FiNDing Hope

The Mind-Body Connection and the Importance of Being Seen and Heard

Non-Fiction - Health - Medical
367 Pages
Reviewed on 01/13/2024
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Author Biography

Jocelyn Bystrom is an author, keynote speaker, and educator with a reputation for challenging the status quo when it comes to healthcare. Jocelyn completed an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership & Counselling from City University of Seattle. She’s an educator and writer who has made a name for herself in British Columbia, as an educational leader, K-8th grade teacher, Adlerian School Counsellor, and Gifted Education Specialist. Jocelyn Bystrom has a special passion for mental health advocacy and works alongside mental health leaders & stigma-free advocates to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health in her Western Canada community, in schools, in the workplace and online. Jocelyn blogs to share mental health and FND health content with the aim of sharing mental health insights, resources, and wisdom. She also has several thousand social media followers across X, Instagram, and Facebook.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Courtnee Turner Hoyle for Readers' Favorite

In FiNDing Hope: The Mind-Body Connection and the Importance of Being Seen and Heard, Jocelyn Bystrom offers readers a detailed account of her journey through traumatic events, the onset of health concerns and seizures, and the search for a proper diagnosis. Readers learn about Bystrom's symptoms, and the diagnoses doctors considered, like epilepsy and Parkinson's disease, as she shares her family's challenges and her time as an educator. Bystrom conveys her childhood and changing roles in her adulthood while she dealt with the effects of her symptoms and the pandemic. The author took notes and journaled her health and appointments with healthcare professionals, so she could chronicle EEGs, spinal taps, and seizures with accuracy. Bystrom includes her prayers as she struggled to find the source of her symptoms for seven years.

Jocelyn Bystrom relates her story as if the reader is a dear friend as she advocates awareness for Functional Neurological Disorder (FND). With literary skill, she recounts her intense emotions during each defining event. In addition to her debilitating symptoms, Bystrom details losing her mother to dementia. Even though her husband and children were a strong support group, the author acutely felt the absence of parental affection and longed for it. Bystrom's experience should issue a call to action, and more healthcare professionals should understand the need to treat the mind and body as one unit instead of separately. Bystrom is an inspiration to people who struggle with the uncertainty of their symptoms and hope for a definitive diagnosis. FiNDing Hope is a good selection for anyone looking for validation who has been told "let's wait and see" by medical professionals as they wonder about the origin and progression of their symptoms.

Frank Mutuma

Functional behaviors like those expressed in functional neurological disorders can be reduced when physiological and emotional needs are met, as Jocelyn Bystrom realized after her encounter with Dr. Sidhu. Jocelyn had already gone through a lot. The physical symptoms, such as uncontrolled body movements, headaches, and progressive cognitive decline, were just one aspect of her predicament. She had to deal with many specialists, some of whom were not friendly and insinuated that her symptoms were not real. The constant fear of not knowing exactly what was happening and what would happen in the long run took an enormous emotional toll. To find out more about Jocelyn's journey and more about this rare condition of FND, pick up a copy of FiNDing Hope: The Mind-Body Connection and the Importance of Being Seen and Heard by Jocelyn Bystrom.

Being a medic, I understand the implications of misdiagnosis not just for a client but also for their loved ones, and that's why the message conveyed in FiNDing Hope by Jocelyn Bystrom captured my undivided attention. Maybe due to the current standard operating procedures or manner of training, health workers rarely look at their patients from a holistic perspective, and this can lead to poor outcomes. Not everything is biological, and I loved how this memoir captured the role of mental health and social support networks in providing appropriate care. I also loved the tone adopted and the steady narration utilized, which added to the overall appeal of this moving work. The language used is also easy to understand, and this will go a long way toward making the book accessible to all readers. This is a great read, and very informative.

Doreen Chombu

Jocelyn Bystrom shares her emotional journey in her memoir FiNDing Hope, where she bravely confronts Functional Neurological Disorder (FND), a neurological condition with symptoms resembling epilepsy. For seven years, Jocelyn battled seizures, loss of coordination, and excruciating headaches that deeply impacted her mental well-being, marriage, career, and spirituality. Doubt consumed her as she questioned herself, her loved ones, and her faith. Without a diagnosis, she feared the unknown cause of her suffering, and with her mother's declining health during the COVID-19 pandemic, she felt powerless and inadequate. Jocelyn delves into traumatic incidents throughout her life, which left her feeling unloved and compelled to please others. Additionally, she recounts an innocent email that subjected her to a grueling process, where her professionalism and competence as an educator were called into question. Through all this, Jocelyn fought for hope, journaled her journey, and expressed her emotions through painting and poetry.

FiNDing Hope encompasses themes of trust, hope, self-discovery, love, and the importance of speaking one's truth. Jocelyn Bystrom is a resilient yet fragile individual, who invites readers to delve into her innermost thoughts and provides them with a glimpse into her psyche. Her remarkable ability to persevere and find solace amidst the storm is truly inspiring. The book offers numerous valuable lessons, not only from Jocelyn herself but also from her unwavering family, who stood by her side throughout her trials. The narrative has a calm and peaceful tone and is well organized. The story is not chronologically written but is easy to follow because each aspect of Jocelyn's life is thoughtfully organized into distinct sections, showcasing her creativity and attention to detail, from the title to the cover design. For anyone enduring challenging times, FiNDing Hope is a must-read, serving as a poignant reminder that they are not alone in their struggles.

Keith Mbuya

Mental health is increasingly becoming a popular subject in households, schools, and social institutions all over the world. Just like any other disease or health condition, mental health has proven to have severe effects on one’s general health if neglected. Most people have no idea they may be suffering from mental illnesses as symptoms may vary from mild to life-threatening, especially because mental well-being is such a delicate yet complicated aspect of the human brain. Jocelyn Bystrom shares her experiences with Functional Neurologic Disorder (FND), a neurological disorder, in FiNDing Hope: The Mind-Body Connection and Importance of Being Seen and Heard. Get yourself a copy to discover more.

Jocelyn Bystrom’s FiNDing Hope is a must-read for readers or those supporting others struggling with mental well-being. Breaking her discourse into five parts, Jocelyn pours her heart out through personal experiences and memories. The intellectual edge underlying her intimate tone, coupled with the research data and factual information, made the reading experience enthralling and enlightening. I had never heard about FND before reading this book, and seeing how unexpected functional symptoms may affect the daily lives of many people left me with a lot of questions. It is even more worrying that most of the triggers and functional symptoms are out of the individual’s control. For instance, we may not have control over our parents’ marital status, our job status, personal relationships, and many other factors that often greatly impact our lives. The good news is that seeking help can make a great difference.

Luwi Nyakansaila

FiNDing Hope is an inspiring medical memoir by Jocelyn Bystrom, chronicling her journey with Functional Neurological Disorder (FND), a mental health condition that may be characterized by: epileptic-like seizures, headaches, and/or a gradual loss of cognitive abilities, as Jocelyn experienced or may differ as we learn in FiNDing Hope. Functional symptoms can be as complex and varied as are our individual bodies. It also sheds light on Jocelyn's challenges in caring for her mother, who was diagnosed simultaneously with frontal temporal dementia. The book aims to raise awareness about these disorders and instill hope even in the darkest moments. Jocelyn recounts how her symptoms started escalating after a traumatic incident that occurred after she lost her teaching job, leading her to question her decision to speak up. This incident shattered her self-esteem and triggered long-suppressed internal trauma. She delves into her childhood, her relationships with her parents and grandfather, as well as the joys and pressures of motherhood. Jocelyn shares her arduous seven-year quest for a definitive diagnosis, detailing the physical, cognitive, mental, and spiritual battles she faced during this period. Finally, she discusses and reflects on life after receiving an unexpected FND diagnosis.

FiNDing Hope is a heart-stirring memoir that will take readers on an emotional journey, inspiring them to persevere in the face of adversity. Jocelyn Bystrom's experience serves as a testament to the transformative power of love, support from loved ones, and faith in God. Throughout the book, her vulnerability, and honesty shine through, allowing readers to truly grasp the authenticity of her struggles. Many will find elements of their own lives within Jocelyn's story, forging a profound connection with her. Despite having medical terms, the book is easy to understand because the author uses simple words to explain them. Her use of metaphorical anecdotes and comparisons adds a poetic touch, making it engaging. I enjoyed this book and sincerely hope it reaches a wider audience who will appreciate its profound message.