by a person who does it full time, not just any neuropsych. It'll be a place that tests a lot of people like brain injury patients, kids who might be having trouble in school, that sort of thing.

I do know *exactly* the difficulty you are describing. I've worked as a software systems engineer on DoD satellite & other huge programs since 1980, and was almost completed with my PhD (computer & systems engineering) when lupus decided to visit. My brain used to multi-function at a very high rate of speed -- now I mostly have to concentrate on one thing, and even then I have difficulty recalling the names of things I used to work with.

On the hopeful side, it was getting worse and worse when we tried an 18-mth course of Cellcept. It seems to have stopped the decline, and I've noticed some improvement in the 2 yrs since then.
Lynnwood, Lupus & Sjogren's Moderator
Life is far too important to be taken seriously. - Oscar Wilde, 1882

Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2006
Total Posts : 2608
   Posted 9/29/2009 10:22 AM (GMT -6)   

Thanks for the terrific article. It's the first thing I have read that explains what we call brain fog in a way that distinguishes between cognitive disfunction and brain lupus, which I know I do not have.

It's a real problem, isn't it. Nasalady, you're right about puzzles and games. There is a website called Luminosity:


that has brain games that supposedly help your memory. I've tried it and it's exactly what nasalady is talking about.

I also explain my cognitive issues to my closest friends.

You don't know how much I appreciate reading this article. Thanks!

SLE, fibro, renauds, restless leg, hiatal hernia, double vision, migraines, costocondritis.

prednisone, plaquenil, leflunomide, neurontin, synthroid, triamterene, actonel, niaspan, tri-est, cymbalta, tricor, acifex

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2009
Total Posts : 4796
   Posted 9/29/2009 11:04 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi, Having MCTD and Fibro I have experianced the Fog on many occassions. It can be
frustrating, scary and even funny at times. I jokingly call my fog, brain farts.

Misscali, thank you for the informative articles.

Pat, thanks for the link to the brain games.

Hoping everyone has a fog-free day!

MCTD, Fibromyalgia, Raynauds, Osteoarthritis, Osteoporosis, Degenerative 
 Disc Disease, Hypertension, Migraines and Pseudothrombocytopenia MEDS: Methotrexate, Savella,Flexeril,Diltiazem, Boniva, Vitamins 

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jun 2008
Total Posts : 675
   Posted 9/29/2009 2:28 PM (GMT -6)   

This is a great topic - thanks to all of you.  I experienced what I considered to be "fibro fog" for many years prior to dealing with the onset of UCTD and other AI symptoms.  It would generally last a day or so and then I would return to normal.  It was generally manageable.  In the last year or so, it seems much more chronic with certain days being worse - and then I don't feel that return to "normal" in the same way.  I've never been a math or technologically oriented person - I lean towards the artistic side, and the most disturbing thing to me is loss of creative energy and thought process. 

It's like I can't pull it together or maintain focus.....it all peters out before I can make something happen.  And I also notice memory deficits and the inability to stay "audibly" focused.  Formerly I had several creative projects going on at once outside of work, along with work, family, social life, etc.  My physical fatigue has much to do with the narrowing down of all of these elements - but I've really been noticing the brain fatigue narrowing things even further and I've wondered what in the heck it means, and/or what to do about it.  It's so far beyond the occasional fibro fog days, and even on "good days" I don't function nearly at the same level I did only a couple years ago.  It may be the most depressing thing of all! 

All of the information and comments are so helpful - I'm really grateful! 




diagnoses:  mono 1972; postviral CFS 1997; fibro 1998; UCTD & osteoporosis 2007; celiac 2009
meds: Plaquenil 400 mg, occasional low dose xanax for sleep aid, artificial tears w/ ointment at night, Advil/aspirin prn and lots of vitamins

New Member

Date Joined Sep 2008
Total Posts : 15
   Posted 9/29/2009 3:02 PM (GMT -6)   

I also have severe brain fog and some very "crazy" days. A few years ago, my rheumy said I could go get tested by a neuropsych and I never went because the thought of it stressed me out. Also, I wasn't really sure what I could do with the information from the test and was worried at the time it could be used against me because I was about to go through a divorce. Does anyone have any thoughts on this? Thank you in advance.

lupus 2000, fibromyalgia 2004

Veteran Member

Date Joined May 2005
Total Posts : 7723
   Posted 9/29/2009 3:44 PM (GMT -6)   
I was tested at the suggestion of my attorney when I was having trouble with my long term disability insurance. Since the testing proved a deficit from my former performance, it supported my insurance claim and they are now paying me regularly.

The only thing I can think about it relating to a divorce is if someone was trying to prove you could not care for children...that might be an issue.

I have been quite impressed with the use of Cellcept - apparently it is not often used for this particular symptom, my dr is a bit ahead of his time. Cellcept seemed to stop the progression and generate some improvement.

I agree with all of you - it's difficult to stay focused -- no radio playing in the background anymore, can't walk a grocery store isle and try to scan items too fast or get dizzy, think I'm going deaf when its really a focus issue....crazy-making symptoms!!!
Lynnwood, Lupus & Sjogren's Moderator
Life is far too important to be taken seriously. - Oscar Wilde, 1882

Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2007
Total Posts : 154
   Posted 9/29/2009 4:19 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi everyone,

I just wanted to say thank you all again, I thought I was just literally losing my mind and didnt even know that this could be a part of having lupus. I also am drawn to more creative fields and I found math and sciences difficult, I used to be able to get by with decent grades but it seems now, like Lucy said, I have no motivation, it is just harder for me to focus and learn. I used to love drawing, and now I just dont even feel like it because I wouldnt even know what to draw...not to mention the fact that just the thought of all of my other responsibilities stresses me out...sometimes I get so overwhelmed I dont end up accomplishing anything! This happened to me for about a week and I feel so far behind in school and had to make excuses to my teachers which I felt so guilty about. now that I know that this could be part of my illness I feel relieved, I'm excited to start doing some of those memory exercises and I feel much less helpless and alone in this situation so thanks to everyone for sharing :)

Veteran Member

Date Joined Dec 2005
Total Posts : 1950
   Posted 9/29/2009 9:39 PM (GMT -6)   
I'm sorry you are having this problem, I have had it now for a long time. Iwas trying to do computer work, simple things and forgot what compuer I was working on and what I was doing. I am so forgetful sometimes it is dangerous, I burn things, ad its getting worse, then I have moments where I'm okay. Prednisone helps. In my case, I was told my brain damage, which still seems to be occurring had to do with my thyroid and endocrine problems and that it would probably be permanent. I thinkthat from pred and my already low cortisol, I am sort of low on pred normally. Even taking a small dose of pred helps me alot, in terms of energy and thinking. I lose some of my pot belly on it too.

So I think sometimes we also can become sort of naturally low on pred from being on it so much, I don't bounce back anymore ad get to where I cant stay awake. I saw a show on mystery diagnosis and the woman had Cushings and she had been "getting dumber" and barely gradulated college with help, and was falling asleep suddenly and her family had difficulty waking her. Finally they couldn't and they called an ambulance and she had had an addisonian crisis from cushings or something like that. I have been to the er and treatedfor addisonian crisis before.

You might try to make sure something else isn't wrong, likethyroid or endocrine, maybe make a case for some prednisone. Provigil is a non-steroid drug some docs prescribe to keep us going but it hadthe opposite effect on me and it made me incredibly tired. And its sort of like speed. So go figure.

Takecare and when you don't know what to draw, then maybe make a few lins and see what they look like? I'm sure they look great.
Love, Marji
Ills--Sjogrens-Lupus cond., AI polygland. dysfunction 2, hyper/hypopigment, scoliosis,kyphosis,stenosis, deg.,O.A.,spine surgeries, salivary/lymphectomies, NASH, COPD, RLS, UT/GI bleeds, hystero, brain/nerve damage,TB
Meds--INH,Plaquenil, Evoxac, Metformin, Synthroid, HCTZ, HRT and Lidocaine patchs, Voltaren gel, Klonopin, Vicodin, Restasis, Albuterol, steroids

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2009
Total Posts : 832
   Posted 10/3/2009 1:33 PM (GMT -6)   
I feel exactly the same.

Just like 8 months ago I got stupid cant remember anything or hardly think.

I am always telling people the same things over and over again.

I feel sometimes so stupid it sucks...
24 year old female
Diagnosed with :
Endometriosis march 2007
Anxiety disorder august 2007
Crohn's disease in December 2008 Then they changed it to UC in June 2009.
and Autoimmune Hepeatitis in July 2009

Medication - Asacol, Remicade, Cipralex and Cerazette.
My wonderful dogs :) ~ www.poodle.is ~

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