The other day, as I was leaving my parents house, my father spoke to me. He didn’t say much as usual.”Did you go like you were supposed to?” I asked him “I’m sorry. What did you say?” He asked again, “Did you go to the medical exam for that Voc-Rehab stuff?” My reply was a simple and soft “No, I couldn’t”. He replied with a “Why not? I thought your mom loaned you money for gas for that.” My answer was an answer of shame and embarrassment. “I couldn’t make myself go” I took the money my mother had loaned me out of my pocket and gave it to him. I asked him, “Could you give that back to her? I didn’t use any of it.” As soon as I had said this I walked out of the house with my head hung low in shame.

Now, a short back story….. I had an on the job injury in 2015. I haven’s worked since then. Over the course of this time, I have applied every where and have had only a few interviews. Of course, the interview goes all wrong when I have to explain the reason for leaving my last employer was “medical”. Things have gotten worse in the anxiety department and it makes it extremely hard to go out. I was finally talked into seeking state funded vocational rehabilitation. I went to the initial application interview. I suffered the whole time. My back was killing me – Herniated discs + uncomfortable chair = Sciatica from Hell. Burning, itching, shooting pains. I finally made it through and within a few days I was scheduled for a medical exam for my back. Needless to say, anxiety dictated that I would not be attending this appointment. Staying cramped in a vehicle driving in heavy traffic to go somewhere to be examined by some one I do not know and to be surrounded by other people I don’t know staring at me – Not my idea of a good time.

People who have not experienced depression, anxiety and panic attacks have no idea what it’s like. I haven’t met any one yet who can understand my explanations. I have my mother to talk to. She, above all others, should understand. She works in the mental health field and deals with similar “problems” every day. My wife tries to understand me but has no idea how to deal with me. My father doesn’t have a clue. We don’t speak much as it is but after I started have problems with my anxiety, we spoke even less. He doesn’t have any idea what to say or how to say it. It’s called “tact”.

Judgement is the last thing I need. That is one of the things that I’m afraid of. I have had anxiety attacks, panic attacks, and lower back attacks. All of which I don’t want anyone to see. I can’t look anyone in the eyes. I have a very hard time going to the grocery store. For that matter, I have a hard time leaving the safety zone that surrounds me at the moment. If my own family cannot understand me, how will any one else? That is one of the things I need as a sufferer of anxiety. Support,understanding, and patience. Instead I get, “I can’t deal with you like this”, “You just have to do it”, “Why not”. With things like this, I hear, “I can’t deal with YOU”, “I’m going to leave YOU”, “Stop being stupid and just do it”, Why not? What’s wrong with you?”. These are just a few things I feel that affect me. Why” a lack of Support, understanding and patience.

I know my family supports me but there is a difference in supporting and understanding. So my answer, No, my request to you id you know some one with depression, anxiety disorder or panic disorder is this: TELL THEM (don’t assume they know because we don’t!) that you are there for them.  Admit you don’t understand them but you are there to support them when they need it. Do NOT pretend to understand. This often makes me feel patronized and foolish. Educate yourself on the subject for you loved ones. They already feel bad enough living with this condition. Don’t make it worse by understating the symptoms. They are real. People living with this condition are not lazy, stupid, faking it, or any other things you might say. We are scared, strong, weak, brave, smart, loving, sensitive and so much more.

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