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Such A Happy Person in Conversion Disorder

Don Is Such A Happy Person in Conversion DisorderLeading up to the days when I became paralyzed, I might have been going through hell inside of me, but no one knew it on the outside. To most of the world, I was a very happy person. In fact, I remember being called “smiley” because I was always smiling.

After getting out of the hospital from Conversion Disorder, I was talking to a friend of mine. When my friend found out that I had went through what I did, he was shocked. He said, “and you were the one that had it all together out of all of us”. Imagine how much I fooled everyone that everything was perfect and happy in my life, when I was living in hell.

I remember my mom being the same way. She could be so sick that she could barely stand up. Yet, working as a receptionist in businesses, no one would be able to tell she was sick. She put on the happy face.  It was automatic.  It was natural, just like it was with me.

As I went to The Bridgeway Psychiatric Hospital, I fought them trying to get me on medications. I do not like medications and when my doctor suggested I needed to because I was suffering from depression, I strongly resisted.  After several attempts to discuss this with me, he finally looked at me in desperation and said, “ok, we will try it your way but if it doesn’t work, will you try it my way”. I agreed to that. After all, I had been taught that any drugs for your mind would leave you out of it and they would mess you up.  They would allow someone to brainwash you.

After coming home from The Bridgeway Psychiatric Hospital, I was sitting in my living room that next morning. A neighbor was having a yard sale and I began to freak out. I had the curtains drawn and was hiding but there were all these people talking outside my apartment door. I was crying and trembling and barely able to breathe. I managed to call my doctor and he described that what I was having was an anxiety attack. This is when I started on medication.

A few weeks later after taking the medication, I started to feel something strange and unusual. I could not even describe it at the time. Yet, I told my psychiatrist that something was wrong with me. I was feeling something strange and I really wanted it to stop. It was uncomfortable.

My psychiatrist, Dr. Brad Diner, tried to explain to me that what I was feeling was “happiness”. I looked at him in shock because I didn’t even know what that was. At 26 years old, I think it is the first time I had ever felt that emotion. It was so strange to me. I could portray happiness to the world, but I could not feel it.

In Conversion Disorder, at least what I experienced, I was so numb and disconnected from my life, my feelings and my emotions. I was so disconnected from all that I had been through, yet deep down inside of me, I knew it existed.  I was not conscious of it, but I knew it existed deep within me. It was secrets and stories and experiences that were too frightening for me to even own.  They were so frightening that none of them existed in my world I was living.

It was far easier to disconnect and numb then to feel. In fact, I was so good at doing that, I didn’t even realize I was doing it. It took time for me to turn all those systems back on, but that meant living through hell as I found the way to initiate that process.

Conversion Disorder sucks! Not only do you often live through experiences that are so horrible you can barely put them together as a logical sequence in your mind, but then in order to heal from them, it takes courage to go up and knock each one of those experiences down to smithereens. There is so much power in those experiences and often far too little language and vocabulary to make sense of them. There are often so many secrets filled with shame that keeps them cemented in place.

The trick to recovering from Conversion Disorder is putting one foot in front of the other and taking on each and every fear that grows out of those experiences. It is possible to get your life back, but I know firsthand just how difficult that is. It is not impossible. It is a choice you have to make along with the support of those you can trust. It requires a courage that builds up from the gut level as you begin to take back your life.



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