Navigating Mental Fog

One of the most frustrating things I’ve encountered with my illness is mental fog. I have trouble remembering things I’m supposed to do or where I’ve put things. As my mother would have said: if my head wasn’t attached, I’d lose it. I get tongue-tied a lot because I can’t think of the right word at the right moment. Names of new people I’ve met? Forget about it! Literally.

There are a few methods I use to navigate my mental fog.


I set alarms.

If I have to remember to do something at a specific time, I set an alarm on my phone. I title the alarm (otherwise I might forget why I set it), and I use a sound that doesn’t want to make the people around me hurt me. I tried to-dos, but they just weren’t obnoxious enough. I’ve done this for medication reminders and to wake myself up (literally or figuratively) when my fatigue is particularly bad.



I keep updated electronic lists of medications and medical history.

You would think I could remember the name and dosages of meds I’ve taken for years. Nope, not always. If it’s a short-term medication, like an antibiotic, I never remember. And I’ve had too many surgeries to remember the dates of all of them.

I have two files in Evernote: medication list and medical history. Any time I have a new medicine added to my regimen or a dosage change, I update my list. My medical history includes dates and details of all my surgeries and major hospitalizations, my diagnoses, and my allergies. I can open them on my phone and hand it over to a doctor or nurse, and they can find what they need. Plus, I can never remember the full name of 6-MP.



I write things down.

It might seem counter-intuitive, with all the talk of phone alarms and Evernote, but the most helpful thing I’ve found is to write things down. With a pen. In a notebook.

I’ve been using the Bullet Journal method for almost three years. I’m able to keep up with my goals, to-dos, and daily goings-on (life, work, and health) better than any digital method I’ve tried. When I was working full-time, I kept a separate notebook for work, and I may continue to keep my work-from-home/freelance project notes separate.

When a doctor asks me how many days I’ve felt like crap or when my last period started, I can take out my journal (which goes everywhere with me) and look it up. When I can’t remember how or why I did something, I can read my notes. When I have a task or date I need to remember, I write it down.


Mental fog is a fact of life for many chronically ill people, and we get tired of saying, “I forgot,” just as much as people get of hearing us say it. These three things help me a lot. Do you have different methods that help you?



Diagnosed with Crohn’s disease over 20 years ago, Kerry has been through all the ups and downs of chronic illness. She lives in the South with her awesome hubby and her escape-artist puppy. She adores the Avett Brothers, coloring, and cooking competition shows. Currently, her favorite word is sanguine.

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About Me

Learning to find peace in the midst of chronic illness after 20+ years with Crohn's disease. Always on the hunt for more spoons.

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