Functional Neurological Disorder is a condition where your brain and body lose the ability to communicate. It's like having crossed wires. Your brain is talking in English, but your body only understands French, causing a lot of miscommunication. It's a complicated condition, and can be scary to suffer from, and frightening to watch someone battle.
People with FND can suffer from many, many different symptoms. These include: Weakness, Paralysis, Seizures (non-epileptic), Bladder and Bowel dysfunction, Co-ordination or Dexterity difficulties, Speech problems, Chronic Pain, Cognitive changes, Gait & Balance problems, Headaches & Migraines, Involuntary Movements, Sensory changes, Sleep disturbances and Visual changes. Basically anything that involves the nervous system can go wrong in FND.
FND is still fairly poorly understood, and patients don't always receive the medical help and support that they need and deserve. It can be a battle to access all the services needed to support recovery, and many patients experience some ignorant healthcare professionals along the way. Doctors who are specialist can be very helpful when trying to access things like physiotherapy and neuropsychology, and they can help to educate healthcare professionals and make useful suggestions in terms of medications, but specialists are unfortunately relatively uncommon, and it can be hard to access their help initially too.
In FND, there doesn't appear to be physical damage, it's more a problem with the messages and functioning. Physio and recovery generally, focuses on retraining the body, and trying to get the body and brain speaking the same language.
FND is a complex condition and recovery doesn't come easily. Some people, for whatever reasons, don't recover. Other people improve but only partially recover. Some do make a full recovery. For the best chance of recovery, patients need multidisciplinary input, but this is currently quite difficult to access, and healthcare professionals aren't always well educated on FND, so the help available isn't always ideal.
Unless someone has FND, or knows someone who does, they're unlikely to know much, or anything, about FND, despite the fact it is not rare. Because it's currently not well understood, many keep quiet about their diagnosis, as they don't think people will understand. Awareness is so important to bring attention to the condition, help sufferers feel better understood, and encourage services to offer better help for FND sufferers.
Today is our day to speak out.