The Question I Ask Myself Each Morning With Conversion Disorder
Do I fight today?
It’s a question I ask myself, in some sense, each morning. But on the mornings after the bad days, that’s when I have to take a breath, take a moment and ask: Do I fight today?
A few days ago, I had my first panic attack in a decently long time, and that’s impressive since I am now on month eight of my fight with my latest bout of functional neurological disorder/conversion disorder. So I was exhausted before, and no kind of night’s sleep could catch me up after adding a panic attack on top of it. So I asked.
I decided to give it a shot, so I got out of bed and warmed up my straightener. And I asked. I got the bottom layer passably straight. And I asked. And after the left side and the right side? I asked. Then it got tricky. Probably trickier than it needed to be, but in the moment, that shift to the next step felt like I was starting to commit. So I sat in my chair and stared in the mirror at the girl in her pajamas and what she hoped would pass for “artfully messy” straight hair. And I asked. Again and Again. Do I fight today? Will I even be able to? Can I?
And I took the plunge. I pulled out my makeup. This was the hurdle for me because I will go right back to bed with straight hair. I have zero problems with that. Sometimes, it’s even more comfortable. But makeup costs money, and I wear the good stuff. So if I start putting makeup on, I feel like I am committing to at least getting out of the apartment — to giving the day a try. So I put on my lotion and my primer and my foundation and my powder, and I told myself “You can wipe it all off right now, and no one has to know. You can just go back to bed.” And then I picked up the brushes — blushes, eyeshadows, eyebrows. I wear a lot of makeup, and I couldn’t take any shortcuts that morning. I did it all because I had to feel like Me Standard. Anything less would make me spend the day looking in the mirror thinking about how much I am less than myself the day after. So I brushed, and I swept and I set.
And then it wasn’t a question; it was expletives. “Fuck, now I guess I have to go.” “Damnit, I should have just stayed in bed.” “How the hell am I going to do this?” All with my coffee and creamer, staring at a television that isn’t even on because staring out the dark rain-filled window was just a little too cliché for the ironic tinge to my defeated feelings. Full hair, full makeup, full mug, full pajamas. One last cord to pull. Putting on pants that do not have dogs and fire hydrants on them signals I had, in fact, decided work would be a thing that day. A bra not designed for sport (or sleep, a lot of times) is a sign I would be leaving the apartment.
I don’t remember getting dressed. I don’t remember when I put on earrings, although I managed to remember all four. I just remember walking to the car and staring out the window as my husband drove. I remember hoping I would get a jolt and that the feelings would go away. I remember that jolt never coming. But I made it.
This is every morning after a bad day for me. This is every morning after I’ve been woken up from a panic attack or been up most of the night, flailing through my conversion disorder. This is every morning after a manic or depressive episode. This is every morning during bipolar disorder episodes or bouts of conversion disorder or a long string of anxiety episodes.
Basically, these are my mornings.
Sometimes, I don’t make it past the first question. Do I fight today? No? Good talk. And that’s OK. I’m glad I finally know that letting myself have a day off from fighting isn’t selfish. It’s self-care. Sometimes, I make it to my coffee. There have been a decent amount of times I’ve even made it right up to the front door, and right when you think I would I unlock it, I just turn around.
But these are my mornings. Some are less stressful than others.
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Getty Images photo via demaerre