How I Fought a Bear. Jan. 2021
Updated: Jan 23
How I Fought a Bear - When a spell tried to keep me from therapy, I won!
I had my weekly session with my psychologist on Friday. I had been writing a post on my newsletter about my FND journey that morning about a particularly bad seizure day and was already a bit worked up. I normally love going to the psychologist because I might learn something that can help me in my life.
As I walked toward the building, I felt the familiar sense of tingly brain and the edges of reality growing fuzzy that tells me a spell is coming fast. The week before, I’d had a small spell while exiting the building whereas I COULD NOT make myself get in the elevator. I’m not afraid of elevators. I’ve been in that one lots of times. I just stood there starting at the open doors and froze. I told myself I was just thinking of the elevator.
When faced with the harmless open doors, I had to get a “running start” and walk in sideways to go in. (why? Why? This makes no sense.) I said a prayer on the ride up and got out with a small sense of accomplishment. (wow, I did something I’ve done literally hundreds of times before.)
As I walked down the hall to Docs office, the fuzzy edges and tingling brain grew worse. I tried not to panic, but felt dissociation (FND’s newest torture device) coming on. I sort of zig zagged down the hall and with a deep breath, I pushed through the door.
I could not focus on B. the receptionist’s welcoming smile. My eyes wanted to drift uselessly around the waiting room, my mind wanted to go on holiday and my body wanted to start jerking. Thank God B. knows about my condition and took it in stride, telling me to have a seat and everything would be ok.
I sat there, staring at the ceiling, begging God and my body not to seize in the waiting room. This was bad enough, a seizure in front of B and the others would be horrible. If I could just wait til I got to the Dr. C’s office, I could do it there on the couch in privacy.
I didn’t want to wait, I didn’t want to seize or spell or any of it at all. I did my breathing exercises and got well enough to try to “walk it off.” I told B. I would be right outside in the hall and she anxiously let me go. I walked slowly up and down the hall, making my steps as deliberate and precise as possible (although I had to run my hand along the wall to keep upright). After several trips up and down, I started complex stepping on the tiles. “Two steps forward, one to the right,” that sort of thing. Then I started walking backwards up and down the hall, my hand still on the wall. Some guy stopped to ask me for directions, and I thought, “How lost are you that you’d ask some crazy woman walking backwards for directions?” At least he made me chuckle.
I went back into the office for my session and collapsed on Dr. C’s couch trying not to cry. I told him about what happened and he was very supportive and congratulatory. (yeah, you managed to walk into a building! So proud. Gag me.) As you may imagine, we spent most of my session discussing the fact that I actually should be proud of the accomplishment. Sure, on a normal day, I can easily walk into that office with a smile. Today wasn’t normal, and facing what I overcame WAS a win.
I’m trying to think of it like this. Imagine taking your daily walk down a lovely wooded path. Most days the walk is beautiful and easy. Then a bear suddenly jumps out at you. You have to fight the bear, defeat the bear, then walk home. If you had to fight off a bear you’d be so proud. Just because every other day, that walk through the woods was easy, does not take away the fact you fought the bear and won. (I just made this up and I love it. My nick name is Bear and I’m literally fighting my own body and mind so it’s super on point.)
So Friday I fought the bear and made it to my appointment, made it through my appointment and learned some valuable things in the session. One thing made me sad though. He wants me to join a group session, too, and groups are my highest level anxiety inducer. It’s for my borderline personality disorder, not for my FND. I asked if there were any support groups for FND (conversion disorder in Psychology speak). He looked at me earnestly and gently said, “You do realize how rare your disorder is, right?”
Yes, I’m aware.
But I’m not alone. I have all of you reading this. When I started this little project last week, I expected maybe 5 people would follow it in the next few months. I had that many sign up in the first few minutes. I cried. I won’t lie. To think that anyone outside my family, let alone a bunch of anyone’s, cared enough to read about my struggles was truly humbling. As I’ve been writing the posts that come to you automatically on a set schedule, I’ve been facing a lot of demons and working through some trauma. Dr. C says trauma isn’t only from an event or a person or something that happened to you as a child. I have complex trauma, from some of the above, but also from the spells and seizures and the bucket loads of terror I’ve been through over this FND stuff the last 15 years.
It wasn’t until this session, the session I had to fight a bear to get to, that I finally realized that my trauma is real. My childhood was pretty good, my life in general has been pretty good. My current life, beyond the obvious challenges, is amazing. I have a loving family, I live on a beautiful farm, I have plenty of food to eat and resources to help me.
How can I say I’ve been traumatized? That has been the root of the last few sessions, getting me to admit that I have demons to face. I can’t fight those demons until I admit their real. It only took a trip on an elevator and not flopping around on the waiting room couch to get me to this mind shifting epiphany.
Watch out, because I’m ready for battle, bear.
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