So often when a doctor does not know what to do in a situation, they seem to be quick to give an appearance of making statements that really do not advance the cause of healing. Please, understand that I’m not trying to bash doctors with the words I write, but hopefully giving a kick to the seat of understanding.
While doctors may be exasperated at trying to find a cause of a patient’s illness, telling someone that it is all in their head is about as insensitive as you can get. As a patient, when you are dealing with all kinds of symptoms that frighten the daylights out of you, the last thing you want to be told is they are all in your head or you are making them up.
I know first hand what it means to be told that conversion disorder is all in your head. Even during an ambulance ride to the hospital, the emergency staff left me on a gurney in the hallway of the emergency room for an hour because they had no idea what to do. By the time, they finally came around and talked to me, my body was so exhausted that the symptoms I had been rushed there for, had already dissipated. So, once again, they just declared that it was all in my head and I was making it up. At the time, I wished I was just making it up and could make all of this go away.
While many conversion disorder patients do not want to be told that this is the diagnosis of their situation, the medical community should do all it can to educate, research, and understand how to best approach this situation. At the same time, the conversion disorder patient has to accept the diagnosis and make the connection in their body, so they can begin to heal. If that doesn’t sound more difficult then solving world peace, let me tell you that my ordeal took me all the way to my body checking out from this world before I began to listen.
Conversion disorder is a neurological condition and often it is precipitated by trauma in a person at some point in their life. The trauma may come in many forms and it may happen so early in the person’s life, that they have pushed it from their own consciousness. If you’re saying, nothing happened to me, well that is exactly what I was saying while in the hospital. However, as the days wore on, and my body shut down a little more each day, something happened deep within me. My body and my mind started to communicate enough to understand that I had been through more than I wanted to let on to the world. Yes, it was horrible and I wanted to hide from it in every way possible.
Let’s start a new chapter in helping conversion disorder patients heal from this situation. Instead of telling them that it is all in their head, why don’t we help them piece together the events of their life. Medical doctors may not be well trained for this, but psychiatrists and counselors are adept at helping people make the necessary connections. In fact, while we are at it, let’s involve trauma healing body workers that understand how the trauma is stored in the body and let them guide the individual into the body, rather than numb and escape from it.
I will not deny that the symptoms of a conversion disorder are often tied to something happening in the brain which the doctors can not test or see in a brain scan. However, it is not that there is something wrong with the patient and they need to be fixed. Instead, it is about the patient being able to connect the events that led up to this moment so they can begin to understand how they can affect change in their life.
To tell someone that it is all in their head or they are making it up, is cruel and unusual punishment in my opinion. To help the patient begin to find tools to discover what is going on in their body, now that is what I call healing. Let’s make this a connected effort between the medical world and the patient where the doctors seek out the necessary help and admit when they do not have the answers while the patients begin to listen to their body like I did.