What I Learned From My First — and Second — Bout With Conversion Disorder


Today I cried in an Il Fornaio. Technically, I cried in an Il Fornaio Café, which may be better or worse, but there it is.

I am, I hope, in the last half of my second round of Conversion Disorder. I am shaking constantly, I am exhausted and anxious all at once. I am crying without control, but everyone keeps reminding me I’ve been here before – doctors, my husband, my parents. And that means I have some insider knowledge (theoretically).

Here are the things I am trying to remind myself of from my first bout with conversion disorder:

1. I survived. I am still here. It was the worst experience of my life and something truly awful that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. But I am here. I made it through.

2. There are people in this world who care about me. So when I don’t have the strength or the desire to care about anything in this world, someone is caring about me.

3. My husband is a badass. I really wish he didn’t have to be, but he is. When I am at my worst, or spiraling towards it, he balances household chores, grocery shopping, helping me out of bed, helping me off the couch, making dinner and remembering which one of my meds I’m supposed to take at any given time.

4. I swear much more when I am exhausted. This is not necessarily a tool, but it’s worth remembering.

5. I may not find the way to make it disappear right away, but I can find ways to get through it. Florence + the Machine saved me during my first bout. Always find a Florence.

And now I’m significantly into episode two, I’d like to think I’ve learned a thing or two again, so here’s a little bit of my new knowledge:

1. It’s OK to be happy every once in a while. It doesn’t invalidate what you go through. Those little moments may be what get you through the day or make the fight feel worth it.

2. Find a stuffed animal you can hug the hell out of. I have two “Squishables,” a Cheshire Cat and Cerberus and hugging them tight releases some of the tension and relaxes me.

3. Yes, people will stare and ask questions. They are the problem, not you. (That doesn’t mean it can’t hurt. It just means it’s not your fault.)

Tonight I’ll go home, and I will thrash and cry until the medications do their job. I will fall asleep next to my badass husband who isn’t tired, but will stay with my anyway. I will tell him I can’t do this anymore. And I will be wrong.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Thinkstock photo via Lanka69.


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