Q: I’ve looked all over your site and haven’t been able to find anyone or any situation like mine. I should start by telling you that I am physically disabled. Between 1999 and 2003 I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, Sjogren’s Syndrome, and Spondylitis. In general, I suffer from pain all over my body, have had pancreatitis and cirrhosis several times in the last eight years (from the Sjogren’s) and have been forced to use a cane when I walk (that’s from the Spondylitis). I know and understand that depression is a common symptom of Fibromyalgia, and although I am not currently on medication for it (I was on Zoloft), I believe that I have it under control. My mother also has depression and has been wonderfully helpful, making sure I understood that it is not a character flaw— it’s a disease.
I quit working in November of 2003 due to my physical problems. I made this decision with both the support of my family and the support of my family doctor. In June of 2004 I applied for Social Security Disability as well as the assistance offered by my state’s Department of Social and Health Services. I am still going through appeals and have a hearing soon at which I hope to prove my need for assistance. Unfortunately, I lost my medical insurance (through my mother’s employer — I aged out at 24) and have not been able to qualify for state assistance because, in my state, you have to qualify for all or nothing. I stopped the Zoloft and a few other pain medications at that time.
Although I don’t believe that I am having problems with depression, I have found myself lately not wanting to be in any social situations. I would like to make it clear that I am not really “afraid” of being around people, I just don’t want to. I find myself greatly annoyed any time I am away from home. The noise and rudeness of other people (say, on the road, or in stores) bothers me. My boyfriend (of 6 years) is a very social person and although it is understood that I never really have been, my dislike of social situations has grown worse; to the point where I am having a hard time contacting a lawyer’s office that I require for my hearing. It’s not that I’m afraid, per se, but that I really don’t want to leave home, and the idea of sitting in an office seems very uncomfortable.
In an effort to cure my current state, I went down to Spokane Mental Health, a local clinic that will see people without insurance for free. I was told that I’m just “not a nice person” and that I should “force myself into social situations.” Honestly, I can understand that I should seek out social situations, but I am concerned that there might be something more to my problem than “not a nice person.” There are no more non-religious resources in my town, and most normal clinics won’t see people who don’t have insurance. (That’s what really got me — they don’t take cash? When did that happen?)
Do you, as a therapist, know of anyone like me? Is there a better way for me to phrase this so that I can get help in the town where I live? I’ve always been the book-worm type, but I don’t even want to go on dates with my boyfriend anymore, and that concerns me, because I used to look forward to that so much! Thanks so much for your time!
A: Sounds like you are caught between a rock and a hard place right now. Unfortunately I have seen how long it can take for a legitimate disability finding to come through and in the meantime life can get pretty hard.
I can’t imagine any decent therapist just telling someone who wanted help that they “weren’t a nice person.” I would first try making a complaint at that clinic and requesting a different therapist. I’ve worked in a county agency and they usually have a client’s rights officer to deal with these sort of things. Otherwise you may just try to find a private therapist who works with self-pay individuals on a sliding scale. Try looking for a therapist online (Psych Central has a therapist search on its homepage, sponsored by Psychology Today) or in the phonebook and just start making calls. Other resources are support groups that the United Way or Human Services may put you in touch with. Or you may try places like Catholic or Lutheran Social Service because they usually employ licensed therapists.
That being said, just from what you’ve written it’s hard to tell if your withdrawal from social situations is due to depression, anxiety or just generally being burnt out. In addition to finding professional help I would suggest increasing your self-care practices and trying things like yoga and meditation, massage, energy work, acupuncture, etc., to treat the “whole you.” Good luck.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 18 Jul 2007
Counts, H. (2007). How do I get help for disability and new dislike of people in general?. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 11, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/07/18/how-do-i-get-help-for-disability-and-new-dislike-of-people-in-general/