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Over the past year, I've worked for maybe a total of...11 and a half weeks or so, divided up into five jobs. Prior to my being in the working world (if you can even call my 11 weeks that) I struggled through school, eventually dropping out and getting my GED, and then attempting college only to not attend classes and drop out after 2 months.I can't take anything I perceive to be criticism, and while from a logical perspective I understand that if nobody tells me how I can improve or anything like that, I'm never going to get better. But even a gentle nudge and a small demonstration can leave me fighting back tears. My therapist and I have been exploring this for awhile now. I'm really at my wits end. I've tried different fields of work, different schedules, different amounts of hours... My longest job was 5 weeks, but it was only 15/hrs a week, so really not beneficiary on a financial end of things. 

I'm only 19 years old, and so obviously SSDI is out of the question. My therapist thinks applying for SSI would be a waste of time, because I have such little work history. I've been in and out of treatment for a decade now (mostly in), and I would think with my extensive school records and such that perhaps I would have a tiny shot if I had enough people on my side to support my case.

I struggle with getting majorly depressed when I'm not working, I feel unproductive and like a failure. But when I am working I feel extremely anxious and stressed and it consumes my life until I shut down.

I just can't seem to make progress on any part of my life- professional, mental, social... 
I feel really inadequate and immature. I know it's not good to make comparisons, but my friends all have plenty of stressors in their lives and manage to hold down steady jobs (and in some cases also go to school full-time) including those who have MIs. 

I'm tired of doing things that don't work. I need some other avenue. Does anyone have any similar experiences, and if so, how did/are you deal with it/ get through it? Any insight? I can't live at home forever (and I wouldn't want to!)

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Maybe you are not ready yet for a job and should work on your recovery for a while first.  Or you should start off with volunteer work for a while.

 

I think that if you do want to continue to try to hold down a job in the near future, you should start off with not many hours.  I know you said you've tried that, but still, I think it would be better to start off slowly.  

 

Remember, also, that almost all jobs are especially stressful when you first start, because you aren't used to it and don't really know what you're doing.  It can take several months before you start to feel like you've got the hang of things, and things come more easily.

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I had a job, and I was pretty good at it most of the time, but some days I was probably completely awful. I worked in a respite centre and I couldn't really afford to have bad days. It was a 24/7 manned house, so lots of stupid time shifts. Don't feel awful about yourself you have an illness. I think you should ask yourself what you want from working (beside the obvious $$$), what are you passionate about, what are you good at? I think diving into full time work would be harsh to you, maybe even start of with some volunteering? Theres a lot less pressure, and they're more flexible than paid jobs.

 

I understand the feeling depressed when not working. I got fired from my job and it feels awful, I don't do well with too much time with my thoughts. I'm doing so tutoring jobs and it makes me feel a lot more productive, but it's not overwhelming because it's only a few hours, and theres space in between. I'm doing better now, I had to work on accepting my limitations and realising that life doesn't always work out in a linear line, and that's okay.

 

Stressing yourself out with what you perceive others are doing is a sure fire way to feed the depression and take the focus away from you, where it really needs to be. They are not you, and you are not them. Every one has strengths and worth and you shouldn't feel inferior because you don't work. I hate that the idea of work being of high value is perpetuated, it's not true and it quickly turns to a game in which people try to one up others. Don't get into it, you don't need the stress. 

 

I hope you find something you love soon.

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I've been exploring options, and my interests, and things like that... and really... my reaction to working is very similar to like, my reaction to spiders. Actually, I remember when I went to Disney when I was young, around ten years old. At first I was really excited to go on this indoor drop-ride, Tower of Terror. But as we got closer and closer to getting on the ride, I kept getting more and more scared, and eventually I was begging not to go and my parents had me go on anyway, since we'd waited so long. I remember how scared I was that I basically screamed the whole time and clamped my eyes shut, and had to be more or less carried off the ride when it was over, and once it was over I was still freaking out about it.  That's basically my reaction to working. When I first get a job, I get excited, but it just goes downhill from there and I never really get a reprieve from it until several weeks of not working.

I don't know if it's actually anxiety, or if it is a fear... but whatever it was it's way irrational because I've never had any jobs that would be considered particularly stressful.

As far as volunteering goes, I actually was volunteering for about two months last spring, steadily two-three days a week. I was helping out at a therapeutic riding center for physically disabled children, and those with various forms of autism. It was pretty great, but I felt very obligated to be there whenever they needed me, and felt really bad about having to leave because I took on a full-time job. 

My parents like to say they support me fully and whatnot, but they've been really hurtful and invalidating in the past, and even if I don't always see it, they have been abusive, especially on the verbal/emotional spectrum of things. I'm really walking on thin ice with my living situation, back in August they had given me until the end of April to find another place to live because they felt that kicking me out would give me a push to 'get better' and 'be an adult', but then decided a few weeks before their deadline that they weren't going to follow through, so they put me through almost 8 months of hell with trying to find a way to support myself and find a place to live (to no avail) for more or less no reason.

If anything, it really set me back in my treatment and recovery, because I was doing a bit better until they sprung that one on me. Believe me, if I had an alternative to continuing living at home, I would take it.

I'm trying to take each day as it comes, but I just spoke to my mother tonight about my job issues and how I'm feeling, and at the end of it all, she basically said "Well, if you really can't see yourself able to work a steady job, I would push your doctors into getting you on a wait list for a group home, because you can't live here forever..." Which I understand is valid, my parents can't support me forever, they shouldn't have to, and eventually they won't be able to. But I've already tried the group home route, and from what my therapist is telling me, he can't even get me on a wait list, because all the ones in my area specialize in areas that don't apply to me. She knows this. I explored this route at length when I thought I was going to be homeless. And the tone of voice she took... It's hurtful that she still seems to think that I'm lazy and unmotivated, and that I could somehow ~will~ everything away if only I pushed myself harder, especially because she's on permanent disability due to Bipolar Schizoaffective. You would think she'd be a bit more understanding!

 

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Hi Frolic, 

 

I can't take anything I perceive to be criticism, and while from a logical perspective I understand that if nobody tells me how I can improve or anything like that, I'm never going to get better. But even a gentle nudge and a small demonstration can leave me fighting back tears.

 

I think it would be beneficial for you to start volunteering again. It helps build self-confidence which could reduce that anxiety you feel. It may also be best for you to find independent work for now. I am unsure of your qualifications but some examples are walking dogs, babysitting, tutoring, music lessons and refereeing. Forcing yourself into jobs which will inevitably not work out will only add to your distress and fear.

 

As for your family, would they be open to being more involved in your treatment? There is the option of having your parents participate in therapy sessions. It would help them be more understanding of your situation and guide them to be better support.

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Hi Frolic,

 

Are you familiar with Vocational Rehabilitation, also called VocRehab or VR? Each state in the US has a VR program which is designed to help people in your situation find and maintain employment. I can't speak to the quality of services in New Jersey, but it looks like they even have a transitions program which specializes in working with recent high school graduates with disabilities.

 

Your Dx would almost certainly qualify you for services, and you could work with professionals who specialize in helping you find and maintain work. I know VR often takes steps, like starting off with volunteering, or can help find places that are a better match for you, like somewhere where you wouldn't face as much criticism.  Might at least be worth a shot.

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Thanks for the suggestions. A little over a  year ago, through the suggestion of the counselors at an IOP program I was in, I contacted VR and they basically said anything they could offer me, I would have to pay for out-of-pocket as I am still considered a dependent until I turn 24, regardless of my personal income or living situation, and that my parents' income is too high for the financial end of things (such as testing they wanted done or schooling). 

When I was still a minor, I had all of my therapy and pdoc appointments through the local clinic, as nobody in my area really deals with juveniles or adolescents under our insurance, and my family was very involved with those. I did that for three years with no results, and my therapist and pdoc were both convinced there was nothing seriously 'wrong' with me, and it was just teenage hormones, rebellion, and some mild depression and anxiety, and told my parents as much. My parents decided to stop setting up appointments and such, saying if it hadn't helped me over the past three years, it wasn't going to.

About 8 months later, I was missing a lot of school and was begging them to find a way for me to see a therapist and pdoc again, get me on a waiting list. They refused, and suggested I visit the school counselors (School-Based Youth Services) for awhile to see if they could help. I thought that I would go for awhile, and they would suggest to my parents I seek outside help. I'm not sure if it was just my counselor who didn't operate this way, or the whole system, but regardless, I went weekly for a few months, and then she suggested we do "family" therapy, after school. My parents balked at the idea, but being it was their suggestion I visit her in the first place went along with it for a month or two. It was a horrible experience. I felt very ganged up on, and rather than getting us to communicate more effectively, it seemed as if a lot of 'blame' for things was placed on me, and that my counselor chose a side.

I've re-explored the option with my current therapist, and he's been fine with the idea of bringing my family in every once in awhile, but my family is not. My dad works 70/hr weeks so he doesn't have the time (and says that if it didn't help before, it won't help now, so it would be a waste), and my Mom just won't do it if my Dad isn't involved. 

I will see about volunteering again, though, and what forms of self-employment would work out for me. I wouldn't keep trying to take on these jobs, but my near-constant unemployment is a huge point of contention with my parents (and extended family, for that matter). 

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I'm sorry Frolic...people who haven't walked in your shoes can't get it and probably never will. The most you can do is just work on yourself.

I've been where you are...I dropped out of college after a stellar HS career. I had reasons why but it really came down to my MI.

Maybe you could try an internship in a field that interests you.  Alot of companies hire interns for the summer. It isn't as bad as you might think if you find the right company...We paid our interns and they didn't have a ton of work to do. Most people are kind and understanding that this is a 'first job' kinda deal when you're interning and will give you some slack...

In the meantime, til you're ready to try something outside the house, you can try volunteering for your family...take the grandparents to dr's appointments, handle the laundry, something to feel like you're contributing. I get it--having them beat you over the head with your failings doesn't help you succeed--been there done that myself...

Oh, you know too, I thought you could volunteer at the library! They have story-time for kids and you could read them stories if that's your thing...or you could stick to just helping file books and waiting on patrons. Just a thought :)

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Hi

 

Just that you are trying even though you are ill is inspiring to me.

 

it sounds like you are yet to find your niche and iam too, it's not easy especially if you don't have an understanding employer,

 

 

volunteering can be a good thing, getting experience, a reference and a chance to see if it is for you

 

I wish you luck in your endeavours,.

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SSI is independent of your work, and is based on whether or not you have a disability that prevents you from life activities. I'm not quite sure what your tdoc means by saying that you have such little work history. Unless they think it is too hard to get because you haven't failed at work enough times yet... or something.

 

SSI could be a pathway to independent living. Granted, you would be living in poverty, but it would potentially open you up to be able to access voc rehab if you lived independently and your parents weren't claiming you as a dependent on their taxes. This might make your life harder in other ways, but could be worth checking into.

 

However, if your living situation is pretty stable, why not take the gift of the time that you have to make your own "voc rehab program"?

 

Set small, achievable goals that move toward what you want. Your tdoc could probably help a lot with this.

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I can't hold down a job. I get bored, or frustrated, I usually end up getting fired.  It sucks. Right now I'm not able to work due to a shoulder injury, which requires surgery, so I get the next 6 months or so off. I'm on provincial disability (Canadian) and I can still work part time if I want. 

 

At 19, you're still young. Can you take free courses at adult education schools? (Not colleges or universities, some schools have night courses that are very cheap, or free, and they can help a lot) Are there any mental health groups that help people get into working and holding down jobs and such? We have free programs that allow you to meet with counselors and others to work on resumes, interview skills, coping mechanisms, etc.

 

I used to volunteer for a therapeutic riding program as well, for children and adults of different disabilities and such. I had a lot of fun, but they moved to an area that is about an hours drive from where I live, so it's out of the picture now. Volunteering is a fantastic way to make your resume look better and gain experience. You aren't as obligated as a volunteer as you would be as an employee, it's also a great way to meet people. Trust me on this, even if you gave up a little bit of time to help out, they're still grateful for it! 

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Oh boy can I relate to this.

During my teens and early 20's my anxiety was so bad I could not hold down a job at all. Sometimes I would get a new job, get to work and not be able to get out of my car. It was horrible and embarrassing.

I'm on a mobile device so I can't see what meds (if any) you are on. Do you take anything for anxiety?

Just wanted to let you know that I went through, and still do to a degree, what your experiencing. The only thing that helped me was meds. I went to therapy and it didn't help. But my meds have made it so that I can get out there and do what I wanted to do. But it took me years to even go to a Dr and get help.

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I filed for SSI disability in 2011 and got it in 2012. I am turning 21 in september, and I have never had a real job. But I have had plenty of volunteer opportunities and in the beginning I always have a crippling fear and sometimes it goes away. Sometimes it just doesn't, depending on what you do, idk. I am in a position right now where I acquired an allyship with a non-profit and they assigned me too many hours (10-20 per week) and no matter how many hours I try to wittle it down to I figure that I am just bailing out. Which I have already, this entire weekend. I couldn't even get out of bed saturday morning because I had a panic attack over work and just felt bad all day about it. Just gross overall.

 

But unlike you I am in college. I try to maintain a high standard for my academics and have my entire life despite MI but I haven't been able to do both..yet? I just happen to be really good at writing papers and editing things so maybe thats what I should make my job. Find something you're good at. I second adult school classes. Or even online classes from your local community college. 

 

Also really think about it. You don't have to just work at target or macys to get by. You can do other things in the arts or straight up physical labor like working on a small farm etc

 

We are young the options are endless even with MI. And It sounds like you have a pretty supportive tdoc, so explore creative options with them, too.

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I really appreciate the input and advice from everyone. It's given me quite a bit to think about. I would prefer (as I'm sure 99% of people would) to be able to find someway to support myself without government assistance. I am privileged in that I have a roof over my head and food on the table, even if it does come at the cost of dealing with my family.

 

SSI is independent of your work, and is based on whether or not you have a disability that prevents you from life activities. I'm not quite sure what your tdoc means by saying that you have such little work history. Unless they think it is too hard to get because you haven't failed at work enough times yet... or something.

 

Yeah, my tdoc thinks I haven't failed enough times at working, and so I would immediately be turned down.  As far as small goals, I'm going to go to the store with my mother tomorrow. I know the longer I try and shelter myself, the harder it's going to be to get back out in the world. I've only been in for five days now, but knowing me if I let it continue it'll turn into 5 weeks without leaving the house, and just keep going. 
 

 

I'm on a mobile device so I can't see what meds (if any) you are on. Do you take anything for anxiety?
Just wanted to let you know that I went through, and still do to a degree, what your experiencing. 

 

 

My current meds are 20mg Lexapro, 15mg Abilify, 150mg Lamictal, and 150mg Nuvigil (as well as 100mcg Levoxyl for low-thyroid). I've been on this combo for a year now with no changes (it's not working). A prior doctor of mine wanted to prescribe me Xanax but at the time I was wary for a few reasons. My mother is a recovered addict and alcoholism runs in my family. I was also, at the time, very depressed and was self-harming a lot, so for those reasons I declined the prescription for fear I would abuse it or worse. 

 

Also really think about it. You don't have to just work at target or macys to get by. You can do other things in the arts or straight up physical labor like working on a small farm etc

 

We are young the options are endless even with MI. And It sounds like you have a pretty supportive tdoc, so explore creative options with them, too.

 

It's hard because I've never been able to figure out what it is I want to even do, if I had the ability. There are plenty of things that interest me, but... I don't know. Nothing seems practical. I keep trying to soul-search and try different things out, but nothing really sticks. I like the idea of being my own boss, or having a lot of freedom with my work, but at the same time, I find it very hard to get things done on my own 70% of the time without a given direction. I like to keep busy at work, but I quickly feel anxious, stressed, and overwhelmed. When work is slow, I find myself staring at the clock longing to just go home. A lot of the time I just feel really immature, and like I need to just give myself a kick in the ass and grow up.

I haven't really found anything I'm passionate about that I can make a career out of, and it seems like while I'm dealing with MI, I'm not going to be able to find it. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Wow, your mother.  What a piece of work.  Her lack of empathy--that really makes me angry.  And the whole "lazy" and "unmotivated" thing.  That is the worst.  If anything, many of us with anxiety disorders have had to seek out more motivation, exert more energy than the functional person--just to get through the day--but with terrible outcomes.  And doing this over and over again, in the face of such hopeless, that is the epitome of motivation.  

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wow I so identify with your story. Im glad wooster answered about the ssi. actually the more work history you have the less likely it is that you will get ssi...so im not sure why your tdoc said that unless its because he doesnt want you to give up yet in which case I would say talk to your pdoc and see what his take on it is. the ssi people will be looking at his opinion the most. atleast they are in my situation.

I agree with everyone that vulenteering could be good but if your actually looking at homelessness than ssi is a valid option.

I know how absolutely terrifying it is to be an adult and feel like you cant "make it" in the real world and how degrading it can feel and im sorry your going through it too

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  • 6 months later...

I haven't ever been successfully able to hold a job either. In fact, I'm sitting at the desk of the job I'm surely soon to be losing right now. I started working here part time, then one of the regular full time girls went out for maternity leave for a while, and they needed me to begin coming in full time. The job is super easy, requires very little skill and isn't even really that stressful, but the constant interaction with customers and co-workers during the weekday hours really took a toll on me, with regards to my social anxiety. I was able to hold out and not screw things up too badly long enough for the full time girl to get back from maternity leave, but I since have had to speak with my manager and ask that she please cut me back to weekend hours only. The weekend hours here are far more tame, and require less social interaction with others, but I still feel very smothered while I'm here - even if nobody's around me. I have been through 5 jobs in the past 2 years. I have to force myself to try to adapt for so long and then I finally can't take it anymore and will either stop showing up for work or start coming up with justifiable reasons in my mind to leave that aren't typically good enough excuses for anyone else.

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I have this problem also. I gave up work to have my kids so many years ago and now I can't go back. I have trouble showing up for a hairdressers appointment or a doctors visit, I can't imagine how I would ever go having to actually turn up to be somewhere for 5 hours or 8 hours or 12. I hate it. It makes me feel useless in life and like a drain on my husband who supports all of us. I'd be lying if I said it hadn't caused an argument (or 10).

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I have this problem also. I gave up work to have my kids so many years ago and now I can't go back. I have trouble showing up for a hairdressers appointment or a doctors visit, I can't imagine how I would ever go having to actually turn up to be somewhere for 5 hours or 8 hours or 12. I hate it. It makes me feel useless in life and like a drain on my husband who supports all of us. I'd be lying if I said it hadn't caused an argument (or 10).

 

 

I feel the same. My husband has been through so much trying to keep us supported and at the same time, trying to understand me -- even if it's impossible for him to ever fully understand where I'm coming from. It's interesting to me that you brought up the trouble you have experienced going to hair appointments and doctor visits. I struggle with things of that nature on a daily basis as well. Being in that environment or being at work all day in one place, with one group of people that I personally have nothing in common with and can only relate to on a work-related level (barely) is the most complicated thing. I spend the majority of the 8 hours I'm here forcing smiles and small talk that I have no interest in and because it isn't genuine, it becomes severely awkward... at least from my internal perspective. I'm an intelligent person who, when in the company of the right complimentary people, can really tell you how I feel and not have any boundaries in expressing myself as the character that I am in those moments. However, in a workplace setting, or even around family members that I don't see very often, my brain becomes murky and I begin to panic. That feeling of not being able to complete a thought or contribute to the conversation because you're so nervous is one that I don't believe many people understand. How can I expect them to? I don't understand what they're feeling or thinking. Ever.

 

You're not on your own,

Sam

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I have this problem also. I gave up work to have my kids so many years ago and now I can't go back. I have trouble showing up for a hairdressers appointment or a doctors visit, I can't imagine how I would ever go having to actually turn up to be somewhere for 5 hours or 8 hours or 12. I hate it. It makes me feel useless in life and like a drain on my husband who supports all of us. I'd be lying if I said it hadn't caused an argument (or 10).

 

 

I feel the same. My husband has been through so much trying to keep us supported and at the same time, trying to understand me -- even if it's impossible for him to ever fully understand where I'm coming from. It's interesting to me that you brought up the trouble you have experienced going to hair appointments and doctor visits. I struggle with things of that nature on a daily basis as well. Being in that environment or being at work all day in one place, with one group of people that I personally have nothing in common with and can only relate to on a work-related level (barely) is the most complicated thing. I spend the majority of the 8 hours I'm here forcing smiles and small talk that I have no interest in and because it isn't genuine, it becomes severely awkward... at least from my internal perspective. I'm an intelligent person who, when in the company of the right complimentary people, can really tell you how I feel and not have any boundaries in expressing myself as the character that I am in those moments. However, in a workplace setting, or even around family members that I don't see very often, my brain becomes murky and I begin to panic. That feeling of not being able to complete a thought or contribute to the conversation because you're so nervous is one that I don't believe many people understand. How can I expect them to? I don't understand what they're feeling or thinking. Ever.

 

You're not on your own,

Sam

 

Thank you Sam :)

For me, not all, but a lot of my anxiety surrounding work is related to having IBS. My bad tummy days are more often than not and as soon as I start to panic, the first place I feel symptoms is in the stomach. I have all kinds of phobias and fears surrounding odd things like the use of public toilets or even just toilets that aren't my own.

I also get the whole not having anything to say thing though.Small talk is difficult for me. Even on the forum I'll write something, delete it, write it again, edit it, post it, edit it. If only real life conversations came with an edit button I'm sure I'd be a whole lot better!

Once the interaction is over I find myelf replaying all conversations I have with people in my head, worrying about whether or not I've said something stupid, if I've offended them. I'll usually convince myself I've said something to offend them and they don't like me. Then next time I see them it's always fine or if I do apologize they usually don't know what it is I'm talking about, ugh.

I'm sorry you battle this too :(

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      I don't have any children and get triggered every time I see photos of other people's kids (literally everyone I know my age has kids now). I know that it's not a given that all families are happy or one's kids will take care of you in old age, but it's just the thought of having a family around! My parents are approaching late 70's and they live very far away, cannot travel. I have no other close family (or even close friends) that I can really depend on.
      Anyone know how to remedy these anxious thoughts? One of my biggest fears is being alone in old age, with increased health issues, and being totally isolated/alone in despair. I'd rather die young.
    • By Adolf
      "Best" as in being effective with fewer side effects. Which ones were the best for you? Which ones did you take? What condition(s) did you treat? What side effects did you get? How did the antipsychotics compare to "conventional" antidepressants?
      Can antipsychotics be an alternative to "conventional" antidepressants? What are the risks? What are the benefits? Do they make you a tomato with time? Psychiatrists prescribe them more often in recent times, it seems.
    • By kitties
      Hi, I am kitties.  I am a newbie here, but not to illness.  I have chronic pain 24/7 in my back and neck.
      Mentally....here are my diagnoses (got a second and third opinion....all objective and a consensus of the exact same diagnoses.)
      Bipolar 1 with psychosis, extreme, treatment resistant, rapid cycling.   Mixed features predominant.  Never had a remission to date...just a couple of weeks with my bipolar disorder.  “Normal” for a few weeks a couple of times per year.  No anxiety remission.
      OCD, GAD, Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety disorder, PTSD...I think that is everything.   Oh, I am significantly affected by a very strong dose of agoraphobia stemming from my PTSD and Panic Disorder.
      I have a great psychiatrist and I e been in treatment with him a since 2006.  I had a great therapist that had a co-transference issue and I ultimately ended my therapy with him. I have tried four therapists since firing the aforementioned therapist - but I unfortunately have lost faith in the process.
      I am a night owl by nature and it has really ramped up since being declared disabled in 2009/SSDI/cannot work.  I struggle with having a “routine,” although I have read that one with bipolar disorder tends to be more stable with a routine.  I’m easily overstimulated so I like the quiet and darkness..
      I know I have an eating disorder (anorexia, restricting type), but I politely yet firmly said I have had “eating issues” but I have no desire to “go there.”  My psychiatrist respects that although I am subject to a monthly weigh-in and I self-manage it.  
      I am currently relapsing right now, unfortunately. But, I have had it for so many years that I know at what weight my body and mind take a turn for the worst.  And I have to rein it back in and stop losing (meaning eat more).  I’ll never seek treatment as the recovery model, IMO, is ridiculous.  Kudos to those that have been able to “recover.”
      I take a bunch of meds, mainly psych meds  
      I like to read, Enjoy spending time with my boyfriend.  Internet.  I like learning things, I am currently and reading up on world history (pre-USA).  I keep up with psychology and sociology.
      Thanks for reading if you made it this far.
       
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