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 *
- Speech problems *
- Tremors *
- Vision Problems *
- Weakness *
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.