What is going on with my brain?
March 16, 2017 8:28 AM   Subscribe

In the past few months, I've been experiencing a dramatic worsening of my mental functioning and my tendency toward health anxiety isn't helping me assess the situation.

Over the past maybe 6 months or so, I've been having what I believe to be major trouble with both my cognitive and neurological function. However, I have issues with health anxiety and I don't know whether I'm overreacting or not.

Here's what's happening. My current diagnoses are chronic migraine, fibromyalgia, ADHD, depression, and generalized anxiety, but things have never been this bad. I've put asterisks by the most concerning parts.

*1. My memory is shot. I will start a sentence and have no idea how to finish it or what I was going to say. This happens multiple times per day. I also forget things that have happened, mostly recent events.

*2. My auditory processing is very sluggish. It takes me longer to come up with answers to questions and I find it very hard (and sometimes impossible) to concentrate on any speech at all.

3. I might be experiencing small bits of lost time. I can't say that for sure, though.

*4. I am seeing a lot of movement in my peripheral vision, but there's nothing real there.

5. I have a lot more eye floaters than I did 6 months ago.

6. Everything is seeming much less real to me, including myself. I also catch myself thinking things that are irrational, bordering on delusional. I can question it and realize it's not true, but it's still worrisome.

*7. I've lost all initiative and motivation. I don't want to do anything, including go to doctor appointments. It's so bad that I feel like I can't do anything. I've missed work and missed family activities.

*8. Everything just seems so overwhelming. Light is too bright, sounds are too loud, tasks are too difficult (even when they're not).

I am medicated for the above diagnoses, though I don't take my ADHD meds very often because they kill my appetite, then I don't eat, then I get a migraine because I didn't eat.

Back in late October, I began experiencing extreme pain in my right wrist, which was injured back in 1993. I was tentatively diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome after multiple instances of level 10 pain and multiple trips to the ER. This lasted till late December and things have slowly been improving since then, though the pain will never truly go away. I've wondered whether the trauma of that whole situation might be affecting me now, but I was experiencing some of these issues beforehand.

I'm sure I'm forgetting something, but I need to get this posted before I forget about it and accidentally close this tab. I know YANMD, but I need to know whether these things are cause for concern or par for the course with my particular problems. Thank you!
posted by altopower to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Low-hanging fruit: go back on your ADHD meds for a month and eat by the clock, not your appetite. The meals don't have to be inspired, they just need to contain 3-400 calories and be easy enough to prepare that you go do it when your phone reminder tells you to. One of them can be a nutritional shake/smoothie, and two can be a frozen microwave meal but try to add on some kind of recognizable fresh fruit/veg at least once a day so the lack of fiber doesn't become a hindrance.

After a month you should at least be able to report back to your doctor "I did all that by the book and I'm still having these issues."

If it's possible, medical treatment for your anxiety might be indicated.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:47 AM on March 16, 2017 [8 favorites]

Have you had a sleep test? (I feel like I need to make a bot to post this, since I'm always mentioning it!) I went through a time of feeling spacy, foggy-brained, low-energy and unmotivated, and it turns out I had severe sleep apnea. A CPAP machine gave me my life back.

If you haven't had a sleep test, insist on one. Ideally, get an in-lab test, because Kaiser's chintzy little at-home clip-on monitor didn't diagnose me, but when I pushed for an in-lab test, it caught my apnea - partly because it was REM-related, and while I stopped breathing over 60 times an hour (!!!) my blood oxygen didn't go as low as could be expected.

Poor sleep will exacerbate any existing health problems - and sleep issues are way underdiagnosed in women, especially younger or thinner women.

Another thing I've experienced - if you are taking any kind of benzo, when it wears off you might feel a rebound effect - for me, that included derealization and panic attacks. I had been put on Restoril (temazepam) for sleep issues, and kept on the damn medication way way longer than recommended - I learned it is best used two weeks maximum, and I was on it for months. Weaning off was not fun. I was already experiencing side effects. So I would check your medications and make sure you are not experiencing any side effects or cross-drug interactions.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 8:48 AM on March 16, 2017 [8 favorites]

I read this article a few days back, and thought it might interest you. kinda sounds a bit like what your brain meats might be going through?
posted by speakeasy at 9:02 AM on March 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

I would contact your doctor and not crowdsource this.

Honestly, I think the last thing a person with health anxiety ever needs is to crowdsource a medical question. You're only going to get stirred up by comments from people who are helpful but not doctors. Nobody here can answer this for you but your doctor can.

You don't need "what do you laypeople here think of my medical symptoms?" you need to talk ONLY to a doctor.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 9:21 AM on March 16, 2017 [22 favorites]

Brain fog is definitely a thing with many of your diagnoses. Also possible your depression has taken a turn for the worse. This is something to take up with your medical team.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:01 AM on March 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

You are having symptoms that impact your daily life = doctor visit. And you should try to see a doc who won't just tell you that your symptoms are "par for the course", because whether they are or not, it's affecting your work and you need help.

All of these symptoms could just be you being exhausted, and pain/trauma can definitely leave one exhausted for a long time afterward. But you've got enough going on healthwise that you should see a doc who knows your full medical history.
posted by momus_window at 10:41 AM on March 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

there are non-stimulant adhd meds that apparently do not cause loss of appetite, can you try those instead? pretty much everything you've described is how i feel when off my adhd meds.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:16 AM on March 16, 2017

Your symptoms sound 100% like they could be caused by the conditions you list yourself as having. That's emphatically not the same as saying that there's nothing to be done! It sounds like you might benefit from a med adjustment - I'd visit your psychiatrist.
posted by Ragged Richard at 11:50 AM on March 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

I would schedule visits with your psychiatrist, your neurologist, and whoever follows you for your fibromyalgia. It sounds like something's going on for sure. I've certainly experienced brain fog, exhaustion, lack of motivation, and being overwhelmed from a combination of chronic migraine, migraine med side effects, and depression--but talking with my providers also helped me manage this much better!
posted by epj at 1:43 PM on March 16, 2017

Please take this seriously. This reminds me of how I felt in the climactic mess before I was diagnosed with my mental illness (bipolar II, anxiety). I think these symptoms are serious enough to merit a medical leave from your work and some serious effort with a doctor to figure out the cause and treatment. I agree that all of this could be (and probably is) coming from your existing diagnoses, but only a doctor can say for sure. I think you and your doctor likely need to spend some time tweaking meds. I hope these things are possible where you reside and with your work situation and health insurance situation. Please take care of yourself.
posted by kitcat at 3:38 PM on March 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

I see from your profile that you are female, 38 years old. Something that might be impacting all of this is early-onset menopause. I was surprised at the number of weird symptoms I have experienced since menopause hit me. One lingering thing is a reduced ability to deal with stress and a (possibly corresponding) loss of confidence in my ability to address issues in my life. Just a thought ...
posted by eleslie at 6:02 AM on March 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Of course the best person to judge the importance of these symptoms is your doctor, but I wanted to agree with the above point that while I was reading this question my very first thought was that I wondered if you are getting enough quality sleep.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 12:06 PM on March 17, 2017

Thanks, everyone. To answer some questions, I have not had a sleep study. I do snore, but my husband (who does have sleep apnea) says I don't have any apneic episodes. I don't take any benzos. Early menopause is entirely possible... I had a test a couple of years ago when we were considering another child that indicated that my fertility was fast coming to an end. I think I need to explore other ADHD med options for sure because Adderall isn't really my friend.

A couple of things I forgot to mention: I'm also having issues with speech, where words aren't coming out right, either mispronounced or slurred or wrong word entirely. Slurring is most common.

And I just had a lot of medical leave time due to the CRPS.
posted by altopower at 5:52 PM on March 17, 2017

Please print out your symptoms and see a doctor; let us know how it goes.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 5:00 AM on March 18, 2017

While waiting for your doctor's appointment, can you try some high quality magnesium supplements and see if things improve? Your 8th point made me think of magnesium deficiency.
posted by LoonyLovegood at 8:19 AM on March 19, 2017

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