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There's Hope, even if no cure! #FND

Updated: Jan 29

If you're willing to do the work, believe you can do hard things, and willing to practice new skills, functional symptoms can shift, and even be eliminated. It was up to me to decide. Was I willing to do the work that wellness demanded?

Got #FND?

Experiencing #functionalsymptoms, or a new #FND diagnosis?

In that first year, after my FND diagnosis, I chose positivity, and with curiosity clung to the belief that Dr. Sidhu, planted in me.

"There's hope, and you can be well," he'd told me at the Seizures Investigation Unit.

I'd believed him. Now what?

I waited, longer than I'd wanted to say, "Yes." Eventually, I was offered the opportunity to participate in a group and learn something called: DBT.

DBT? What's DBT?

Are DBT skills for Everybody?

I'd looked up DBT on Amazon, as the nerd that I am needed to know. I'd impulsively purchased: Marsha M. Linehan's, Second Edition, coil bound book: DBT Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets. I'm a smart girl, I believed. I can learn this. Although the invitation hadn't been to learn on my own, it was to participate in a group that would meet once a week online. I wasn't sure about that. Who would be in the group? Would I feel comfortable and confident, or alternately out of place, and foolish, for ending up here. I bathed in self-stigma, as I contemplated, although not for long. I experienced the shame of needing to participate in a mental-health group, which might include individuals with substances use challenges, or who were on the streets. Pride initially got in the way. It wouldn’t matter. Everyone there would be needing these skills to be well; and that included me. To say that I was apprehensive was an understatement. I live in a small community where everyone knows everyone, and I am an educator, and known in the Comox Valley, where I call home.

Was it shame or self-stigma?

But then like being hit by a 2x4 on the side of the head, I got it. I'm no different than anyone else... I needed to master these skills to be well. If being seen as someone needing mental health supports from a psychiatrist, or known to require skills in either CBT, or DBT, then I was ready. I wanted and needed to reclaim a life worth living. It was time to radically accept that I needed help. We all do if we have a brain above our neck. It needs to be as easy to pick up your cell phone and receive the mental health supports that you require as easily as it is to phone your doctor’s office and make an appointment for a cut, infection, or broken arm.

I'd flown under the radar for too long, without support for grief and loss, and needed to know that it was okay to admit it. I needed help. It was time to say, "Yes," to myself, and prioritize my needs: physical, mental, emotional, relational, spiritual... all my needs. I believed I was enough, worthy, and deserving of this mental health support , and I wanted to be well. I'm a good human.

So, with trepidation after the psychiatrist’s referral to my local community mental health unit, I signed into my first Zoom DBT skills meeting and met other humans in need. There were rules, that assured confidentiality that we all agreed to, and despite knowing a lot of therapeutic skills, I hadn’t known these, that I apparently required. I accepted the challenge, chose to do the hard work, and looked-forward to results I saw offered, if only I choose to show up for myself, practice, do the homework. It was my choice. Did I want to be well, or not.

Was it hard? Absolutely!

Was I good at the skills at first? Absolutely not! Did my family want me to practice these new skills? Not necessarily. Change is hard on everyone. It’s not easy to commit to practice when it’s not easy or fun. It wasn’t fun or easy for those I was practicing with either, although they loved me unconditionally, and persevered, knowing this was what I’d needed to be well. I was determined.

Practice enables mastery, and I wanted more than anything to be well. I'd seen the dark side; I'd been beyond discouraged and distressed. My brain, had forgotten to tell my body to breathe. I'd experienced the multiple ambulance rides, and hospital admissions. I’d known the fear of not knowing what was wrong with me through a seven-year diagnostic journey. I hadn’t known if I would live. Would I live, to see 2022? I hadn’t been sure.

I needed to say yes, when support was offered.

I could be well; and wasn't.

Cover of FiNDing Hope, by Jocelyn Bystrom

Now I am enjoying a life worth living... again.

DBT, or Dialectical Behavioural Therapy, might not be the solution your body requires, but you're certainly worthy of prioritizing what YOUR BODY & MIND need. Will you say: Yes, and do the work?

If what you require, is hard to get… keep asking, keep advocating, and keep showing up for yourself until you get what you deserve, wellness.

FiNDing Hope: The Mind-Body Connection & Importance of Being Seen and Heard,

Stone Tiger Books, New York, 2023 - Available on Amazon

Want to know more about DBT?

Suggested Links: DBT Videos & Resources

*This is the course I'm currently taking... Week 4 of 6.

Want to know more about CBT?

Suggested Links:

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American Psychological Association Videos produced by APA, including episodes of the podcast Speaking of Psychology and extras from the Monitor on Psychology.

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