I haven’t written much over the past few days. Things have been pretty hectic, traveling all over Atlantic Canada for medical appointments. Traveling can be the worst, especially when you’re a neurotic worry wart such as myself. Also, I’m trying to come to grips with some things I’ve learned about myself. As I mentioned in a previous post, I recently went for a psychological assessment. I’ve received two main diagnoses: Conversion Disorder (Functional Neurological Symptom Disorder) and Somatic Symptom Disorder. I’m struggling with understanding what all this means.
So Functional Neurological Symptom Disorder (FNSD) is not a new diagnosis for me. It does fall in the spectrum of Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures (PNES) although the acronym is not as much fun as saying Pee-Nes (get it, it sounds like penis.) Other terms like Conversion Disorder, Dissociative Disorder and Pseudo-seizures are used interchangeably by medical professionals, but they all mean the same thing. Although I have a “normal” brain (what is “normal” anyway?), there is a problem with how my nervous system functions (https://fndhope.org/fnd-guide/). Generally, my brain has some communication problems. Ironic, really, since I consider myself to be a very good communicator. It results in involuntary face contortions, tremors, seizure-like episodes (I say seizure-like because I don’t pass out.) It presents differently in different people. Some people may fall on the floor and have an all-out seizure that looks epileptic in nature, but they are not, in fact, epileptics.
Somatic Symptom Disorder is where a person focuses on physical symptoms and has high anxiety about health concerns. Well, yes, I do have some anxiety about my physical symptoms. Who wouldn’t? Somatic Symptom Disorder seems to be just a nice way of saying I’m a hypochondriac. I’m not going to dispute that. I do worry about my health excessively- the seriousness of symptoms, and I probably spend too much time worrying about it- as maybe I am in this post.
But the main thing for me is the FNSD. I unconsciously (this is in the report; I feel the need to add this because if it’s unconscious, how would I even know that I have it?) have striated muscles and tension when speaking about topics that cause me distress. I have unconscious anxiety (again, in the report) which leads to fuzzy thinking or cognitive dysfunction. I also have an inability to deal with conflict. So yes, I’m fucked up.
The most surprising thing I discovered is that apparently I am unable to express feelings. I have a basic mistrust of people. Do I? I didn’t even notice. I’ve often been told I am too trusting. But when I really think about it, I’ve always valued logic and reason over feelings. I do try to detach my feelings when making decisions. And because I do hate conflict so much, I don’t share how I feel. At least not with the people I’m in conflict with. I’ll rant about them later, behind their backs. You know, like a back-stabbing bitch. Not on purpose though. I’m not a back-stabbing bitch on purpose, I’m just a coward.
Funny thing about feelings though… I have them, I think we all do. But I can’t accurately identify my feelings. I know, it sounds weird. I keep thinking about my assessment and multiple times the psychologist asked me, “And how do you feel about that?” and each time, my response was, “not good.” He pressed me to be more specific. Did I feel angry? Sad? Whatever. And some of the time, I gave the answer I thought I should give; I thought, well, I should feel angry about that, so I’ll just say angry. But how did I really feel? I don’t know. “Not good.” I don’t know if it’s angry, sad, irate, hopeless. As I write this and I try to even think of feelings to write down, I can’t even think of very many feelings. I just know that I want to feel happy. Maybe that’s why I’m so drawn to comedy- laughing feels good and it pushes down the pain.
Next step for me is to go for some psychotherapy. I guess I need to learn about feelings, how to feel and how to express feelings in healthy ways. If I can do that, maybe I won’t spaz out anymore.
I invite you to join me on my adventure of learning about feelings. Boy, doesn’t that feel like a good topic for a children’s book. Maybe I can write a book for children after this. It will feature me represented by a chihuahua and it will be all about the different feelings people should have and how if you don’t express them, you’ll be like
Shaky the Chihuahua. Shaky will be joined by Bellowing Bear who yells all the time because he’s angry. Bellowing Bear gives Shaky the shakes all over. All the different feelings can be represented by different animals. Any children’s book editors out there? You FEELING this? Contact me. I’ll be ready to write it by March 2018. I’m supposed to have gotten all of my feeling training by then.
Bear with me. I’m trying…
Much love (that’s a feeling!)
Alexandra. “7 Things that make Chihuahuas an Amazing Breed.” Animals.com. <https://animalso.com/breeds/chihuahua/> November 25, 2017.
Atlantic Canada Map from Google Maps.