About Brain Fog After Traumatic Experiences

When a person dies, their surviving loved ones often go through something called “grief brain.”  Grief brain is that brain fog that happens after losing someone you love.  It happens because the grief is fresh & new so you haven’t had time to adapt to it.  It also happens because you’re trying to figure out how to adapt to this “new normal” of life without your deceased loved one.

The brain likes certainty so it can predict what is going to happen.  Going through your daily routine is comfortable.  You know what is going to happen.  Little surprises can create a bit of anxiety but seldom anything terrible.  Bigger surprises such as the sudden or unexpected death of a loved one, creates a great deal more anxiety.  Suddenly the brain has to work much harder to figure out what is happening.  It focuses on what is wrong & how to fix this situation.  With resources focused on the situation, the brain has much less resources available to focus on other things.

This brain fog, or grief brain, after someone dies is a perfectly normal part of the grief process.  Not that it feels normal at the time, but it is.  It also doesn’t last forever, thankfully!

Losing someone you love isn’t the only situation that can cause such a brain fog.  Trauma can cause it.  Repeated trauma definitely causes it.

Trauma damages the brain, it’s a well known fact.  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder & Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorders are in fact less mental illness & more brain injuries due to traumatic experiences.  Brain damage from trauma as well as the brain trying to adapt to life after trauma definitely create a brain fog.  That fog can be one of the most frustrating parts of having C-PTSD or PTSD. 

I’ve had symptoms of C-PTSD ever since I can remember, but they developed fully in 2012.  One of the last symptoms to develop is this brain fog.  And, it got worse after suffering brain damage from carbon monoxide poisoning.  I’ve spend a lot of time frustrated with it, but I have learned some ways to cope.

Naturally prayer is a constant.  I ask God to help me however I need, & He listens when I get frustrated about forgetting something or can’t focus.  He is so helpful!  Even simply offering comfort is a huge help sometimes.

I also try to accept it for what it is.  I wouldn’t get mad at my body if I had cancer & became disabled because of it.  How can I get mad at my brain for not working right after all it’s been through?

I firmly believe in hoping for the best while preparing for the worst.  I hope & pray things improve, but if they don’t, I have ways to cope.  Brain injury of any sort is very unpredictable & also very unique to each person.  You just don’t know what the brain will do.  Cope with your symptoms as best you can while hoping & praying they improve. 

Use technology.  I love Google Keep for notes & to do lists.  I also love Google Calendar for helping me keep track of appointments & dates bills are due. 

Writing is very useful tool, too.  I don’t mean necessarily writing books.  I mean writing in general.  Keeping a journal is helpful for documenting your life as well as coping with your emotions.  Writing to do lists can be helpful because the act of writing things down can help the brain to remember them easier.

Spending time being creative is helpful, too.  Draw, paint, work with clay, cross stitch, take up woodworking.. whatever you decide to do isn’t important.  Making something with your own two hands is all that matters.  It helps exercise the brain by making you think of how to make whatever you’re trying to make & is incredibly rewarding when you see the fruits of your labor.

You can cope with brain fog!  xoxo

6 Comments

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health

6 responses to “About Brain Fog After Traumatic Experiences

  1. Stella Reddy

    Thanks for this.. It has been mentioned to me before but I passed it off as I also have Fibromyalgia, which also gives me brain fog. I have it daily and yes, keeping notes, schedules, and having a routine does help me to focus and stay on track. I’ll check this out some more.

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  2. Thanks for adding suggestions at the end of your insightful post.

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  3. I struggle with this too. I guess it’s no surprise, considering that I have been knocked unconscious four times, three of which were due to abuse. And that’s not counting the knocks on the head that stunned me, but did not make me lose consciousness. On top of all the trauma and abuse that I’ve survived in my life, it’s a wonder that my brain can function at all.

    When I was in my twenties, I took a proctored Mensa test and my IQ was very high. But I would not want to take an IQ test now, as I suspect it would only be about average, and maybe even below average, because of all my traumas. Lately I have been doing this thing where I ask my husband if he wants anything — he’s recovering from neck surgery and a foot injury — and he tells me what he wants, like an apple or a bagel or a cup of coffee — and I walk from the living room into the kitchen and start working on something that I see needs doing, without a thought in my head about what I had gone in there to get, until maybe 30 minutes later when I go back into the living room and my poor hubby asks where his coffee or apple is… sigh.

    Writing seems to help me. And riding my stationary bike a few miles every day. And cuddling with the dogs. I also think that playing computer solitaire and creating graphic designs on my computer’s Printmaster program helps my brain. And I pray a lot, and ask the Lord to heal my brain so that I will never be a burden on anybody. My mother has dementia now, and her only sibling, my aunt who died in 2020, had very severe dementia when she died. And she, too, had a genius IQ. According to what I have read, having a mother and an aunt with dementia greatly increases my risk of Alzheimers. Oh, and I also read that my rare blood type, AB negative, gives me a much higher risk of developing Alzheimers.

    It’s freaking scary. If I didn’t have faith in the Lord, I don’t know how I would handle this worry.

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    • It is amazing you can function at all! Either abuse or head injuries can cause havoc but both together?! Daaaannggg! I truly am amazed how well you’re doing though. Talking to you, I’d never know you had such problems.

      It’s good you’re doing such things. Anything to exercise the brain helps I think.

      It’s terrifying having relatives who have had dementia or Alzheimer’s. My father & his father had Alzheimer’s so that crosses my mind too.

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