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I'm new to the forum. I'm so glad to find it! This stupid condition makes me feel so alone. I don't know why I hadn't thought to look for SA forums before! So glad to be here!

I guess I should tell you a little about myself.

I am a middle-aged woman with both SA and ADD, and because of this malady, I’m essentially nonfunctional. It seems that if I can temporarily get a handle on one disorder, the other defeats me instead. I’m not sure if anyone else here has this particular combination of disorders, but it'd be great to meet people who understand the special frustrations associated with having both of them. Maybe some of you could share with me your methods for success (or at least getting by).

I remember the doctor who first diagnosed me with SA telling me that most people get the disorder as the result of some event in their lives. If this is true of me, it must have been very early in my childhood because I’ve been fearful of people for as far back as I can remember. According to my mother, my kindergarten teacher had thought I was retarded (my IQ is around 126).

Although I never “grew out” of my shyness, the anxiety matured along with me. At some age, one can no longer hide under the couch to get away from people, so I learned ways to compensate for my fear. In fact, in some ways I overcompensate, which creates a whole new set of problems. Probably as the result of ADD-related compulsion combined with my inability to think straight around people, and my attempt to hide my fear and appear “normal,” I apparently come across too often as not shy, but rather, arrogant. My mouth either shuts down completely (when the anxiety is really severe), or goes on and on by itself without engaging my brain at all. It’s awful. I almost always feel embarrassed after speaking to people. In college, my boyfriend and I often had friends over in the evening, and I remember awakening nearly every morning with a vague feeling of shame as though I’d drunk too much and said stupid things. Then one day I had the sickening realization that I hadn’t been drinking at all most of the time, and even when I had been, it was only ever a glass of wine or beer. Just being around people either made me behave stupidly, or more likely, made me feel as though I behaved stupidly.

The nice thing about written communication is that I can keep my mouth out of it. If I hadn’t told you about my SA, you’d never guess. However, you might be tipped off to the ADD if you knew I’ve been working on this one post for over four hours (so far). Everything takes me much longer than it takes a “normal” person. This is mostly due to the ADD. I can’t hold a thought long. I’m scattered, disorganized, distracted, and I lose track of the thread of my thoughts. My little mind wanders off on its own for ages before I realize the silly thing is gone and I have reel it back in again, then it inevitably breaks away and goes bounding off again shortly thereafter. It’s like butterfly in the wind, or a puppy getting lost chasing a leaf. I lose the thread of my thought. Time expands and contracts. Sometimes hours fly by in minutes, and other times the clock slows so much I can feel my heart beating out every agonizing second. I prefer it when time goes by fast, except that it usually means I’m not accomplishing anything. However, when time slows, it means my anxiety is so bad that I’m about to implode. Both scenarios are devastating to employment. The former causes me to get fired, the latter causes me to quit (or, I should say, not show up for work, which you can interpreted as either).

Nearly no one who meets me recognizes that I have an anxiety disorder or attention problem, or that I’m dying inside while talking to them. Most conversations make me feel like a caged rabbit, desperate to escape back into my hole, but people don’t see it. The exception to this might be job interviews where I often freeze up so badly I can’t remember simple words or construct coherent sentences, but I imagine most employers assume it’s normal interview anxiety (or that I’m making things up, or I’m not very bright). The bigger problem is when I do get hired. Even if I like the job, I feel like I’m in a fog all the time (like I have low blood sugar or I’m in a dream). I can’t think straight. I’m scattered. I’m sick to my stomach with anxiety. I sometimes feel like my voice is garbled, and I know I often speak too loudly (which is weird because I spoke too quietly when I was young, and I don’t know when or why I went to the other extreme). I feel like I’m receiving way too much stimuli – like I’m being asked a bunch of questions at once while the radio is blaring in my ears and the light is in my eyes and I’m trying to do math in my head all at the same time. My brain is overwhelmed, and it’ll zone out so I don’t hear or understand what people are saying or what’s going on around me. I get tunnel vision. It’s also physical. It feels like my head is in a canvas bag or a bucket. My eyelids feel heavy, and my eyeballs don’t want to move in their sockets. My hearing dims. My neck gets so stiff I can’t look at people without turning my shoulders – which looks weird, and I often have to prop my head up with my elbow, or lean it back against a chair rest – all of which make me look bored, disinterested, or again, arrogant or cocky. I’d apologize to people and explain my stiff neck and anxiety – except that I have this damned anxiety disorder that prevents me from doing that.

What scares me most is that I’m getting worse. I have two Bachelor degrees (a BS and a BA), but my decline since college has been rapid, accelerated primarily by a lack of social support, and a line of jobs that went very, very wrong, thus reinforcing my anxiety, and stripping me of the modicum of confidence I might have once had. Jobs have been few and far between, and none has paid a living wage. I have student loans I’ll never be able to repay, and no way out from under them. I have been homeless, and I’ve been hungry, but when it got really bad, my father was always there to send me a little cash or give me a place to stay. He died several years ago, leaving me a couple of investments that he thought would earn enough to get me by, but when the market crashed last fall, they took a nosedive there is very little left. For just a couple of years I knew what it was like to feel almost free of this stupid condition because I didn’t have to try to work. The depression magically lifted, and I was actually happy for the first time in my life because I didn’t have to constantly fight this stupid condition or convince people that it was real. But the relief was short-lived, and now I’m scared out of my wits. I have no other family, and between the ADD and SA, I can’t even apply for welfare, and I’d never be able to panhandle. Life looks very bleak from here on out, and perhaps even very short.

I’m hoping to find a community of people here with similar “issues” who have learned to deal with them and function in society. I’m hoping they can share their ideas, their methods, and their recipes for success with me. And since I’ve been unable to do it in real life, I’m hoping that I can find a network “friends” and maybe even job opportunities beginning right here on this site.

Anyone need a writer? ;-)
 

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Hey Butterflyspit :wels
 

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Welcome to SAS!

If I hadn't told you about my SA, you'd never guess. However, you might be tipped off to the ADD if you knew I've been working on this one post for over four hours (so far). Everything takes me much longer than it takes a "normal" person."
I don't think I've taken four hours before to write a message, but I often take a long time to write messages(even short ones) too. I keep editing my posts.
 

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Welcome, ButterflySpit! :)
 
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