Here we go, round two on National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week! If you missed round one, it’s here. If you wanted to know more about the awareness week, you can click the link in #29. I love this meme because it is spreading awareness of the illnesses that surround all of us, often without us knowing. Invisible illnesses are so often misunderstood because they are invisible. Let’s bring them to light! If you suffer from a chronic invisible illness, do the meme yourself or write another post about it, and link to it in the comments. I’d love to read about your journey!
1. The illness I live with is: Social Anxiety Disorder (SAnD). An anxiety disorder in which a person has an excessive and unreasonable fear of social situations. Anxiety (intense nervousness) and self-consciousness arise from a fear of being closely watched, judged, and criticized by others. The anxiety can build into a panic attack. In many cases, the person is aware that the fear is unreasonable, yet is unable to overcome it.
2. I was diagnosed with it in the year: 2009
3. But I had symptoms since: 2003 (at least)
4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is: realizing I just don’t enjoy parties with lots of strangers. Making sure I go out with friends or my hubby so I can get through the event.
5. Most people assume: that I’m just shy, or that I’m just being stubborn when I don’t want to do something in a social situation. There are times when I am working so hard to hold it together I honestly can’t smile for a picture without devolving into an anxiety attack.
6. The hardest part about mornings are: getting going when I know I have to go out. I tend to passively stall because I get anxious about leaving the house.
7. My favorite medical TV show is: House. I love the sarcasm, even if the medicine is crazy.
8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is: my computer. I can stay connected with people and do business via e-mail, without having to use the phone or meet in person as often. The phone makes me very anxious.
9. The hardest part about nights are: when I’m still amped up from anxiety from a situation I was in, and I can’t drop it to sleep. I will often obsess over every statement I made, every statement they made, what it could possibly have meant, how it might indicate they didn’t like me, etc., and be unable to shut it off.
10. Each day I take _1_ pills & vitamins. (No comments, please) I now take a multi-vitamin. They don’t help but they don’t hurt. I am not willing to take on the side-effects of anti-anxiety meds at this point in time, and I hate taking pills.
11. Regarding alternative treatments I: am in therapy, and doing what I can to learn how to regroup and keep myself from having panic attacks. I also use my dog as a psychiatric service dog. I leave the house much more often and easily since I can take him with me. When I feel a panic attack coming on, he gives me an excuse to leave and regroup, so I don’t embarrass myself. He helps me recenter by providing pressure, and letting me stroke and refocus on him. If I’m starting to lose it, he licks my face aggressively until I snap out of it and regain control.
12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: visible. No doubt. People believe you when your illness is visible.
13. Regarding working and career: I have found that I can work with people (and enjoy it!) when there are clearly defined roles. So I enjoy teaching, because I am the teacher and they are the student, and we interact in that framework. I can also enjoy being at work with people I know well; it can be quite stressful at times, but in general I can do that OK.
14. People would be surprised to know: I really want to be social. I do. I hate sitting at home alone all the time. But it is so exhausting to go out and spend time with people! I have to really feel a connection to you to make it worth the enormous energy expenditure it is to hang out.
15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been: I can’t always stay in control (of myself/my emotions). I used to have very good control, so that is hard for me.
16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: Run my own small business successfully for over a year (and still going strong-ish)!
17. The commercials about my illness: There are none. This is not a well-known disorder. The commercials you do see for anxiety-type meds are somewhat frustrating because they make it look like 1) there is a quick fix and 2) it’s a temporary thing everyone goes through sometimes, not a chronic condition for many
18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: going to the mall and not obsessing over what every person who passes me is thinking about how I stand/walk/talk/gesture/look/etc.
19. It was really hard to have to give up: control.
20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: blogging. Online support rocks.
21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: spend the day hanging out with my bestest bud Erica with no stress whatsoever! I don’t know if she’d recognize me! :-)
22. My illness has taught me: how important real friendship is. Those who put up with my crazy are the best out there! And I am so hard on picking my friends, because they have to be worth it. As horrible as I feel saying that.
23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is: “I have a (cousin/friend/sister/other relation) here who is shy.” Again, it’s not just shyness. The difference between an illness and what everyone else goes through is significant.
24. But I love it when people: accept me for what I am. Don’t question when I need to leave for a bit. Don’t get upset if I can’t spend a whole weekend (or sometimes even evening) hanging out. Are patient with me when I’m obsessing about random stranger’s possible opinions. Those people rock!
25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is: “No one cares what you’re doing!” -countless friends
26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them: Really, no one cares! Just keep repeating it!
27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: how I almost don’t want to learn to cope, because the better I do the less likely people are to believe me that I am sick! The disbelieving looks get old. Just because I have learned to adapt and do necessary things in life doesn’t mean they are no big deal for me like they are for other people! A blind person can learn to organize their closet, but that doesn’t mean it’s as easy a job as it is for a sighted person!
28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was: not insisting I join in when I was on the verge of a breakdown.
29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because: if these invisible illnesses are out in the public mind, maybe we won’t find them so shameful anymore or view them as just weaknesses. We can’t accept something until we understand it!
30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel: Hopeful. That understanding will spread.
Now join in! Put the link to your post in the comments!