These seven little words have recently become the most aggravating that could possibly be spoken to me. I hear it from friends, acquaintances, even family members. Normally, it wouldn’t bother me to be asked this question, because I have always prided myself in holding down jobs and working hard. But now that the circumstances have changed, I can’t stand this simple question.
A few months ago I was diagnosed with GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) and social anxiety disorder. For those of you don’t know much about these, it essentially means that it’s difficult for me to go out in public, converse with others, and/or cope with stress. When asked, I can recall having symptoms of these disorders for years, characterized by tightness in my chest and difficulty breathing, but it was only recently that I started getting panicky while standing in line at the mall, sitting at my desk at work, and even driving. I went to the doctor and left feeling relieved that what I had been going through wasn’t all in my head. At the same time, though, the diagnosis really put a halt to not only my social life, but my work life as well.
I ended up quitting my job as a receptionist, because it was impossible for me to spend nine hours a day socializing with others in my office and on the phone. I took all online classes this semester also, because I was having panic attacks from sitting in class. I’ve been taking medication for about two months now, but it seems like my progress has been slow, if not nonexistent. You can’t imagine (or maybe you can) how disheartening it is to not even feel confident enough to drive to the grocery store by yourself.
So, needless to say, it is exhausting and frustrating to be constantly asked by friends when or if I’m getting a job. I understand that it’s hard for them to empathize with my situation, because none of them have to deal with it, but is it too much to ask for a little sympathy? Yes, I know you are all doing well with your careers while I’m just trying to make it through the day. Yes, I realize you want to go out to dinner, but have to settle for staying home instead. Yes, I know you’re secretly thinking that I’ve become a buzzkill in the recent months. But I’m working on it, and I want to get better, and “So, have you found a job yet?” isn’t helping.
Have any of you gone through anxiety or a similar disorder like this? If so, please share.