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ADHD & Social Anxiety - and SSA Disability
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ADHD & Social Anxiety - and SSA Disability

How can I find a psychiatrist and/or counselor who knows both ADD in adult women, and Social Anxiety Disorder well enough to help a person who suffers from both to get through the Social Security Disability process?

This will be in two parts because I exceeded the maximum length.

I have severe ADD (no hyperactivity) and Social Anxiety, but I'm an adult, and over the years I learned to mask these things and make excuses for my behavior, which most people bought (I didn't even know my issues had names until 10 or 20 years ago, so excuses were automatic).  Anyway, I have only ever found one counselor who understood the SA, and few who understood ADD, and NONE who understands the lethal combination. Like right now, there are probably people reading this thinking "she can't have ADD that bad or she couldn't have written that," but they have no idea that a single post like this will take me hours to write, edit, etc. while my brain flits around like moth in a jelly jar.

I am disabled, without a doubt. I haven't worked in 7 years, and I only had intermittent and sporadic work even then.  The longest I've ever had a job was a year, and there were only two of those in my entire life. I can't communicate well with people, get things done in anything like a timely fashion, meet deadlines, keep things organized, remember things, ask questions, defend myself, explain myself, follow steps, pay attention well enough not to make weird mistakes, etc.  So I don't do any job very well; most I do very badly, and to make matters worse, I can't communicate with my coworkers or boss, so I can't ask questions when I need to, or speak up for myself, etc. Yet, because of the impulsiveness of the ADD, when I'm nervous I can't keep my stupid mouth from running on and on, and I'm ALWAYS nervous, so no one ever thinks I'm "shy" to the point of being paralyzed, and I'll bet most wouldn't believe it if I told them (which I could never do). My anxiety around people in situations like this is so intense that I'm physically sick.  My neck gets so stiff I can't properly turn my head, I can't make eye contact (but I do manage to look behind or beside them a lot, which I think gets me by), I can't recall words well enough to put together a sensible sentence, my mouth is dry, my eyes burn, sometimes in really bad situations into which I force myself, my intestines will send me running for the bathroom (horrible for anyone, I'm sure), and worst of all (I think), with prolonged exposure to this environment, my body retaliates by knocking me down with the most excruciating headaches imaginable. They don't seem to be migraines because no migraine medication works on them, no other analgesics work either.  My eyes feel like they'll pop out. My head feels like it's burning up inside, like it's being microwaved. I can't speak, can't walk, can't construct a coherent sentence, can't do anything except take the weight off my neck, hold perfectly still with my eyes closed and give it time to go away.  An hour or so of lying down alone in the dark, or better yet, actually sleeping, will often get rid of them, but then I'm left feeling drained, confused, weak and sick, and it'll just be back the next day, or even later that same day.

Obviously, I'm disabled. If I find a way around one stupid disorder, the other knocks me down. I have tried every antidepressant, ADD drug, and anxiety drug, and none of them works to any real degree, and most have so many hideous side effects that even if the drug did what it was supposed to, it makes me so sick I couldn't work anyway, or even get out of bed. In treatment, I can't even decide which disorder is the more debilitating.  At the moment I'm thinking I could live the with SA if I could actually concentrate and pay attention long enough to something to just work from home, but I go back and forth like that all the time.

I have seen plenty of psychiatrists and counselors, but since I have little money, they've all been state employees, free clinics, and Jewish Community Services (who are great, by the way), but with the exception of the on SA counselor (who won't answer the letters I send him asking for help), none of them has ever understood my condition(s) well enough to understand that I can't even get an interview, let alone keep a job if someone ever did hire me, and the more bad experiences I have, the worse the SA gets, and I'm becoming increasingly isolated and crazy. I haven't even had a good friend in 9 years, and I've been completely alone for about 4.  The only reason I got to see the last counselor was because a very good college friend encouraged me, and I think she even drove me there, but now she's several thousand miles away, and that was a long time ago (I can't even bring myself to call her now).  The first counselor was a student and understood me well enough that when she moved on to another job, she personally took me to meet her replacement, and sat in on a couple of sessions, and got me setup and comfortable enough for the transition before she abandoned me, but her replacement was in idiot.  She was so oblivious to my condition that when she found out I'd moved just over the county line, she told me I'd have to find an office in that county, but she completely overlooked the fact that there was no way I could go to a new office and try to start up with a new counselor on my own. If the ADD part of me wasn't overwhelmed enough at the prospect of all that research to find out where to go, then all the paperwork, etc., the SA part of me would still be unable to make the calls, introduce myself, walk into a strange office.   You'd think a counselor who saw me for something like six months or a year would know my condition well enough to know I needed help, especially since I needed help just too meet her!  But no, she just pushed me out the door as though I didn't have the disorder at all.

So here's the meat of it all.  Before I started seeing someone in that office, I applied for SSA Disability, but I didn't have any help filing things out, and they sent me to an evil witch of a psychiatrist for an "evaluation," and the horrible woman reduced me to tears so she never even finished the interview to answer the questions. She got mad me because in trying to be thorough, I guess I wasn't talking fast enough for her or answering concisely enough or something, and when she clicked her tongue and rolled her eyes, of course I shut and and looked distressed.  Who wouldn't?  Then she yelled "what's wrong now?" and as I tried to answer I broke down while she stared at me, annoyed, then threw a box of tissues at me.  So, I have no idea what the awful woman wrote because she said she never finished asking me the questions for the evaluation, but she must have put down something because my application was denied.  I never got myself together well enough or found the courage to tackle the appeals precess. I'm very easily overwhelmed and discouraged.
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Continued from above ...

A year or two or three later, I tried again while I was seeing the bad counselor. I might have had a snowballs chance if I'd have gotten it together well enough to do it when I was still seeing Beth, the good counselor, but the second one never knew me, never even tried.  Social Security sent her some kind of evaluation, probably like the witch had to fill out, and once again I was denied. Connie never knew me, obviously. She clearly had no clue I couldn't do things like go through the steps to finding a new counselor, so who knows what she might have written.  This time I filled out the paperwork for the appeal, and I got it back from the Social Security office with a nasty little note at the bottom from the person who reviewed it that said, (and I quote) "if you can take care of your dogs, you can get a job!"  Yeah, someone really said that. Do you suppose if I were a double amputee or I had a bad back they'd still say that, because I have known such people who couldn't work, but also had dogs.  Not real hard to take care of. They let me know when they need to pee, eat, etc., and they don't give me deadlines or give a hoot if I don't understand what they're talking about.

So, how do I find a psychiatrist or counselor or someone who understands these two things and can help me get Disability? My father had been supporting me for the most part all these years, but I lost him a few years ago, and the money he'd invested for my future was swallowed up by the stock market crash in 2008. I'm nearly broke, and life is looking very, very bleak. I can't even go through the process to get some kind of food stamps or anything, so when the well runs dry ... I don't even want to think about it.  

I need  a psychiatrist who understands and can explain to the SSA what my problem is, and I need someone who will work with me and walk me through this stuff.  I get so confused, overwhelmed and discouraged.  It took me years to get through that first SSI application, and years to get through the second.  It's taken me hours to write this. I need help.  Where can I find it?  I don't have the confidence or organization skills, or people skills to run all over the place filling out forms and begging for handouts.  This isn't a joke. It's not an excuse not to work. For one thing, I have hundreds of thousands of dollars in defaulted student loans that I will never be able to pay back no matter what. If I live to an age at which I could collect Social Security, the whole check is taken from me to pay that debt anyway. Proving my disability would get that debt forgiven (it took me 9 years to earn my Bachelor degree, thinking that a degree would mean employment, but you need much more than a degree to get a job).  It was a mistake, but I didn't know that then. I was trying.  I really thought that if I had the degree, I would get a good job.  I was going to go on for my Masters and Ph.D, but once again, the easy discouragement, disorganization, and problem dealing with people kept me from finishing what I'd started.  I doubt it would have made the job situation any better though, but you never know.

Sorry to ramble on so. I never know what is enough and what is too much information. Long read.

Any ideas where I can find a psychiatrist that might be able to help me with both of these conditions, and get me through the SSI tangle without need a billion dollars first since I'm very nearly penniless?
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Avatar_m_tn
While ADHD often leads to acts of impulsivity and aggression in teenagers, the consequence of his behavior often leads to social isolation.
For children and teenagers who suffer from social anxiety disorder or social phobia, there is a constant underlying fear and anxiety associated with the belief that others are watching you or that you are constantly being judged. For fear of doing something that may place embarrassment on them, children and teenagers with this complication will simply choose to avoid the situation.
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Avatar_n_tn
Thank you for responding to my post.  

I am an adult woman, and I don't have the aggressive part of the ADD.  Apparently (from what I've read, and from psychiatrists I've seen) the female form of ADD/ADHD usually lacks the aggression of the male form, and often also lacks the physical hyperactivity. so my ADD, although alien to some people because they are only familiar with the adolescent and/or male version, is pretty typical of the disorder in my gender. You are correct about it leading to social isolation though, even without the aggression.  The impulsiveness and inability to control what kind of stupid things come out of my mouth are enough to lead to isolation.  When combined with the SA, the ADD gives people a reason to judge me all the time (as though the weird behavior of the SA, and my total lack of confidence weren't enough reasons for people to judge me).  Avoiding the situation is exactly what I do.  I avoid every situation.  I avoid life.

What can be done?  Where can I find help?  Who can help me get SS Disability?  Are you a psychologist or psychiatrist?  Can you tell me where to go?
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If you've seen a psychiatrist in the past, can you call them?  They will certainly try to treat you before working on disability which is the right thing to do.  Social anxiety is very treatable with medication.  SSRI's and SNRI's work very well for this disorder. I think aquiring disability for this is pretty difficult and the goal would be to get you out there rather than enable you to continue to avoid.   So, I would look to a psychiatrist to treat the condition and you can get a referral from your family doctor.  PS:  if you come in looking for disability----------  you'll be flagged.  Ask for treatment.  
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Avatar_n_tn
I think I've finally exhausted my own area's free medical guidance for my similar problems...

I'm not sure what's worse, being "helped" by people who blatantly don't care about you, or being helped by people who don't, but try and make you believe they do.

It...hurts, when you thought you and s/he were having a good dialogue, and then suddenly, "Ah, look at the time. Looks like our sessions over!" What now? Now, they wish you the best, as helping you further would be penny-less.

I'm...not as bitter as I sound.

Is this a dead thread? Should I not be posting here...?

Haha...

WELL TOO BAD. (<---aggressive?)
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Avatar_m_tn
   Nah, we aren't dead yet.  But starting a new post is also a good idea.
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