Have you ever had a relationship in your life, whether it be a family member, coworker, boss, neighbor, schoolmate, or other social acquaintance, who makes you feel like you need to prepare yourself for for battle every time you come in contact with them?
Perhaps they are masters of the subtle put-down, love to give sneaky guilt trips, always manage to make you feel inferior and “less than”, or simply bring out the worst in you, leaving you feeling regretful and exhausted after the encounter finally ends.
I have a meeting like this coming up soon and it has been stressing me out. While I was laying in bed a couple nights ago stressing about it, I suddenly realized how much effort I had to put into steeling myself before the encounter. I have to put on emotional and mental armor and make sure none of my weak spots are showing. I have to be strong and hide any reaction to their attempts to get to me while in their presence, otherwise it will only encourage them.
It made me sad to think that it has to be this way. It also made me realize why the whole experience causes me so much anxiety and exhaustion. Preparing for battle is exhausting!
Sometimes I feel like mental health disorders are like Pokemon: Gotta catch’em all!!!
Is there a point where collecting mental health labels gets ridiculous and almost humorous? Sometimes I wonder if all the stuff that has been ascribed to me is really wrong with me, and if it is – is it actually just one thing with many different facets?
Here are the mental health diagnoses I have collected to this day (that I know of and can remember):
PDD-NOS (high-functioning autism)
Asperger’s Syndrome (a slightly different form of high-functioning autism lol)
Bipolar Type 2
Major Depressive Disorder
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Social Anxiety Disorder
Avoidant Personality Disorder
OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)
SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)
I may be leaving some out or have ones I don’t even know I have in my medical record, but am I getting close to winning this odd, mentally ill game of Pokemon Go yet? I CHOOSE YOU!…
Here is what I wrote on my Facebook page today, I think it pretty much sums it all up:
Six long years, and I finally won my SSDI case! Fully favorable! Feel like crying and screaming. Been sick and in pain so long, sometimes I wanted to give up hope and die, but glad I hung in there.
All those people who doubted me or thought I was just being “lazy” or “dramatic” can kiss my ass. To all those who have showed love, empathy, and encouragement, thank you so much for helping to keep me alive and fighting.
My fellow bloggers here on WordPress definitely fall into the second category of supportive, encouraging people, so thank you all so much!!!
By the way, the decision was just made yesterday and my lawyer was the one who called and told me, so it will still be a little while before I get the back pay or monthly payments started, but I’m on my way!
Sorry I didn’t update you all yesterday after the hearing, but I was just too exhausted mentally, emotionally, and physically after the stress of the day. Overall, I think the hearing went ok. It didn’t start out very well since my husband and I had trouble locating the right building and ended up walking through the thick, slushy snow so far that I had an asthma attack, started crying, and was totally soaked from the knees down by the time we actually found the right building. The roads were bad too from the snowstorm and parking was almost impossible since none of the parking lots had been cleared yet.
Once we got into the building, I had a few minutes to recover from the asthma attack and calm down at least. I also had about 15 minutes to meet with my lawyer before the hearing to go over everything again. During the hearing itself, I was quite nervous. I was doing a lot of rocking back and forth (“stimming” in autistic terms).
I think I only had the nerve to look at the judge two or three times the entire hour I was in there. I mostly stared at the microphone and tried to block out everyone else there while answering questions. That seemed to help my social anxiety. I think I did a decent job answering the judges questions…and she asked a lot. I never lost control of myself, although in my closing remarks I did tear up a bit and got a little emotional talking about how hard it had become for me to keep a job due to my physical and mental disabilities.
Unfortunately, the judge did not tell me her decision yesterday. I will have to wait to receive the official verdict letter. On the positive side, my attorney did say afterwards that he thought it went great and even on the off chance that the judge gave a negative verdict, he thought I had a strong enough case that he would appeal that. I hope it doesn’t come to that though, God only knows how much longer that would make the whole thing drag out…and quite honestly, we need the money as soon as possible, especially since I just got a $1,500 ER bill (our deductible sucks).
Tomorrow morning is my SSDI hearing. I’m super anxious about it. I feel a little nauseated just thinking about it. I’m afraid I’ll do or say the wrong thing. I’m afraid I’ll burst into tears and feel embarrassed. I’m afraid I’ll somehow misrepresent my reality. I’m afraid the judge will say no and ruin my foreseeable future.
I know the judge probably won’t even give a straight “yes” or “no” answer tomorrow, but that makes it even worse because then I have to wait who-knows-how-long in suspense and worry. I hope I’ll feel better when it is over, but knowing me, I’ll probably spend the next few months picking apart the experience and everything I think I did wrong until I get an answer.
I am feeling so incredibly stressed about my upcoming SSDI hearing and everything related to it. It has become an obsessive thought pattern that I can’t get out of. This always happens when something I am super nervous or scared about is looming on the horizon. My mind is a circular track of “what ifs”, incessant thoughts about things I need to do, fears that I will make a mistake and blow my last chance for SSDI benefits, and fear that if I fail and am denied again, it will once again send me into a suicidal spiral of feeling worthless, disbelieved, and like I will forever be a burden to society and those I love.
Tomorrow I have to ask my psychologist to fill out a RFC (Residual Functional Capacity) form for the hearing. I think she will be open to it and want to help, but I am still anxious about asking and scared of rejection. I have to ask my primary care physician to fill out a similar form when I see her next week, and am even more nervous about that because I know she is often rushed and I don’t want to be an inconvenience or annoy anyone by making demands.
As you can see, I struggle greatly with asking anyone to do anything for me. I’m not sure if it is just my lousy self-esteem or what, but I always feel like anything I need is an imposition on someone else. Maybe the result of being raised by a narcissistic parent? Growing up, I often was made to feel like anything I needed (emotionally or physically) was selfish and inconvenient to those around me. To this day, I struggle with feeling like I am actually entitled to anything – even basic human respect.
I think my fear of being disbelieved about my disabilities also stems from the fact that when I first started getting really sick, even my own husband and family didn’t believe me. My husband came around first, when he saw how much I truly was suffering every day and how even the things I loved most were being ripped away from me. He has even apologized for his initial doubts. Some of my family (including in-laws) still make me feel invalidated, but I’ve come to the conclusion I can’t do much about that.
Today has been a rough day 😦 I had to get up early to go to an appointment with my lawyer to talk about my upcoming SSDI hearing in February. I woke up feeling exhausted, achy, and sick to begin with, my stomach and digestive system freaking out from the anxiety of the change in routine as they always do.
The meeting went ok, I suppose. The lawyer seems really nice and genuine, but the whole thing depressed me. For one thing, it isn’t easy to have everything that is wrong with you physically and mentally just laid out on the table for everyone to see. It isn’t fun facing the reality of my own limitations and self-perceived flaws. I know I can’t help having mental and physical issues, but it SUCKS to have to dwell on them and think about them more than I already do normally.
The lawyer wants me to try to get my doctors to fill out some forms to take to the hearing and that gives me high anxiety. I hate having to ask anyone to do anything, it is just the way I am. I have a deep fear of rejection. What if they say “no” when I ask them to fill out the forms? Then I will feel even lower than I already do. I know my doctors are caring people who try to help me and they will probably be more than willing to help, but my brain just can’t shut off the “what ifs”.
I came home from the lawyer visit, cried for a little bit, then crashed for a few hours in bed. I still feel like absolute crud, but am trying to get back into my normal routine. I am desperately in need of some self-love and comfort right now, but that isn’t easy for me to do.
This post will contain a collection of short journal entries I wrote recently about what it was like emotionally to grow up with autism. These thoughts specifically dealt with bullying and (for me) the most confusing time of adolescence, which was middle school and the beginning of high school. By the last couple years of high school I had figured some things out and learned how to “pretend” to fit in a bit better, even though deep down I still felt like an oddball.
I hated always being the butt of the joke – even among friends. I was naive. I was gullible. I was trusting. Too many times I was set up for humiliation or embarrassment.
In an effort to avoid this embarrassment, I quit trusting anyone. I quit taking anyone at their word. I became suspicious. I struggled to identify sarcasm, so I started assuming ALL was sarcasm unless I knew someone well enough to tell the difference.
Due to this struggle with recognizing sarcasm, how many “mean” comments did I take to heart that were meant in jest? How many cruel words that cut me to the core, were never even meant to be cruel? When boys would say they liked me and I would take it as them mocking me and choose to ignore them or laugh at their “joke”, did I instead end up hurting their feelings in an effort to save my own?
Bullied for my weight during middle school, accused of having a lack of “feeling” or frustrating others who thought I didn’t care about anything because I suffered from selective mutism under stress, constantly feeling reminded that I wasn’t “feminine” enough – this was much of my teenage experience.
The common thread throughout was that I unknowingly made myself a target for abuse. The way I dressed. The way I talked. The way I acted. I was so desperate for acceptance and approval, but I reached for them in ways that were socially unacceptable to those around me and ended up only painting the bulls-eye larger on myself.
By: Maranda Russell
and clenched fists
accompany defiant eyes.
I have high expectations
but I avoid them all.
Sick in the stomach,
sick in the head,
sick of this life.
I would cry,
but I never
penciled it in today.