Social Anxiety Disorder and Exploding Lives

May 12th was my last post. It has been two months. How much can possibly go wrong in two months? I know setbacks are normal and sometimes you can’t help it. Though, when life explodes, setbacks become obstacles that are tough to hurdle.

Life exploded. I gained the weight back due to depression, and stress eating from everything that has happened in these last two months. Let me break it down for you, but first, I want to talk about Social Anxiety Disorder, if I may.

I’m having one of those days.

Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) can be debilitating in ways that many people don’t understand. For those of us with a high severity of the disorder, appointments become nightmares. We have to psych ourselves up to even get out the door. Forget public transit. That’s the fastest way to end up in the emergency room from a panic attack. Having someone knock on your door unexpectedly, especially if it’s someone you don’t know, can cause an entire day or more of crippling anxiety. Talking on the phone for ten minutes can drain us to the point that we desperately need a nap. Some of us turn off our phones and pretend our batteries are dead just so we can have a day without an anxiety attack.

Grocery shopping? Once a month. Not because I can’t budget my money to go for fresh things every week, but because I can’t deal with that many people at one time more than once a month. And, don’t tell someone with Social Anxiety Disorder to go at night when no one is there, because that makes it worse. With people all around, you can at least sometimes pretend you’re invisible. Going at night, every time you see a living person, they feel obligated to single you out for a greeting. Night shopping is terrifying.

“But you don’t act terrified of people.”

My common coping mechanisms include acting bubbly or ‘easy to talk to’ in an attempt at diffusing the situation fast enough to get away and hide. Dealing with family is easier. They are safe. Some family members, though, still freak me out. Going to my son’s birthday party with strange people and children? I came home, took two ativan, and hid in my shower until the panic went away.

Job? I’ve been fired from more jobs for freaking out and hiding in the back room during panic attacks, than I have had successful job runs. There were only two job runs I was able to stay at. Avaya, in which I was tech support. I would often play the After Call Work button game to keep dropping me to the bottom of the call queue just so I could calm down between calls. I had so many reprimands for this that I was due to be fired, but since the company was closing the office in my city, and I didn’t have seniority to transfer locations, they let me stay until the doors closed.

Social Anxiety Disorder can be lonely.

Living with severe social anxiety disorder is lonely. Family stops wanting you near. Friends disappear because you aren’t ‘fun’. You can’t go to movies or hang out at bars or clubs because you may end up in the hospital. Leaving the house is physically painful. You become isolated, called a hermit, called lazy. We don’t want to live this way. Even with medication, this isn’t something that goes away. The worst thing about Social Anxiety Disorder, is the ongoing and pervasive fear of dying alone. Of never having friends. Of never getting married. Of never connecting with anyone else ever again, because it’s too stressful.

Living with a disorder isn’t fun. It isn’t a get money free pass. Disability isn’t something I would wish on anyone. The stigma that surrounds mental disorders is so thick that it’s hard to breathe. We aren’t moochers. We aren’t lying. We aren’t “working the system”. We are human beings. Just like someone suffering paralysis, we are disabled. Only, it’s our brains that are broken, not our bodies. Just because you can’t see the problem doesn’t mean we aren’t suffering.

Life Exploded

Now I can get into why my fitness goals have been flushed down the toilet for the last two months. I had a full relapse that has sent my SAD into overdrive. The stress eating has made me gain back all the weight I lost and then some. Needless to say, it has not been a pleasant experience.

In May, I was so excited about my fitness regimen that I bordered on religious zeal with it. It was fun, exciting, and the community here was great. The community still is, but on May 13th, my Bipolar Disorder took a depressive swing that I couldn’t shake until June. It was the longest run of a downswing that I have had since I changed medication three years ago. Even now, I’m not sure what caused it. But, it knocked me flat, and just coming on here made me feel lethargic to the point where I couldn’t do anything.

June 3rd, my brakes went out on my van. After many trips to mechanics and lots of heartache because I got told several times that I needed 23-25 feet of brake line, I found out that I only needed to refill my brake fluid. However, the mechanics let me know that my van had two holes the size of my open hand in the frame, and my inspection was due to run out on the 30th.

On Supplemental Security Income, major expenses are crippling.

I only make $881 a month on SSI. After paying bills, I barely have enough to buy groceries. My mechanic cousin convinced me to take my van two hours away to the garage where he works to give a fourth opinion. When he put my van up on the lift, he found the two holes and showed them to me. Then, he showed me several more places where the frame was only millimeters thick. After his assessment, he let me know that my van is not worth fixing. And, because scrap is down, it is only worth $300.

And because I have no credit and am on a fixed income that labels me well below the poverty guidelines (poverty guidelines are currently $15,000 a year, I get $10,500 per year), I can only find one place where I can get a vehicle loan. Kurt Johnson Auto will trade in my worthless van for $2,000 toward a used vehicle if I can come up with $1,500 for tax, tag, and title. With my current income and expenses, that will take me over a year. This means going over a year without transportation. Due to my Social Anxiety Disorder, public transportation is not an option.

Renter’s Insurance can be a pain.

The week of June 8th, lightning struck my trailer. I have renter’s insurance, so I thought I would be covered. And, since I have a laptop and replacement parts for my desktop, I had planned on using the insurance money to help me get reliable transportation. However, things did not go as planned.

The insurance adjuster treated me like a criminal. She asked me for a list of affected components and pictures, which I happily sent. Then, asked for reciepts, which I also sent without issue. After this, she sent an insurance investigator to my house to ask me a ton of questions. And, since I have Social Anxiety Disorder, things did not go well. She sent a man who acted like a police officer, and he scared the ever-bleeding crap out of me.

Over a month after I filed, my insurance adjuster denied the claim. Appeals did nothing, but cause me anxiety and heartache with nothing to show for it.

Rock, meet Hard Place.

Because I am unable to hold a job, I have set up a GoFundMe campaign to help with the van expenses. I’m between that rock and hard place, and I’m stuck. You know how I mentioned earlier that those with Social Anxiety Disorder are sometimes called ‘mooches’ and told to get a job? I have personal experience with this.

In my facebook inbox, I have received several messages from strangers and friends alike. Every single one of them was derogatory. They ranged from “You know you live in [redacted]. You could just, you know, get a JOB.” to “Quit trying to mooch off people.” and “I never thought my friend would be a con artist.”

A con artist. A mooch. Get a job.

These aren’t things restricted only to those with my disorder. Anyone on SSI or SSDI who is under the age of 65 or not missing a limb, and needs financial help usually hears these things at least once. Most hear them, or something like them, on a regular basis.

I need your help.

If you can help with a donation, or can give me information on how to get help with funding, I would appreciate it. The link to the campaign is http://www.gofundme.com/x6h4mfk and shares to help me reach my goal would be awesome.

I apologize for such a long post. However, I need help, and awareness for mental disorders and mental disabilities needs boosted. I am not alone. Anxiety disorders alone are rated “the most common mental illness in the U.S.

We try to be independent and strong. But, sometimes we need help. And often, our families and friends don’t understand, no matter how much or how well we try to explain our disabilities. So, I’m asking for your help.

If you suffer a mental disorder or any other chronic illness or disability, you are amazing and I applaud your strength and courage. If you support someone with a disability, whether emotionally, physically, or financially, you are a hero and I hope you know how much I appreciate each and every one of you. Thank you.