Tag Archives: Misconceptions

Functional Neurological Symptom Disorder (Conversion Disorder)

I can’t remember when I started to have problems with my memory, pain in my muscles and joints, vision changes and muscle weakness. I’ve had these issues for so long that I just got used to them.

When my hands first started to tremor I didn’t think much of it. It only happened when I buttoned a shirt or counted money. When I began having trouble keeping food on my spoon or fork and spilling whatever I was drinking because my hands were shaking I knew something was going on.

I went to my GP who sent me to a Neurologist. My GP had mentioned Parkinson’s and MS. I admit I was worried. The Neurologist diagnosed me with Essential Tremors. He had found other brain abnormalities that I found scary but he didn’t. Essential Tremors are hereditary and no one in my family has ever had them.

About a year went by when I started to stutter.

A person with Conversion Disorder (CD) or Functional Neurological Symptom Disorder (FND) experiences physical symptoms without an underlying physical cause. Symptoms are usually connected to emotional or psychological stress or trauma. The person has no control over the symptoms and are not deliberately producing them.

The typical signs and symptoms of FND are:

  • Deafness or hearing difficulties
  • Difficulty concentrating *
  • Difficulty swallowing *
  • Fatigue *
  • Impaired movement *
  • Lack of responsiveness *
  • Loss of balance *
  • Loss of senses
  • Numbness *
  • Pain in muscles, skin, or joints *
  • Paralysis
  • Seizures
  • Speech problems *
  • Tremors *
  • Vision Problems *
  • Weakness *
  • Twitches

Symptoms may come and go or they may persist. They also vary in severity and location. In some people they can last for years and make everyday life difficult. In other people the symptoms are short term.

The exact cause is still not known. Researches used to believe FND happened mostly to low income women with little to no education. This has been proved to be false.

The other false belief is that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the way to cure FND but CBT has only a 13% success rate.

When my stuttering got to the point I couldn’t talk my Psychiatrist sent me to a Doctor who specialized in Movement Disorders. He was more than happy to tell me that the reason I was stuttering and my hands had tremors and I was losing my balance was that I had Conversion Disorder.

I knew nothing about it at the time and I was shocked. All I could think was “My brain is doing this?” “If my brain is doing this why can’t I make it stop?”. In fact the harder I tried to control the stuttering the worse it would get. The more frustrated and embarrassed I became the worse everything would get. I didn’t understand that yes it’s my brain but I still have no control over it.

I understand it now but many other people don’t. My family certainly doesn’t. Of course I am one of the lucky ones who most likely will not get better because I have an underlying mental illness, addiction, and traumas.

There’s also another issue. I do have actual physical problems. When my GP or any Doctor checks my reflexes, I don’t have any. They keep boppin’ my knees and nothing happens. I keep telling them they are wasting their time but some are determined. Same thing with my blood pressure. Some nurses will get 3 different machines even when I tell them I have LOW blood pressure. They just won’t accept what they’re seeing. Which kind of worries me but no one else. I’ve stopped asking questions.

Again, I do what I can depending on the day.

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MY BLOOD IS ONE HUNDRED PROOF

I don’t talk as much about Alcoholism as I do Mental Health. I should considering I spent 20 out of my 43 years drunk or drinking. I hurt my family, friends, and even strangers. I’ve been arrested several times for disorderly conduct and destruction of property. I was also brought in for a DUI. I was on probation for 2 years for one incident and court ordered to undergo alcohol counseling for one year.

When that year was up guess what I did? If you guessed that the first Saturday night I got dressed up and went to the bar you would be correct. I was also forced to attend AA on a few occasions over 20 years and went voluntarily also. Personally I would rather have Bamboo Shoots driven under my fingernails than go to another AA meeting. That’s just my experience. I chose my own path. I discovered the reason behind my drinking. It still took a few slip ups before I could maintain years without drinking.

There is still a misconception about women who drink. Too many people envision female alcoholics as wine drinkers, soccer moms secretly hiding their alcohol consumption, or the complete opposite, prostitutes, poverty stricken, or homeless.

They never see someone like me. A quiet young girl from a somewhat middle class family. I always said “please” and “thank you”. I called adults “Mr.”, “Ms.”, or “Mrs.” no matter what. I was a people pleaser. When I say I was quiet I’m understating it. I hid behind my long hair in school. I always tried to sit in the back of class so I wouldn’t be noticed. I looked at the ground while walking trying to never make eye contact. How no one noticed something wasn’t right I don’t know.

I drank daily for about 12 years and then it was binge drinking whenever I could. What I drank was massive amounts of alcohol that even the most hardcore alcoholics were surprised at. I was a big girl, but my brain didn’t process alcohol like other people. It acted as a stimulant and wasn’t a depressant until much later. I could start at 5 p.m. and still be drinking at 5 a.m. I’m not saying this in a proud way but as a fact and because of what I didn’t know. I was most likely manic at these times.

I drank because I new I was different. I had a hard time in social situations. I always felt like I was on the other side of a piece of glass, watching everyone laugh and be “normal” while I wondered how they did it. I never belonged. I felt like I wasn’t meant to be here on this planet. It’s exhausting to feel that way from the age of 12. You start to look for anything to make the pain and guilt go away. Anything to feel “normal”. The problem is you don’t feel normal without it. But then you start to act worse than before with it.

I was drinking a case of Black Label and a pint of Firewater or Ginger Flavored Brandy a day. My hands would start to shake around 3 p.m. in the afternoon. Most have heard this already. I was still underage but went to a dive bar that served me anyway because I went with regulars. The Bartender would have a mug of beer waiting with a straw in it pushed as close to the edge as possible so I could just bend my head and sip. She knew I wouldn’t be able to hold a glass or a bottle until after my first couple of drinks.

When I went to the theater to see Leaving Las Vegas and watched Nicolas Cage try to sign his name but couldn’t without drinking first, I sobbed into my shirt. That movie hit me so hard I don’t think I can watch it again. And it’s one of my favorite films. But I sometimes fantasize about doing the same. When everything around you is getting worse and all you see is that 12 foot hole you’re stuck in it’s hard not to think that way.

I say I’m in Remission because there’s less pressure, guilt, and expectation. The reason most people fail in staying “sober” is because of a relapse. The feeling of letting loved one’s down, the shame and guilt, is overwhelming. Too many decide it isn’t worth it because they’re only going to “fail” again. I also do not like the concept of wiping out years of “sobriety” because a person slipped once. If it was a one time slip where is it written that a person has to start all over again? That the previous 18 years of abstaining counts for nothing? I can understand if it’s an ongoing issue. That’s different. But we are human and we make mistakes. Punishing a person at their weakest moment makes no sense to me. I chose to take the shame and guilt out of the equation. I know many do not agree but how do you expect someone to pick themselves back up when every time they fall they’re humiliated for it.

I don’t know which get a worse reaction, when people find out I am Bipolar or an Alcoholic. I do know I am no longer invited to anything. That could be both. I also know that I’ve had an alarming amount of friends and family tell me I’m not an Alcoholic. Which I find odd. I don’t say anything. They weren’t there and a lot was hidden from them. I just don’t like it when someone says “You’re not really an alcoholic, you can have one drink”. I want to tell them that they really don’t want me to. It would be like releasing the Incredible Hulk. Other times I want to prove a point and show them. I’m glad I am still able to think rationally most times. THIS IS A PICTURE OF ME AFTER ABOUT 9 BEERS AND A FEW SHOTS I WAS ALSO 250 POUNDS AT THE TIME AND BLOND. DON’T WORRY ABOUT THE OTHER PERSON HE’S VERY NICE. 100_0463-4

 

 

 

 


Dating Someone With Bipolar Disorder

I recently read an article titled “What It’s Like To Date Someone Who Is Bipolar”. It was from Rebel Circus. They had other Mental Health articles that I did not read after reading this one. If the World actually believes half of this crap it’s no wonder I choose to be single. I thought the article was damaging, offensive, and feeds into the stigma of Bipolar Disorder. Here are some of their key points.

  • Bipolar people are erratic.
  • It takes a lot of time and energy for a Bipolar person to keep their conditions under control.
  • When manic their inability to sleep can disrupt your life. You may wake up in the middle of the night and wonder where they are.
  • Their ups and downs will encourage compassion in you and make you want to be a better person. (So glad I could help)
  • We need to be kept occupied and interested because we get bored easily.
  • Bipolar people easily lose their sense of judgment.
  • It’s essential for them to have a significant other that can keep them in line. (WTF)

I don’t know about anyone else but I find all of this to be condescending, ignorant, and stigma inducing.

I agree that I can be erratic at times. I don’t think I need anyone to “keep me in line”. As far as I know I do not sleepwalk or take off in the middle of the night like a vampire. I don’t need anyone to “keep me occupied”. If you have to constantly worry about keeping your Bipolar significant other occupied and interested so they stay with you, there might be other issues in the relationship. No one in my life has become a “better person or more compassionate” because of my Bipolar Disorder. Some of them became the opposite.

I have never been in a “real” relationship. I choose to be single at this point because I am not stable and have physical health problems. I still have not found a way to meet someone that doesn’t involve a bar or online. My anxiety and fear of some men make it harder. These are issues I have to work on. Until I’m physically healthy I can’t.

It’s been almost 5 years since I was diagnosed. My situation is getting worse not better. A total of 30 years dealing with this has taken it’s toll. Never having the answers you want or need is frustrating. Being alone is hard. But if I’m not at my healthiest mentally or physically it isn’t fair to either person. Sometimes I’m afraid I will never be healthy enough to try for a healthy relationship. I wonder if I will always feel unworthy of one. These are things I have to figure out before moving forward.

This article really doesn’t help anyone. Hopefully not too many people without real knowledge of Bipolar Disorder will read it and take it seriously. It’s discouraging and sad.

I’m going to focus on getting as healthy as I can and do what’s right for me. I have to learn to ignore the negative press, comments, and people who are not good for me. I also have to try to let some things go. It’s like banging my head against a wall for years. The same arguments over and over. If you can’t handle me or don’t like me the way I am, that’s your issue. I’m doing the best I can right now. That will have to be enough.

If you see me wandering around in the middle of the night please leave me alone. I like the night. You meet some of the more fascinating people in the dark. They don’t try to keep me in line.


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