Cognitive Dysfunction


They were all staring at me, every last one of them. My coworkers and I sat around on the table at the meeting, and they were waiting for me to speak. And I was waiting for the words to be filtered down from my brain. But they never came. It was like I had been wiped clean, a blank slate. I knew the information was there, somewhere, why wasn’t it where I needed it to be? I searched my brain again. Nothing. The only thought that eventually came was

‘Isn’t this what nightmares are made of?

 

Approximately half of all people who have MS will have cognitive dysfunction, or possibly more, if it goes unreported. Cognitive dysfunction is felt differently by each individual, what one person finds as a mild impairment, might render another unable to work. Cognitive issues can include trouble with memory and recall, attention, concentration, information processing and word recall among others as well. It is often listed as a “mild” to “moderate” impairment, however it doesn’t feel that way. Lets look closer at some of these specifics.

Short Term Memory and Recall

This is one of the most frequently reported cognitive issues in the MS community. Issues with short term memory often looks like walking into a room and forgetting why you went in there in the first place. Not remembering if you took your morning pills or not (one I struggle with often). Some times you may even repeat stories, or sentences, thinking you haven’t mentioned it, but in reality, you told it several times (another personal struggle).

Recall of information can also be inhibited. There have been several studies that have suggested that individuals with MS are capable of learning and storing of information just fine but have trouble recalling the information when needed (like duh). However, one article I read gave another answer to this issue. This article states that individuals with MS need a longer time to learn the new information from the start. When given adequate time to learn the information, recall of the information is the same as individuals without MS. This suggests that the issue lies in learning, not recall. Perhaps instead of memory and recall being our number one cognitive issue, it is really attention and processing! A new area of study, for sure!

Attention and Concentration

As I noted above, attention is something that people with MS struggle with greatly, probably more than we think as well. Staying on task can be difficult at times for non-MSers, but for us, it is a struggle all the time for sure. Staying on task at work, during conversations or while trying to follow directions (cooking anyone?) can be tough. Add in background noise or multiple conversations going on at once, and forget about it! And multi-tasking? Yikes! That is something of days gone by. I used be able to carry on a conversation while I “mindlessly” did another task. Not anymore.

Slower Speed of Information Processing

This includes all of the symptoms I listed above, but it also means that our brains struggle to take in and prioritize the information that we are receiving. This can show up as issues with processing spoken language, sensory and spatial information or abstract ideas such as social cues. In one study I read about, individuals with MS were able to preform well on cognitive tests, they just did so at much slower speeds as compared to their non-MS peers.

Verbal Fluency- Word Recall

Verbal fluency, or otherwise called issues with word recall, in my opinion, are one of the most frustrating cognitive symptoms. This is defined as the “tip-of-your-tongue” phenomenon. When the word you’re trying to think of is in your vocabulary, but it has escaped you for a moment. It can happen at a moments notice and can bring a sentence to a dead halt. You can even be looking at the object you’re trying to say the name of! And still nothing.

Why does Cognitive Dysfunction Happen?

Cognitive issues are generally caused by damage in the brain. Studies have shown that lesions in the cerebral hemisphere and damage within the gray matter are most significant when measuring cognitive dysfunction. It also seems that cognitive dysfunction is more prevalent in primary progressive MS then relapsing remitting MS, however anyone at any time in their disease can experience cognitive symptoms. Cognitive symptoms can also be temporarily made worse during other times such as during a pseudo-exacerbation, when in the heat, when fatigued or during a depressive state.

Ways to Manage Cognitive Dysfunction

There are many ways to manage cognitive problems. First and foremost, give yourself some grace and compassion. Dealing with MS in general is not easy, then beating yourself up about forgetting something at the store, or forgetting a task around the house, is not going to help. Symptoms thrive on stress, so making sure we are being as kind to ourselves as possible is important.

Second, (I give this advice often) start to be aware of yourself and your symptoms. Learn what specifically makes your cognitive issues better or worse. Maybe working with music on once was doable, but now not so much? Or you were once an auditory learner, but now you need more support? Really take some time and figure it out for yourself, it’s worth it.

Third, there are ways to “exercise your brain” and improve your cognitive abilities and these include memory and attention games. There are also other things you can do including improving organizational systems, alarms, planning and taking the time to really learn subjects. Doing the most demanding tasks when you are most awake is also a good idea.

My Experience

I’ve struggled with cognitive issues for many years. Although I would categorize them as “mild”, I still think they have a rather large impact on my life, and my quality of life. The main things I struggle with are memory, recall and word recall. One of my biggest strategies to help myself are lists, I have lists everywhere! At this point, I need to write everything down. If I don’t write it down, it will be gone forever. I’ve found this is frustrating for others a lot of the time too. Someone will tell me something or ask me to do something, and literally 30 seconds later it has evaporated from my brain. Which leaves me feeling terrible! But I know that I can’t take that on. All I can do is apologize and try better next time. Word recall is another symptom that I struggle with on a daily basis. I can be looking at the kitchen table, but for the life of me can’t remember the word table! Frustrating to say the least. But I know that the more I work on my difficulties, the better they’ll get. I think of it as Physical Therapy for my brain.

 

I scanned the room, looking from face to face, none of them sympathetic, until I looked at my boss. She knew my story, she could tell what happened, she was sympathetic. My eyes must have conveyed sheer panic, she seamlessly picked up where I left off, and picked me up where I had fallen.

I’M ALISSA!

I help women who have also been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis make specific and personalized diet, lifestyle & subconscious changes so that they can begin to heal their body, reduce disease symptoms, and return to a life they love.hey there,

follow along on Instagram:

In case you needed to hear that today.

You’re not a failure.
You didn’t “fail” at healing.
Having MS is hard- do what’s best for you.

In case you needed to hear that today.

You’re not a failure.
You didn’t “fail” at healing.
Having MS is hard- do what’s best for you.
...

58 9
This is my challenge to you over the next week.

Take some time and think about this past year.

All you’re proud of, all you’ve accomplished. And if you have some things that don’t bring you joy, be proud of yourself for making it through in one piece and still being here.

Reflection is a great way to cultivate motivation to keep going..

You’re doing amazing.
You’ve done amazing.
Let’s keep going.
🧡❤️🧡

This is my challenge to you over the next week.

Take some time and think about this past year.

All you’re proud of, all you’ve accomplished. And if you have some things that don’t bring you joy, be proud of yourself for making it through in one piece and still being here.

Reflection is a great way to cultivate motivation to keep going..

You’re doing amazing.
You’ve done amazing.
Let’s keep going.
🧡❤️🧡
...

21 4
Comparison is the thief of joy.

Regardless of what you see others doing,
you’re right where you should be.

❤️🧡❤️

Comparison is the thief of joy.

Regardless of what you see others doing,
you’re right where you should be.

❤️🧡❤️
...

24 10
This took me completely by surprise, cause I usually roast myself after a simple mistake 🙈

But, I just didn’t? 🤷🏻‍♀️

Working on self improvement is weird.
Like I’m not even consciously working on how I talk to myself at the moment. 

Have I in the past? Sure. And it’s something I try to stay conscious of, but def have my moments where I fall into old patterns.

But this moment gave me hope.

What moments in your journey have given you hope lately?

This took me completely by surprise, cause I usually roast myself after a simple mistake 🙈

But, I just didn’t? 🤷🏻‍♀️

Working on self improvement is weird.
Like I’m not even consciously working on how I talk to myself at the moment.

Have I in the past? Sure. And it’s something I try to stay conscious of, but def have my moments where I fall into old patterns.

But this moment gave me hope.

What moments in your journey have given you hope lately?
...

55 2
Thank you for supporting my business this past year. 

Because in reality, you’re supporting me.

So thank you.
Scott thanks you too!

Thank you for supporting my business this past year.

Because in reality, you’re supporting me.

So thank you.
Scott thanks you too!
...

38 7
👉🏼Feeling stuck with your MS symptoms?
👉🏼Feeling like your body betrayed you and is working against you?
👉🏼Are you worried you’re stuck like this and will never get better?

I get it. At one point I did too.

Years ago I was experiencing “Aggressive MS” and I thought I’d never function the same.

I thought my days of moving how I wanted, or doing anything on a whim were over.

I couldn’t walk well, couldn’t feel my body correctly and I was SCARED.

But now?
I’m confident in the ways I’m helping myself.
I no longer have aggressive MS.
I can move how I want, when I want.

Because of the changes I’ve made over the years.

No, it’s not easy, but that’s where I come in!!

I’ve dedicated my life to helping those with MS realize that feeling better is possible and helping them get there.

My 2 courses and my membership are on sale this weekend for Black Friday,

want to start your own success story??

Comment SUCCESS below and I’ll send you the link!!

👉🏼Feeling stuck with your MS symptoms?
👉🏼Feeling like your body betrayed you and is working against you?
👉🏼Are you worried you’re stuck like this and will never get better?

I get it. At one point I did too.

Years ago I was experiencing “Aggressive MS” and I thought I’d never function the same.

I thought my days of moving how I wanted, or doing anything on a whim were over.

I couldn’t walk well, couldn’t feel my body correctly and I was SCARED.

But now?
I’m confident in the ways I’m helping myself.
I no longer have aggressive MS.
I can move how I want, when I want.

Because of the changes I’ve made over the years.

No, it’s not easy, but that’s where I come in!!

I’ve dedicated my life to helping those with MS realize that feeling better is possible and helping them get there.

My 2 courses and my membership are on sale this weekend for Black Friday,

want to start your own success story??

Comment SUCCESS below and I’ll send you the link!!
...

16 0
Grab your path to healing!!

These are the lowest prices for my courses like ever, and they won’t be back. (And they’ll prob be going up in the new year- planning some updates!!)

Comment HEALING below and I’ll send you a link, or check out my stories!!

Grab your path to healing!!

These are the lowest prices for my courses like ever, and they won’t be back. (And they’ll prob be going up in the new year- planning some updates!!)

Comment HEALING below and I’ll send you a link, or check out my stories!!
...

3 2
The first step to being successful with managing stress (& being successful with anything really) is:

Awareness of where you currently are.

You can’t change or manage what you’re not aware of.

You can only know yourself as deep as you’re awareness of yourself goes.

Try this:
Right now as you read this, pause for a sec.
Take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

Where were my thoughts?
Where is my breathing?
What am I saying to myself?

Get really honest here too (warning- it might be uncomfy)

What did you discover while checking in? Let me know in the comments!

-
-
If we haven’t met yet, Hi! 👋🏼👋🏼 I’m Alissa. I’m a Holistic Practitioner & Therapist specializing in MS. 
I use all the tools I’ve comprised over my 10+ year career (and 14+ years with MS) to help my clients with MS decrease their symptoms, improve their overall health and get back to living life on their terms, not MS’ terms.
Interested to hear how that might look for you? Comment 🧡 below or DM me and we’ll chat!

The first step to being successful with managing stress (& being successful with anything really) is:

Awareness of where you currently are.

You can’t change or manage what you’re not aware of.

You can only know yourself as deep as you’re awareness of yourself goes.

Try this:
Right now as you read this, pause for a sec.
Take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

Where were my thoughts?
Where is my breathing?
What am I saying to myself?

Get really honest here too (warning- it might be uncomfy)

What did you discover while checking in? Let me know in the comments!

-
-
If we haven’t met yet, Hi! 👋🏼👋🏼 I’m Alissa. I’m a Holistic Practitioner & Therapist specializing in MS.
I use all the tools I’ve comprised over my 10+ year career (and 14+ years with MS) to help my clients with MS decrease their symptoms, improve their overall health and get back to living life on their terms, not MS’ terms.
Interested to hear how that might look for you? Comment 🧡 below or DM me and we’ll chat!
...

14 1
Progress is absolutely not linear.

But, it’s still progress nonetheless.

I see you if you’re in a “dip” or feel like you’re going “backwards”

You’re really not, you’re right where you should be.

Keep going!!
🧡❤️🧡

Progress is absolutely not linear.

But, it’s still progress nonetheless.

I see you if you’re in a “dip” or feel like you’re going “backwards”

You’re really not, you’re right where you should be.

Keep going!!
🧡❤️🧡
...

22 1
Lol, all this got me was an MS diagnosis. 

This was me basically my whole life up until a few years ago.

My clients have all talked about situations like this too.

It’s no wonder why a lot of us have an autoimmune disease now. 

Please, speak your truth. Your body will thank you.

If we haven’t met yet, Hi! 👋🏼👋🏼 I’m Alissa.
I’m a Holistic Practitioner & Therapist specializing in MS.

I use all the tools I’ve comprised over my 10+ year career (and 14+ years with MS) to help my clients with MS decrease their symptoms, improve their overall health and get back to living life on their terms, not MS’ terms.

Interested to hear how that might look for you? Comment 🧡 below or DM me and we’ll chat!

Lol, all this got me was an MS diagnosis.

This was me basically my whole life up until a few years ago.

My clients have all talked about situations like this too.

It’s no wonder why a lot of us have an autoimmune disease now.

Please, speak your truth. Your body will thank you.

If we haven’t met yet, Hi! 👋🏼👋🏼 I’m Alissa.
I’m a Holistic Practitioner & Therapist specializing in MS.

I use all the tools I’ve comprised over my 10+ year career (and 14+ years with MS) to help my clients with MS decrease their symptoms, improve their overall health and get back to living life on their terms, not MS’ terms.

Interested to hear how that might look for you? Comment 🧡 below or DM me and we’ll chat!
...

90 4
This has been a TOUGH week friends.

Don’t lose yourself.

What else would you add to this list?
What helps you when life is super hard?

❤️❤️

This has been a TOUGH week friends.

Don’t lose yourself.

What else would you add to this list?
What helps you when life is super hard?

❤️❤️
...

20 2
I’ve been actively working on my nervous system for the past year or two.

That hasn’t meant that all my anxiety or depression magically vanished.

It just means that when I do find myself feeling like an anxious mess or a depressed puddle, I know how to attend to and care for myself.

Not in the goal of “fixing” per se, more honoring and accepting.

This is one of the ways I help my clients improve their MS symptoms, but attending to their nervous systems and improving their stress response and resilience.

I have so many ways to work with me.. from 1:1 support to my free community.. comment below “interested” and we’ll chat about what would be right for you!

I’ve been actively working on my nervous system for the past year or two.

That hasn’t meant that all my anxiety or depression magically vanished.

It just means that when I do find myself feeling like an anxious mess or a depressed puddle, I know how to attend to and care for myself.

Not in the goal of “fixing” per se, more honoring and accepting.

This is one of the ways I help my clients improve their MS symptoms, but attending to their nervous systems and improving their stress response and resilience.

I have so many ways to work with me.. from 1:1 support to my free community.. comment below “interested” and we’ll chat about what would be right for you!
...

18 2

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