Functional neurological disorder (FND) is a problem largely impacting the function of the brain. It is considered a condition directly at the intersection of neurology and psychiatry – also known as a ‘neuropsychiatric’ disorder. This disorder is complicated and i’m unqualified to talk in much detail about it. But by suffering with this debilitating condition, I will describe my journey.
Within the past 5 months I have been experiencing many neurological problems, so I approached my GP with these symptoms….persistent tingling in feet and hands, blurred vision, dizziness, problems swallowing and speaking, muscle weakness and pain, also numbness in limbs… (my list goes on, but you get the picture). These symptoms are common in so many other illnesses and disorders that the GP did many tests of elimination (MRI, blood tests, spinal fluid removal). These came back normal, so the GP sent me to a neurologist. He explained to me that, because I have been taking strong medicines that focus on chemically changing my brain function, including anti-epileptics, it has affected the nerves associated with motor movements.
Within the past 5 months I have been experiencing many neurological problems, so I approached my GP with these symptoms….persistent tingling in feet and hands, blurred vision, dizziness, problems swallowing and speaking, muscle weakness and pain, also numbness in limbs… (my list goes on, but you get the picture).
It affects my everyday life. I knew there would be a time (after 30 years of anti depressants, anti-manic, anti-psychotic, and anti-epileptics), that I would physically start suffering. At the moment I have 3 appointments with speech therapy and swallow experts monthly. It feels like I have to relearn how my brain connects with my thoughts, which connects with my speech. I can wait for minutes at a time before I manage to synchronise the 2 things at once. I also, at the moment, have to limit the kind of foods I eat. Some hard types of food, like cheese, I have trouble chewing and swallowing. My swallow reflex has been affected to the point where sometimes I cannot initiate the process without really concentrating on it, a really frustrating symptom that I will have for a very long time. It scares me because I was not prepared by doctors or psychiatrists, for the long term side effects of these harsh (and often experimental) drugs.
Every bipolar person will have medication especially tailored for them. I don’t think I have come across any 2 people on the same drugs or doses, this can often make planning for any long term physical or mental problems very difficult. (My hands are shaking typing this). The neurologist explained that not every patient will experience any of this, I’m just one of the unlucky ones I guess. I wanted to write this piece (after much deliberation as to whether I should or not), just in case my experience is not isolated. Never be afraid to question the doctors about any problems you have regarding medication.
Please DO NOT stop taking your medication. I would like to suggest that those taking psychiatric medicines be aware that long term problems may, or may not, become noticeable. Please seek advice from doctors if you have any questions or problems, because like I said, the symptoms are very similar to other illnesses.