Elizabeth Michaelson

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I have always viewed myself as an independent person. However, April of 2011, my freshman year of high school, I was faced with an inner conflict that slashed my confidence with one quick ‘tap’. I started experiencing loss of muscle tension whenever touched on the head, regardless of how lightly. By September of Sophomore year, the collapses were happening so frequently and effortlessly that I felt that I had lost control of my body. Between recuperating in the school’s office and doctors’ appointments, keeping up in class was becoming impossible.

Aside from dealing with my own grief, I also had to attend to my peers’ fascination with my new disorder. The boys would often trigger my disorder purposely so I could entertain them. They would make mocking gestures, that would often involve me hitting or touching myself. Afterwards I would feel humiliated and helpless. 

I began identifying as the unknown disorder versus my individual self. It seemed as if all of my energy was going towards my condition. Academics, extracurriculars, and interpersonal relationships became exhausting and deprioritized. As time passed, I continued to lose self confidence and optimism for my future. Even after many doctors’ appointments I had no answers. I wanted desperately to regain power over my body. 

Finally, after numerous hospital stays, tests, and countless days of school missed, I was given an accurate diagnosis: Conversion Disorder. Stress coming from home, school, and my social life had pushed me to the max. I can say that I am a much stronger person now; I have conquered my stress and replaced it with positive coping mechanisms. Sitting in a pediatric neurology office at Detroit Children’s hospital really opened my eyes. Now, my goal through my life’s education is to help patients like myself by pursuing a career in medicine.