Friday, 18 March 2011

Everything is awful.

I am mentally ill. I have depression and more seriously Social Anxiety Disorder/Social Phobia. This basically is shyness taken to the nth degree. I can't use the phone, even to talk to friends, I am almost phycially unable to strangersl and often feel horribly uncomfortable talking to friends and sometimes even family. If you're aquainted with me you'll probably have seen me standing quietly, hiding behind other people, or trying awkwardly to talk to you. If I know I will have to interact with a stranger I can't sleep and spend the time leading up to it a quaking, crying mess. I feel nauseous and panicy. I can't cope with crowds and suffer from panic attacks. I can't even send an email to someone I don't know without feeling extreme anxiety. I have horrible problems going places I haven't been before. I'm absolutely terrified of people judging me. In my head I'm sure everyone dislikes me or only tolerates me and thinks I'm stupid and weird and irritating and ugly and boring. Some people are surprised to hear about my problems because apparently sometimes I come across as 'normal' and frankly that astounds me. Usually I'm sure I come across as a complete mess, every word I say has been gone over in my head again and again to make sure it sounds alright and I feel I come across as an inane twit. Anytime I leave my house it's a case out out-of-the-frying-pan-into-the-fire with anxiety. For instance today I had to get a bus. I waited for it worrying about having to hail it and having to interact with the driver. Then when I was on I spent a good chunk of time praying noone would sit next to me. Then someone did sit next to me and I felt sick and worried about how they were judging me. Then I had to get off and panicked about having to press the call request button and have to get the woman next to me to let me by. And then I worry about people watching me as I get off.

I'm well aware of how incredibly stupid this sounds. It's completely paranoid and pretty nonsensical but there's no way I can help it. I feel like all eyes are on me, waiting for me to screw up in some way real or imagined and then everyone will judge me and hate me. I spend the majority of the time I leave the house feeling sick.
So I don't leave the house much. And I don't answer the door unless there's no way I can get out of it. And then I tremble and quake and feel unsafe in my own house because someone has invaded the one place I can (usually feel comfortable).

The only way for me to get rid of these feelings is to get very, very drunk.




I've had this problem basically all my life, but it got a lot worse as I approached my twenties so I eventually was forced to go to the doctor and get help. This in itself is horribly traumatic. And unfortunately there's only 2 options for treatment I have been offered. 1. Drugs and 2. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. I've tried both and neither has helped.

I was on medication for about 2 years. It actually did get rid of most of the symptons of my depression but didn't help at all with my social anxiety. And about a year ago I stopped taking my tablets. Why? Because I ran out of them. I couldn't get a repeat prescription  because I lost my surgerys log on details and couldn't use the internet service, so I would have had to go to my doctor. And I haven't been in over a year because my GP sent me for a sort of psychiatric evaluation with the most horrible, unsympathetic doctor who made me feel so bad that I am terrified to go back to the doctors even though my GP was always really lovely and understanding.

And Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. God I could go on about this forever. I know it works well for some people but for me, it genuinely made my phobia worse. Why? Because the way it works is basically to try and prove that the problem is all in your head. For instance, say you're afraid of snakes, with CBT they'd start by talking about snakes, you'd feel worried but realise it was irrational and get comfortable talking about snakes. Then they'd show you a photo, then when you were comfortable with that they move onto films of snakes and so on until you realise the problem was all in your head and snakes won't harm you. And it's the same basic theory when applied to Social Phobia. I was talked to about my ideas and feelings and told they weren't true, then I was made to do tasks, like calling a friend on the phone, or complimenting a school mate or approaching a stranger and asking the time. The idea is that as you get used to doing these things you feel more comfortable doing them.
So why did it make me worse? Because I was never ever comfortable doing the tasks. I always felt I was being forced into them. Doing them was absolutely excruciating and while I would have to grit my teeth and do it my whole body was screaming at me not to. As a result while I did feel a sense of relief when the task was over, it wasn't because I had come to no harm, it was because it was over and that just compounded my feelings that interacting with people was scary and painful.
Also I am well aware that the problem is in my head, there's no point trying to prove that to me. but I cannot help what I feel. Knowing it's irrational doesn't help at all.
So after my CBT I became even more of a recluse than ever.

I did go to art college but didn't socialise at all. I sat in my studio painting on my own and listened to music and spent basically the whole 3 years there alone.  I couldn't attend crits or seminars and couldn't use the library and while I forced myself to attend tutorials I was so self concious that I generally just sat silently and listened instead of having a dialogue with my tutor. Once in a while people would invite me out but I always came up with an excuse because I was too frightened.


Because of my problems I cannot work properly. I do have a job working for my sister doing admin (I don't have to interact with anyone apart form my sister and brother in law and don't have to travel at rush hour) but it is only about 3 hours every fortnight. Ignoring the fact that the only thing I am qualified in is fine art, I cannot imagine any job I could possibly do. I usually shake and cry and hyperventilate if I am forced to interact with someone I don't know, imagine me in an interview! And as for trying to make a living with my artwork... well it's just not possible. It's insanely difficult for anyone to make it in the art world, and possibly even more important than actual talent is the ability to talk yourself up and blag your way into exhibitions and comissions. I can't socialise with other artists, I can't make connections, I can't approach galleries, I can't contact publishers. And to top it off my stupid college never actually taught me how I'm supposed to do any of this!

So since leaving art school I've been on Employment Support Allowance.

But I had to go for a medical assessment recently. Despite the fact that I was crying, hyperventilating, shaking, rocking back and forth and barely able to answer questions in any coherent way I failed it.

I've been told that I scored 0 points and have 'no problems meeting and mixing with new people or going to new places'. I had no idea how the test worked before I went into it, but have since found out that, while the person asks detailed questions and you answer in the same detailed way, only a 'yes' or 'no' answer goes on the form. So when they asked 'can you leave the house on your own?' and I truthfully answered 'yes but only if I am very familiar with the area, have been brought there by someone repeated times previously and know I will not have to interact with anyone' it was just taken down as a 'yes'. You have to score over 15 points but a lot of the questions were completely irrelevant to my problem, so there was no reason for me to be asked them. There were actually very few questions relevant to social anxiety.

So I now have basically no income (I make about £40 a month working for my sister, this isn't even enough to pay for my mobile bill and pet insurance). Luckilly I still live with my Mum, but I have paid her rent for the last few years and now cannot afford to.

Now that I've failed the lovely people have told me my options. 1. Go on job seekers allowance. 2. Working Tax Credits. 1. Is not an option for me at all. Not only am I unable to work, but I would also be unable to even just go and sign on. And for 2  you have to work over 16 hours and also be disabled. I work less than 3 hours a week and don't even know as I count as disabled anymore seeing as they've said I have no problems.

An advisor woman I have had previously told me that if I failed I can appeal. I thank God that I know her as the letter doesn't mention it at all (which is pretty despicable if you ask me).  Unfortunately I'm still not really comfortable with her so I can't really get in touch for help and I really can't do it without help.

Since finding out I was failed I've been in constant tears and was barely able to get out of bed this morning. It's not just the money. I feel I'm being called a liar and a benefit cheat. Lots of people don't understand my illness or dismiss it as mere shyness that I should just get over and this is just confirming those thoughts. And not only that, but for a long time I have felt guilty and worthless because I can't contribute anything to society. Now I feel even worse because I can't even pay my rent or afford basic necessities. My life is completely and utterly pointless.

I honestly have no idea what to do. I need to appeal obviously but the process is just so horrible sounding. Appealing means eventually I will have to go before a tribunal. I don't even have words to describe how terrifying that is. I have no idea how I could cope with that. I can't use the phone so I can't even get in touch with anyone to help and I don't even know who to contact anyway. It's hard not to feel like my life is over. I can't work, I can't get any money to live on, I'm surviving off the charity of loved ones and I can't see anything changing anytime soon. If I fail all my appeals what on earth can I do? Thank God I have lovely supportive friends and family, but I feel so guilty and such a burden.

29 comments:

  1. Is there any way to retake the test? Can you get a GP to help you out? I can't believe that they failed you. How cruel. Can you email/write the advisor woman you who told you about the appeal, explain to her that your illness makes it too difficult to call her or interact with her in person and can she help you resolve this? You are NOT worthless, you are not a cheat and it is NOT your fault - it's the fault of the person who couldn't be bothered to listen to what you were actually saying. I'd also see about lodging a (written) complaint about the person who 'evaluated' you.

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  2. All I have to say at the moment is <3... I will post a proper response when my eyes are threatening to shut on their own!

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  3. Oh Lillian. You're so wonderful and beautiful and amazing, and it's such a shame you can't see it. And I want to help you so much, but I don't know how.

    You can appeal against the assessment. Many people have had problems with the people (ATOS, a private company) who are doing the tests - most of them are completely unqualified, and certainly not doctors! If you want me to, I can find out the information and send it to you or Claire.

    Call it a random gift as an act of kindness :)
    *offer of a hug*

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  4. Oh, Lillian, I know just how you feel! I know a lot of people say that, but I really do- and I live in a high-volume tourist trap and it's Spring Break season. There are people everywhere constantly and I get so nervous that I mostly just stay home because strangers scare me.

    I'll definitely be crossing my fingers for you.

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  5. Hang in there, lovely, I'm sure a solution will present itself! I feel very sorry for you and the fact that you may have to fight for your rights :(

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  6. :(

    Government folks ought to make adjustments to procedure in order to accommodate people with disabilities, don't they? I mean, not that they always do or that the steps they take are necessarily effective, but advisor lady sounds nice and might be able to help with getting accommodations. Maybe your sister can be the one to get in touch with her at first, to take the pressure off your shoulders?

    I'm sorry to hear you're going through all this crap. My family is in a similar situation, and even though I'm sure I'm neurotypical, getting shot down by the Social Security interviewer on top of everything else was so nervewracking I had to have a cry in the bathroom afterwards. I can't imagine how very much worse this kind of thing would be for someone with SAD.

    May everything only get better for you from here.

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  7. I always love reading your blogs because I relate so well to you. I also have severe Depression and Anxiety Disorder. It's frustrating to try to explain to a lot of people because they don't much understand. It's not like we don't know that the fears are irrational, theres just nothing that can much fix it. It's just nice knowing there are others out there dealing with it.

    I also failed my disability testing which is outright ridiculous. I'm not allowed to apply again for another six months. Their reasoning was because I still lived with my parents and I just turned 18 not long ago. The problem with this is that my parents are completely unsupportive and are kicking me out within the next month because my not working is laziness and I just exaggerate all my problems. I haven't left my house in well over a month, before that it was just me staying at my boyfriends and just not leaving his house.

    Ah! I'm rambling now. I really hope that things work themselves out. You're an amazing person and deserve them to.
    If you ever need someone to talk to, I'm here. =]

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  8. One of the things I love about your blogs is how I can relate to them because I also suffer from Anxiety Disorder/Social Phobia, although not to the same level as you.

    What you said about being on the bus is exact same as me, I practically beg for lifts everywhere because I am so scared of public transport. I have to get other people to order food for me in resturaunts and I will only do things for myself in resturaunts or shops that are marked as "safe and familliar" in my head.

    I struggle using the phone unless it is people I know, I shake and panic and so many people have branded me stupid.Luckily I am holding down a job but that is mainly due to the fact my mum also works there and it atleast means I have some sort of familliar thing there.

    I think you are extremely brave for putting yourself out there and telling everyone. Your honesty is admirable and I truely hope things begin to get a bit better for you, I know just how hard it can be and I wish you all the best!

    x

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  9. Lillian,

    So sorry you're going through this. Mental disorders are so hard to diagnose, treat and even just understand because there generally aren't physical symptoms; there's not a blood test, etc...but often they're much more disabilitating.

    I know this isn't for here and now, and I don't at all mean to make light of your situation- this is just something that occured to me while reading your post and hearing about how you struggled to gain an education & now don't feel as if you have anything to contribute. I'm just wondering how you feel around children, or special needs individuals. I don't claim at all to understand the underlying reasons for your social fears, but a lot of the symptoms that you mention bothering you may be alleviated if you're around someone that your brain will allow you to believe is less capable of judging you. It occurred to me that perhaps one day you can use your art training to work in a therapeutic manner with children or the differently albled.

    This may be a moot point, since you may be just as uncomfortable around that subset as you are the general public, but I just thought I'd pose the theory.

    I also want to remind you that there are new medications coming out all of the time. You may be less motivated to get back on your meds because they weren't helping the more debilitating of your syndromes- but there very well be something that will work better for you now.

    good luck beautiful lady!

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  10. Firstly - Hundreds of huggles for you xxx I know how difficult it is to have mental health problems, espesh under this government which seems to have stopped everyones mental health allowance if they can make themselves breakfast! Which is truly cruel. As someone with on/off agoraphobia, depression, baaad anxiety I am disgusted at this.
    I agree CBT does not work for everyone, and the fact that they think that it does (same with drugs) is aweful, I hated it because I didn't like being told to do and when I didn't do it, being told that I don't want to get well (wtf?) I mean of course its so relaxing having anxiety all day ;) Its like all alternative therapies, you have to find the one right for you and because they are too busy with drugs haven't bothered testing and making other ones available. Having said that I am on cit and it does work a little for me, but still!!
    I spent ages trying to find a good doctor, once you have done (I had to work my way through a whole clinic, all of them made me cry lolol) then it is worth it fo sho.
    Also the mOOn is making everything worse atm what with being bigger than usual and almost full.
    Also - you are a lovely person, I love your blogs and you just seem like a really lovely and interesting and pretty lady, and very talented too! I know brains always seem to work against us, but just think, you are made of awesomeness, and keep it with you always :-) xxxx

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  11. I should probably mention as well..when times are really bad I read a book called self help for your nerves by Dr.Claire Weekes..it has helped me loads. I have a spare copy (i always look for them every time I go to second hand book shop) if you would like a copy just give us a message xx hugs xx

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  12. I'm going to throw in my two cents now.

    From this post it's fairly obvious you're in a bad bout of depression. It's near impossible to get into major stuff when you're depressed, so dealing with that first is crucial, I think. Depression makes everything appear hopeless and even scarier than it already is, and loads of people who don't have social phobia (like me) find it extremely difficult (if not impossible) to interact with other people and ask for help when they are depressed. Trying to deal with something as deeply rooted as your social phobia in this state is like trying to run a marathon when you have pneumonia. If medication has helped before I think you should go for it again. Get Claire or someone in your family to call the doctor who got you on them before. They want to help, I promise you. I know it's hard as fuck to ask because it makes you feel like even more of a burden, but I assure you it's a shitload better to be able to help someone you care about than to watch them feel miserable. I have been very frustrated with my family members who have had depression when they have just hidden away and refused to get help, but never ever when they have asked me for help. I have always been glad to help, and I'm a pretty shit and not particularly helpful person, haha!

    More in another comment...

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  13. It's not hopeless, even though I know that's how it feels. Even if you have had it since you were a child you weren't born with social anxiety. There is nothing inherently wrong with you. Circumstances in your life have made you develop it. This means it can be solved. It's not easy, and there probably isn't a quick fix, but it's possible, and absolutely necessary, because frankly, what option do you have? You are suffering so badly from it as it is that there is no way dealing with it won't be worth it, even if it's absolutely terrifying. You can't go on feeling like shit all the time. It's just not an option.

    Cognitive Behaviour Therapy doesn't work for everyone, so it might not work for you, and there must be doctors willing to offer alternative therapy forms. But, you should also take into account that CBT is not meant to be a comfortable experience. And it's also not about convincing you INTELLECTUALLY that the fear is irrational, I think most somewhat intelligent people with phobias or other related issues are aware of the "silliness" of it. It's about understanding it emotionally, of FEELING it, and that's a whole other matter which usually takes a much longer time to do. If the doctors you have seen have not been able to understand this they suck. They are the problem, not you. It's their fucking job to find alternative ways to deal with it if the first one doesn't work. If they refuse to try something else then get another one. It's really all you can do, and it WILL be worth it in the end. There must be doctors specializing on social anxiety, and a large chunk of them must be good enough to find other kinds of therapy for you to try, and to find ways to communicate with you that work for you and make you feel like you can open up to them and feel safe.

    Also, don't be an asshole to yourself. I don't know if you're like me, but I am an expert at making myself feel guilty for not being able to take care of myself or function like a normal person. We just work in different ways. When I was feeling particularly crap a while ago I found this quote, which is about being suicidal, but you can replace "suicidal" with "depressed" and it still works:

    "Don't accept it if someone tells you, "That's not enough to be suicidal about." There are many kinds of pain that may lead to suicide. Whether or not the pain is bearable may differ from person to person. What might be bearable to someone else, may not be bearable to you. The point at which the pain becomes unbearable depends on what kinds of coping resources you have. Individuals vary greatly in their capacity to withstand pain."

    That helped me feel less shit about being so bad at coping with stuff.

    Okay, that was more like three dollars than two cents. And I might come back and babble more.

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  14. Lillian, I have read your make-up blog for about a year and started my own blog partly inspired by you (you're awesome).

    I did a fine art degree as well, you see, and felt unable to cope with approaching galleries, too... I ended up showing some pictures just where my friends showed theirs so I wouldn't have to ask for myself.

    What I mean to say is I related to lots of parts of this post. I feel like I'm a total weirdo for developing this problem because as a child I wasn't just normal - I was LOUD. I would not SHUT UP. All of my reports said 'Ruth is bright but needs to concentrate, she won't stop chatting and laughing in class'... When I became a teenager though, things just got more and more awkward. So I suppose I want you to know that it happens to all kinds of people and you are NOT weird. You have amazing style and make-up skills and you're really funny.

    I finally admitted I had a problem at the end of my degree because I had lots of panicking outbursts - in the studio at uni, at my housemates, at a lady working in the train station when I couldn't find the right platform, at my family, at my then-boyfriend etc.

    It sounds like your social anxiety is like mine but more extreme and I truly sympathise.

    When I went in for CBT it turned out to be with a girl a few months younger than me from my form during my A-levels, she reminded me so much of some of the worst times of my life and she ignored that we knew each other which is part of my mental problem - people ignore me that used to chat to me quite frequently. It was so awful. I started to be mostly anxious about our sessions, above all else.

    Then I asked to change my therapist for that reason and it was a man who seemed to think I had no problems. He said I should just learn to drive so I'd be more employable. Some great advice, that. So I stopped going. I told him I was feeling better, as I'd managed to get a part-time job, and I stopped seeing him after about two months.

    I'm not saying I have no anxiety anymore, but things are seeming much easier for me these days. I'm still quite socially awkward but I'm working on it.

    I'm thinking good thoughts for you, and sorry for the wall of text. I hope you feel much better soon xx

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  15. PS I hate David Cameron's bloody ugly mug.

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  16. I basically wanted to say prtty much what Leroy said, she's summed it up so perfectly. I have social anxiety, and have done for a looong time, and it was particularly prevelent during my university years and my work suffered horribly because of it, but I did find CBT which I started in my final year to be very very helpful. It didn't make it dissapear but it has helped me to learn how to cope with it a lot more. (I didn't have to do what you had to do, though, mine was much more talky and trying to figure out my brain and my phsycologist guy drawing awesome pictures of turtles to explain things haha!) Sometimes you need to search around for the right doctors and what not to treat you and if CBT isn't working, then as Leroy said they neeeeeeed to find you an alternative therapy.
    You can get out of this, you don't have to think this is all you will ever be. You have so so so much potential and you will make it! xxx

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  17. Oh, dearheart! I'm so sorry for you - and I empathize with what you're going through, because I struggle with anxiety and social phobia (pretty severe sometimes, I'm just good at hiding it), too. And depression, too from time to time. And then the crippling guilt about feeling like such a burden to your family and friends, and like on the one hand this is a real illness, but on the other hand like it's ridiculous and you should be able to just shake it off. Or, that's been mine experience, and what seems to be at least some of yours, too.

    I find you incredibly beautiful as a person, I love your blogs, I think you're inspiring and adorable, and more fearless and strong than you give yourself credit for. I know I'm a stranger, just some random person on the interwebs, but if you ever want to talk or whatever, please don't hesitate (kjacobs at email dot unc dot edu on fb, or kathyeffingjacobs at yahoo dot com).

    And now for the harder stuff, and I have no business giving advice, except that I was where you are once, and I'm still having trouble, but I'm better now, so maybe what worked for me will help you, too? First of all, cut yourself MAJOR SLACK. Stop beating yourself up over this, stop "shoulding" on yourself, stop guilting. You have a real illness, you come by it honestly, and you are not a liar, cheat, or a malingerer. Be kind to yourself, as much as you can. Second, don't be afraid to lean on your friends and family - they love you, and they want you to be happy and healthy, and I promise that no matter how it feels to you, they don't see you as a burden AT ALL. Third, and this is probably the hardest part, don't give up on getting outside help, keep trying new doctors or therapists. I know that's terribly scary when you've got social phobia (I hate it THE WORST when I have to try several different psychiatrists to find the right one, so nerve-wracking and miserable), and it's especially frustrating when you have to keep trying and keep trying - BUT the right ones are out there, and they will help you, I promise, just don't give up and keep looking. It will totally suck, but once you find the right ones, it will be so worth it.

    I went to three different psychiatrists (which doesn't sound like a lot, but it was sheer hell for me), and the third one finally worked out for me, was a good fit, took me off a bunch of meds and got me on the right stuff, and is open to me not being on meds at all if that works for me. And her consulting manner...I think she's just had a lot of practice with social phobics and people with anxiety, and even on our first appointment, she made me feel more comfortable than I normally would have.

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  18. CBT does help, I think - but the approach you describe sounds like bullshit to me. Maybe good with a phobia like of snakes, but not social phobia. I'm not a doctor, but it just doesn't jive somehow. I don't think exposure "therapy" is what you need in the beginning, it's just going to freak you out. (I mean, me, too.) When I saw a strictly CBT therapist a couple years ago, we focused mainly NOT on getting me to call people up, go out, be more sociable, whatever, but instead on starting by learning some breathing techniques, self-soothing techniques, so that I could calm myself down when I got panicky. (I'm still not expert at it, but it does help.) And once I had those tools in my toolkit, then she was like, "Let's work on you socializing." Otherwise, it's like, "Here, kid who can't swim, let's just toss you in the lake and you'll either figure it out or you'll drown." That's nonsense. The therapist I see now does a mix of CBT and more zen-y stuff, like mindfulness, meditation, relaxation, and that's been great. I've also tried EMDR to work through a severe phobia, and that was awesome - and it's not exposure "therapy," but it's like...figuring out some of the roots of your phobia, and then reprogramming your memories and your brain so that those roots aren't such powerful triggers anymore. And I've recently started acupuncture for anxiety, and it's been unbelievably helpful, too.

    Damn, this is long-winded. Sorry about that, except that I love your blog, I think you're great, and I just want you to not have to go through this shit. I guess my main points are: you're an awesome person, full of worth; your friends and family love you, so let them help you through this, don't feel like a burden; and keep trying different things because there *is* an approach or doctor or whatever out there that *will* work for you, you don't have to suffer with this forever. It may not be easy, but you can come out the other side. You're in my thoughts, lady!

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  19. And if I'd read the comments first, instead of rushing to leave my own, I would've just said, "What Leroy said." Word.

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  20. You're such a valuable person, Lillian. Please let your family and Claire help you with this.
    xx

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  21. I am a random stranger, but you seem like a really sweet person and I hope you are able to find a fix for your situation. Keep your chin up. <3

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  22. I nearly threw up reading this. This is exactly what hapened to me. I
    said "yes I can leave the house if my mum or best friend come and get
    me in their cars" and I lost my money. I did an appeal and that time I
    was more... harsh. I felt like I was lying and cheating but I wasn't
    (and thats totally an effect of all the anxiety, feeling youre not
    worthy of benefits etc) I had worked out they werent actually
    listening to me like you have and I just said "no." and glared. I also
    had my mum with me and she is my.... representative? Do you do
    something similar with your mum or Claire? It was helpful to have my
    mum because she is all... proper grown up and was all assertive and
    said "she never leaves the house ever!"

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  23. Don't worry about feeling like you are exaggerating. The point is, at this moment in time you couldnt possibly find or continue to attend a full time job that pays enough for you to live on, so you fall into the category of people who must recieve assistance. Thats the only thing that really matters to them. Its not just *being a bit nervous* of finding a job its THERE IS NO WAY IN HELL I AM LEAVING THE HOUSE OH MY GOD so its just not feasible. Ain't gonna happen bitches.

    So I really hope you can just go back and ask for a second opinion with mum or Claire. I feel like I might have said this to you before but have you ever asked for mild sedatives? I found no success with various anti anxiety or antidepressant medications. But if I know something is coming up that will trigger panic it helps me alot to have a little pill darling, much the same feeling as alcohol but cheaper and with less stigma (9am martinis anyone?)

    Do you have a nice GP at the moment? That would be handy, just to explain what things need to be done and also they can write a letter about your symptoms.

    This is a piece of fuckery and it must be protested. I really hope its not as painful as tribunals and things, I just had to go into the city with my mum and tell a lady in an office that I couldnt leave the house without mum. Best of luck getting through this, just remember youre really not alone and they have to give you support.

    also I hope you will watch this, I really liked it, so many different peoples stories and it sort of reinforces that theyre all... normal really, its just something that happens to alot of people.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1qQUkVD47g

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1rnupAlBcs

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41sBLINlqhk

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nClgTkud3s

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  24. I did leave you some YT video comments & tweets, but I think everyone has pretty much covered most of what I could say here, so I'll just send you some {virtual non-threatening hugs}. <:-)

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  25. I really hope everything's starting to look just a little bit better for you now :) The advice on here has been excellent so I can't really add anything new. I've only just discovered your (excellent) blog tonight and have been quite engrossed watching your youtube videos :) You're clearly beautiful, funny and intelligent, and I hope one day you will come to realise that too!

    I can't relate exactly to your situation, but during my GCSEs I became really ill with ME for about a year after months in hospital with a serious illness and have experienced the often unsympathetic and distrustful attitude of medical professionals. I remember after leaving hospital and not feeling any better, being asked why I was 'dragging things out' and not enjoying being healthy! For that year it felt endless and that this was how I could expect my life to be from then on, and it seems like your feeling that frustration too. Please, you are young, this is not your life forever and ever. It is just a fraction of your existence and THINGS WILL GET BETTER! Unimaginable now perhaps, but for a long time my parents thought they would be caring for me forever, now I'm in my final yeaer at Uni over 200 miles away. Things are good, they will be for you too.

    Please appeal against the decision regarding your benefits. The reason we have such a system in place in this country is entirely for people in your situation, you are perfectly entitled to it! If you have to appeal to make this realised, then do it. This may be easier said than done I realise, but it will be worth it.

    I'm sorry if I sound overly simplistic in all this, I can't understand what you're going through but I do really hope and believe that it will get better.

    I'll quit blathering now!
    x

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  26. DO not give up. Keep fighting. Have your mom find a lawyer for you or someone who can help you get the support you need. I know exactly what you are going through Lillian. I've went through a similar time in my life. Just know that there are people that care!

    Calvin

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  27. I really hope you will be ok. I too feel social anxiety. I rush out of talking to people. I've been asked if I'm okay and I quickly say yes so that people will stop talking to me even if I'm not alright. I rush out of conversation or interacting with people. I can't make any new friends or keep my old ones. I start shaking when someone approaches me and even when I'm talking to someone on the phone that isn't family. Sometimes I will be shaking so badly that people will ask me if I'm cold. The reason I have brought up my issues is because I want you to know that you are not alone. Sometimes it's good to know that. I will be wishing for you to have the best.

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  28. You poor, sweet thing. I read this and was almost in tears with empathy, because my brother has the same problem. He's getting better now, finally, but for years, he never left the house at all. He basically imprisoned himself in one room of our house, and it was heartbreaking watching him go from a shy child, to a teenager who absolutely couldn't cope with being around anyone at all.

    Never listen to anyone who makes you feel like your problems are imaginary, or invalid. A mental sickness is just as real as a physical sickness - because it IS! It's a problem of your brain chemistry, and you should no more feel bad or self-conscious about it than you should about...if you had a faulty kidney, or you were sick.

    Having watched my brother over the last few months, I believe you can get better. No matter how terrible things are, there will be a day that comes for you, like the one that came for him, that's a turning point. Things will change. Something will click. And you'll be on the road that takes you to safety.

    You're in my prayers. No one should have to feel this way. The world is scary and ugly, but there are also so many people full of love and understanding, who would help you if they knew you needed help. Be safe and keep hoping.

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  29. I'm going through a lot of the same things too, sadly ..

    I'm still living with my parents (being a teenager) and my mum has helped me through a lot of this. First and foremost, she told me that "feelings aren't pathetic." This is because I keep telling myself out loud that I AM pathetic, that it's my fault that I can't handle people, and it's my fault that I have an over-sensitive complex.

    Please, do get better. *hugs*

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