Christian Living


Marriage 911 06/09/16

The Debilitating Brain Fog of Emotional Abuse

Tired woman

Imagine being awake for 48 hours without sleep. Imagine being so tired you cannot think straight. Imagine being aware of how tired you feel, knowing you are not thinking clearly, having a vague sense that you are fuzzy-headed and unable to make healthy, clear decisions.

This description is a tip of the iceberg of what happens to victims of emotional abuse.

To get help for your marriage from Dr. Hawkins and his qualified staff, please visit The Marriage Recovery Center website or call 206-219-0145.

Brain fog is real. Brain fog—the fuzzy-headed feeling of being unable to think clearly—is a natural by-product of emotional abuse. Consider the following dialogue:

"I'm not happy with the way you're treating me," a woman shares with her husband. "You've been mean and sarcastic to me for the past hour."

"I don't know what you're talking about," he says. "You're the one who treats me bad. I'm not doing anything to you that you don't do to me."

"But I'd like to talk about how you treat me," she protests. "You've been snapping at me for the past couple hours."

"I can't believe you're saying that," he snaps. "You've had an attitude ever since I walked in the door. Something else is bothering you and you're taking it out on me. I'm not going to listen to this."

"Can we please talk about your tone and your anger?" she persists, trying to get him to listen to her. "I really care about whatever might be bothering you."

"Nothing is bothering me except for you," he shouts. "I'm not going to listen to any more of this."

"I want just want to talk to you," she says as he walks out of the room.

Slumping into a chair she grabs her head and begins to cry. She wonders if her children will see her and so quickly collects herself. Her head is spinning and she now doubts herself.

"Maybe he hasn't been treating me poorly," she considers.

"Maybe I'm the one who is treating him badly."

"Maybe I'm making too much out of this."

Her thoughts become more muddled as the "brain fog" settles in.

Can you see how this woman can shift from a position of clarity and conviction to one of confusion? Can you see how this man challenges everything she thinks and feels, leaving her to doubt herself and wonder about everything she is thinking? Such is the world of the emotionally abused.

Thank God that He does not want us to be confused and will help us have clarity. "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." (II Timothy 1:7) God will help you become clear.

How can you come out of the fog and into the clear light, remembering the Jesus wants us to be clear? Scripture makes it clear that what is in the darkness must be brought into the light and will be brought to the light. Let's reflect on this scripture and the positive impact it can have on you: "For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open." (Luke 8:17)

Let's further consider some steps you can take if you are experiencing "brain fog."

1. Journal or write things down.

Journaling is not only a way to keep things straight, but a way to do therapy with yourself. When you take note of your situation you not only externalize the problem, gaining perspective, but are able to note certain critical issues in your life. You will see patterns in a new way and know what changes must be made in your life.

2. Know yourself and live accordingly.

No one knows you like you know you. No one can tell you what helps or hurts better than you. As you journal, taking notice of your life, you will be able to make important changes to your life. You will discover aspects of your relationships that hurt and help and will learn more about what changes are needed in your life.

3. Talk things out.

There is no alternative to having a supportive group of friends who will come alongside you and give you love. They will support you in making difficult decisions. Difficult times call for having an extra dose of love and support from people who truly care about you. Helpful friends will support you in making difficult decisions that bring about clarity in your life.

4. Keep things simple and routine.

As you learn about yourself, you will discover what adds to your "brain fog" as well as what hurts. Typically, most struggling with "brain fog" need life to be simple and uncluttered. They need simple routines and practicality to their life. This, of course, includes not only your physical surroundings but your emotional/relational life as well. Surround yourself with people who bring energy and positive life to you.

5. Get good medical/psychological help.

You will discover what medications help and which ones add to your brain fog. You will learn whether you should be on any medications at all, and having a trusting relationship with your medical practitioner/psychologist is critical. You will know if counseling can be helpful to you as well. Know your body and your mind and make decisions accordingly.

6. Laugh, love, and live.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine." (Proverbs 17:22) Certainly you have discovered that sitting in the sun with a good book, relaxing with trusted and loved friends, and laughing around a good meal bring happiness and dispel some of the symptoms of "brain fog." Know what circumstances cause you to live, laugh, and love large. Repeat as needed!

Are you suffering from "brain fog?" Are you taking good care of yourself? Know that you cannot fully recover as long as the emotional abuse continues. You must be in a healing environment to begin to heal. Practice the tools above, adding to them as you learn more about yourself, and begin to feel better.

If you have further thoughts on this topic, we would love to hear from you. Share your opinion in the comments section below or email me a confidential note. Read more about The Marriage Recovery Center at marriagerecoverycenter.com. There, I offer more ideas on how to save a marriage in trouble.                    

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