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Meeting Another Conversion Disorder Survivor

Don Shetterly July 1991 Paralysis

Don Shetterly, July 1991 Partial Paralysis at the time of this picture from a Conversion Disorder

Getting to meet another person who has experienced a conversion disorder is almost overwhelming.  It has been almost 21 years since I suffered through conversion in my life and it almost took me out of this world.  It has taken 21 years for me to finally meet another survivor face to face.  Most likely it is more prevalent in the world then this, but far too many don’t realize they are going through a conversion disorder and the rest that do, have no idea where to turn for help or what to do in treating this condition.

The medical establishment often fails to understand this condition fully or they throw their hands up in desperation of how to treat a patient who is going through it.  It is not uncommon for the patients to be in the dark as to what a conversion disorder is all about.  Even if the person is aware and the medical establishment has shared with them that they have conversion disorder, the resources to heal it are minimal at best.  Any research into this disorder is hidden if it exists.

Fortunately, if we understand that it is a somatoform disorder involving complete somatization of the body, then there is hope in healing this condition.  Through Unified Therapy with Dr. Paul Canali of Miami, I have healed my body and reclaimed the power I have within myself.  Instead of my body numbing out to the pain and trauma of my past, I now embrace it to help me further my healing and bring me close to uncovering my life’s purpose and understanding.  It took me many years to find my path of healing, among hospital stays, psychiatric counseling, depression, suicide, anxiety attacks, and intense body pain.  There were additional moments of freezing in my body through muscles stiffness, loss of my body through paralysis, rashes and a near death experience.  If you want to read more about my story, check out my book, Hope And Possibility Through Trauma by Don Shetterly.

The following paragraphs are my recorded thoughts as I meet another conversion disorder survivor for the first time and how I am learning to treat this condition through the help of Dr. Paul Canali.

No matter what you are going through, there is hope!   There is a way forward.  It may not seem like it at this moment and you may feel like you are sentenced to a life of struggle, but I can honestly say that there is hope and healing!


April 10, 2012

In anticipation of meeting this fellow survivor, I’ve gone through all kinds of body struggles in the past few days.  From just feeling the stress and fear to diarrhea the other day, it has been hitting my body.  I feel like everyone can just look at me and see the deer in the headlights stare coming from my face.  Struggling with pains that come and go in my knee and foot, force me to get frustrated with this journey.  Waking up this morning with a slight surface headache in the front of my head along with shoulder and neck pain, I want to cry out and say – enough!

I feel like a ball of nerves as I want to be there so badly for this person, but I find it to be a great struggle within my own body and mind.  The fears and the anxiety rage in me like a bull angry at the world.  Yet, I’m not clear on who I should be angry at or why I am so anxious and fearful.  I can feel the connection to all these events I went through, but really, after all this time, there is still this much charge in these events.  It is at this point that I want to throw my hands up in quiet desperation, hoping that maybe this is all a dream.  I know that isn’t reality, but some days I wish it was.

Being vulnerable is something I’ve been learning more about through the work of Dr. Brene Brown, yet it doesn’t make it any easier.  In fact, it would be easier for me if I would just maintain normal operating procedures and detach myself from all that is going on.  I know first hand though that detaching and numbing myself only leads to further burial of fears and memories and energy that is trying to surface.  How can I heal, that which I would bury within myself?

This morning, I decided I would not run from the pain or fear or anxiety I was feeling.  I went to a park and took a stroll around a tiny lake, listening to the birds and feeling the sunshine upon my head, face and body.  I talked to the angels and I shared my frustration with this day.  I began to cry as I expressed some of the pain I was experiencing.  The tears had aged for many years.  After finishing my 1 mile stroll around this lake, I came back and spent time soaking in a hot tub and a cold water pool, alternating the hot and cold.  My tension in my neck and shoulders has lessened and my anxiety is calmed down considerably.

It will be a journey for not only this person coming for treatment, but for my life as well.  It is a life changing journey that I know is my reason for coming to this world.  I just hope I am strong enough for this part of my journey, and that I don’t get discouraged and quit.  I am asking the universe and the angels for all the strength that I need to go through this and I am attempting to stay open to receive it.


April 17, 2012

Wow, I learned so much in the week with the conversion disorder survivor.  You didn’t have to inform my body of what was going on, because it instinctively picked up on what was happening.  My body recognized so much without any words needing to be said.  It was in many ways as if I strongly felt what was happening in this person’s body.

More importantly though, I found that I could go into my own vulnerability and be there for someone else in a powerful way.  Instead of being overcome by emotion which is what I thought would happen, I used that emotion and vulnerability to be there in a deep way for this person.  It was transforming and connecting and so beautiful of a moment.

On top of that, I learned so much about my own self and my own healing.  For years, I have gone through this work and experienced the moments of release and trembling in my body.  Yet, it was not until I experienced some moments with this survivor that I truly understood what was happening in my body.  It was like for the first time in years and in my life, I finally got it.  I understood this process at a core and innate level of my physical body.  That understanding helped transform me when I was on the table.

I learned that I could experience the tears of sadness for another person, but not get taken under by the emotion.  I could be there in the experience, but also learning and observing all that was going on.  There is so much I am taking away from this week and some of it is still processing and unfolding in my mind.  The rest is parts that I choose not to share in a public way.  All too often, I short change myself and feel like I don’t know as much as I do.  However, last week clearly showed me in some dramatic ways, that I need to embrace myself rather than running from myself.

The universe brought a tremendous healing and growth moment to me last week and I will be forever grateful for this connection.  While the survivor was looking for hope, I walked away with a greater knowledge and awareness in my own life.  When we open up to help others, it is then that we find our self.



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3 Responses to "Meeting Another Conversion Disorder Survivor"

  1. Shawn says:

    You being there for my daughter and myself in April of 2012 is something I will never be able to repay or thank you for enough. I had no idea it put you through so much but your selfless act was amazing. You took a week out of your busy life to help my daughter and Dr. Canali with no payment or want for anything in return. I am still learning everyday and so is my daughter. I thank God I saw you on the Dr. Drew show and you were willing to talk to a complete stranger and offer your story and help. If it weren’t for you we would still have no clue what was happening with her. She still has many struggles and stresses and it is very hard to find any help with where we are in Michigan. But just knowing what it is helps us deal with the symptoms when they come. Keep the seminars going!!! I just listened to the one you posted on youtube. I know it must have been difficult for you but everyday you seem to get stronger and stronger. You are an inspiration to me and my daughter and I hope you will never forget that. There is a purpose for you and I believe you have found it in helping others. 🙂

    1. adminsomawp says:

      Thank you Shawn. You all impacted my life and my further healing in some very big ways. I made connections within my own body as a result that had never been there before. I’m beyond grateful that we had the opportunity to meet. I wish it could have been under some other circumstances, but thank you so much for your comments. I will keep working on the seminars and keep pushing forward. The more I read about people struggling through this, the more I am empowered to do all I can to help.

  2. Hi Don,

    I hope you’re doing well regarding Converstion Disorder. I believe that I have that and I have a friend that you and I have in common who is helping me deal with it. If you have a moment, please contact me so that we can talk and share ideas. Email me and I’ll provide you with my cellphone.

    Thank you,

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