handling mentally challenging tasks

hmnr asg

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Hi everyone,
So there is a lot of discussion on the forum about handling physically demanding tasks, e.g., using a heart rate monitor to ensure one's heart rate is not going above some baseline and breaking the tasks into smaller chunks and resting in between.

What I like to ask the members is whether or not we have any tricks on handling cognitively challenging tasks? I am a former computer science guy and sometimes I try to write some code for old times' snakes and as soon as I'm trying to tackle an even slightly challenging problem I feel like my brain is going into crash mode and I start to get light headed and dizzy and it's like my brain is completely shutting down. After such episodes I end up crashing even worse than when I exert myself physically.

So if you have collected any tips or tricks please let me know !
@Hip @debored13
 

Hip

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Perhaps this might be what you are looking for:

Very noticeable improvements in brain fog using Dr Greg Russell-Jones's transdermal B12 oils (which provide a similar dose to B12 injections)

I also have a professional background in computer programming, and found these B12 transdermal oils noticeably improved my ability to write code, which is something I am normally not really able to do.

I should add that I have tried sublingual B12 in various forms, and also B12 hydroxocobalamin injections, but did not notice much. It was only when I tried the very high doses you get from this B12 methylcobalamin + adenosylcobalamin oil that I observed these cognitive benefits.
 
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Hip

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The other thing that works quite well for me is piracetam (though not as good as B12 oils), which can be bought as a supplement (though is also sold as a drug in some countries).

However, I find piracetam worsens my ME/CFS emotional flatness symptom a little bit, so for that reason I don't take it that often. If I use a low dose of 800 mg daily, though, the emotional side effect is quite minor.
 

hmnr asg

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Thanks @Hip for the recommendation,
I am going to order the B12 oil and order it from the website.
I tried kratom and it gave me energy but i found the energy to be quite useless for mental tasks. I just get talkative and want to clean my apartment but cant concentrate at all.

Do you break a coding tasks into smaller chunks also?
I find the hardest thing is to think about algorithm stuff. I can write stupid code without crashing but I was just reviewing the depth first search algorithm and it crashed me (a simple idea from an undergrad textbook, but with enough complexity to be more challenging than simply hacking code together to do basic stuff).

H
 
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I also have a professional background in computer programming, and found these B12 transdermal oils noticeably improved my ability to write code, which is something I am normally not really able to do.
So you are actually able to write some code vs. not at all?
I’m still able to write some trivial things (but with great discomfort and exhaustion), but if it’s something new or complicated my brain just shuts down..
 
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I find the hardest thing is to think about algorithm stuff. I can write stupid code without crashing but I was just reviewing the depth first search algorithm and it crashed me (a simple idea from an undergrad textbook, but with enough complexity to be more challenging than simply hacking code together to do basic stuff).
This is exactly me :( It’s so frustrating.
 
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I would be ok if I was in a wheelchair and housebound for the rest of my life if I could get my freakin brain back. Computer science topics that were trivial for me when i was 20 are so overwhelming now :( god dammit.
I’m saying exactly this all the time! Only if I could get my brain back. I was also actively in sports and motorbikes, but I could live without that and I’m willing to trade both legs for the brain.
 

Hip

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I find the hardest thing is to think about algorithm stuff. I can write stupid code without crashing but I was just reviewing the depth first search algorithm and it crashed me (a simple idea from an undergrad textbook, but with enough complexity to be more challenging than simply hacking code together to do basic stuff).
I am usually not able to create something complex like a well-designed functional algorithm module. My brain is still too woolly for that, even with the B12. Most of the time I tend to find bits of pre-written code (javascript, html, CSS, PHP) online, and then adapt that slightly for my purposes.

I've experienced two near full remissions from ME/CFS brain fog, in which all my programming skills returned, and it was a joy to write algorithms from scratch. Both case were due to some pharmaceutical drugs I was trying, but these remissions did not sustain themselves longer than a few weeks (which was mysterious).


It's interesting that you actually get PEM from these mental tasks. I never get PEM from any form of relaxed logical or programming task I perform at the computer. I am often too brain fogged to perform such programming tasks properly, but they do not cause PEM.

Whereas 2 or 3 hours of light social activity with friends (eg, watching TV in a friend's living room) leaves me with some PEM the next day. I think it is the mental excitement and brain arousal of social activity that exhausts my brain. Whereas when I am (trying to) program on the computer, I am very relaxed, almost in a meditative state.



So you are actually able to write some code vs. not at all?
I’m still able to write some trivial things (but with great discomfort and exhaustion), but if it’s something new or complicated my brain just shuts down..
The B12 oils made the difference between being to write some code consistently every day, versus usually not being able to write code at all, except a bit on the good days.

But at the moment, my ME/CFS is at the top end of moderate, nudging into mild (on ME/CFS scale of: very severe, severe, moderate, mild, remission).

Some years ago I was nudging into severe, and in those days I would struggle to do the simplest online things, like buying some vitamins from a website.


I know what you mean about the brain shutting down when it gets complicated. If the programming is plain sailing, then I am OK, but if I hit something difficult, I become aware of how mentally tired and woolly-brained I really am, and that's when I usually leave the work for another day.
 
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I've experienced two near full remissions from ME/CFS brain fog, in which all my programming skills returned, and it was a joy to write algorithms from scratch. Both case were due to some pharmaceutical drugs I was trying, but these remissions did not sustain themselves longer than a few weeks (which was mysterious).
This gives me some hope it’s at least theoretically possible to get my brain back some day. I’m quite pessimistic in nature and most of the time I tend to see this state as some form of permanent brain damage.
 

hmnr asg

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I had been improving up to two years ago to the point that I thought, hek, let me study and review stuff and get a proper job. So i started hitting the books and doing programming exercises and I had some interviews lined up with a few top companies in Silicon Valley (i live in California).

I went to the local library and dusted off the old books and started hammering away. In the beginning I was like: "dang i am doing this!!" Then, being the idiot that I am i ramped up my study hours until I was around 8 hours a day (which is still nothing compared to my pre-CFS days).

Well, I crashed BIG after a month of this. I have since gone from mild to pretty close to severe. I am having a hard time taking showers, cooking for myself and even shaving and I now spend all day in bed. It has been exactly a year and it seems i am not going back to my previous baseline.

printf("FML") //:bang-head:
 

Wishful

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No, it doesn't seem to be permanent brain damage. In the early years, I had several complete--but temporary--remissions. ME can switch state from bad symptoms to complete remission over the space of minutes. We just need to figure out how to switch states. Well, and how to retain the healthy state.
 

taniaaust1

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I had been improving up to two years ago to the point that I thought, hek, let me study and review stuff and get a proper job. So i started hitting the books and doing programming exercises and I had some interviews lined up with a few top companies in Silicon Valley (i live in California).

I went to the local library and dusted off the old books and started hammering away. In the beginning I was like: "dang i am doing this!!" Then, being the idiot that I am i ramped up my study hours until I was around 8 hours a day (which is still nothing compared to my pre-CFS days).

Well, I crashed BIG after a month of this. I have since gone from mild to pretty close to severe. I am having a hard time taking showers, cooking for myself and even shaving and I now spend all day in bed. It has been exactly a year and it seems i am not going back to my previous baseline.

printf("FML") //:bang-head:

Too much thinking can crash me like that too. Like i have to pace out physical things, I also need to pace out "thinking" things
 
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taniaaust1

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Hi everyone,
So there is a lot of discussion on the forum about handling physically demanding tasks, e.g., using a heart rate monitor to ensure one's heart rate is not going above some baseline and breaking the tasks into smaller chunks and resting in between.

So if you have collected any tips or tricks please let me know !
Yes, I try to time myself when doing certain mental tasks.. eg I can talk on a phone for only so long without it having impact on me the next day due to how hard I need to think. Learn how long you can do certain mental tasks for without issues and then set your clock when doing those things and make sure you do not spend to long doing them.

eg currently if I'm on a phone for 30mins.. if I don't want to risk a crash I need to get off of it at that point and I can't make calls like that every day. If I do not time it, I will often over do and regret it. Even the time being put on hold on a phone affects me as my brain then has to hold in mind what I'm going to say when it's answered (I often will forget that I'm holding notes for the call in my hand so know I cant just rely on those)

Also get to know when something is becoming too much "brain strain".
 
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hmnr asg

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hi there,
So i tried the suggestion made by @Hip and bought this uber expensive B12 oil (plus shipping it ended up being 75$, a hefty price tag). I also started taking the co-factors as suggested by @Hip in this thread and also posted here in more detail:
https://forums.phoenixrising.me/thr...ovide-a-similar-dose-to-b12-injections.75317/

and a couple of years before that here:
https://forums.phoenixrising.me/threads/transdermal-b12-oils.33172/

It is definitely giving me a boost! I took it on the weekend and I started having this weird feeling like I was going to have a heart attack. It was similar to having taken a nitroglycerin pill (I used to have them for my angina). I panicked and washed it off my skin after 30 minutes. But by the end of the day my brain fog had lifted almost 70%! I ended up staying up to 2AM and programming and then crashing myself the next day :D

I will be more careful the next time! Also I will update this thread with my experiments with studying and taking this B12 oil. I just hope I dont build a tolerance to it! It is literally the only thing I have tried in the 10 years that I have had CFS that helps with my brain fog!

Thanks @Hip !
 

Hip

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It is definitely giving me a boost! I took it on the weekend and I started having this weird feeling like I was going to have a heart attack.
If that feeling you talk about is one of being overstimulated and too revved up mentally, I found taking 500 mg of niacinamide (also called nicotinamide, but not the same as niacin) at the same time as the B12 oil helped prevent that.

Also, you might consider taking some potassium with the B12 oil, as such high doses of B12 can cause temporary low potassium, and such hypokalemia can lead to cardiac arrhythmias, and even sudden cardiac death in extreme cases.

Freddd talks about hypokalemia from B12 here.

I take 400 mg of potassium after applying B12 oil. I use potassium chloride powder, cheap to buy on eBay, which contains 52% potassium by weight.

You also get about 400 mg of potassium in a banana.