Whenever I am invited to attend an event, or even just go out in public, there is a certain rush of anxiety that washes over me that remains there all the way not just until the day of the event or outing but lasting all through it as well. What could possibly be so daunting for me? I mean, I used to be a social butterfly and out and about more days and nights of the week than not. What happened that slid me all the way from one side of the spectrum to the polar opposite?
I had a bipolar breakdown.
Yes, I understand we all have bottomed out at one point or another. I had previously bottomed out myself, however, this time was different. The bipolar breakdown was just the beginning. Two months later I filed for divorce which became very long and drawn out so he could continue to inflict as much psychological damage as possible. And then, to top it off, about two months after I first filed for divorce, I was sent a packet from my employer which fired me and put me on long term disability.
You might wonder what is so terrible about needing more time to get better and get back on my feet? I mean, people do it all the time, this is why we have the system right? Well, due to some legal issues that involved my ex-husband, I became a casualty of the legal mess too. The end result left me with not being able to work in the legal field ever again if I ever did lose my job at that current employer, you know, the one that fired me when long term disability went into effect.
What does any of that have to do with anxiety about socializing?
What is the huge cause of anxiety? What makes me so uncomfortable that I try to avoid places with people who do not know me or my story?
“So, what do you do for a living?”
Yes, being asked that question (and I’m literally sweating and hands shaking while typing right now just thinking of it) is terrifying. I feel so embarrassed because I do not want to tell people that I am on disability. I graduated college with 2 degrees, attended a year of law school and worked for 3 very prestigious law firms. (Both of my degrees in the legal field). So, here I am, girl with an impeccable resume with whom people assume I will be returning to work as a paralegal again when I’m cleared by my doctors and things will carry on as usual.
I can’t go back. So, to divert attention away I say that I am a mental health blogger. I tell them all about this site and Ask A Bipolar. Here comes another dreaded question, how profitable is the blogging. Time for me to explain that I do not make any money running the websites and blogging and being an advocate, that I actually lose money because of the expenses I pay. So, again, I thought I could divert away from the whole legal field issue, but when talking about my blogging and the lack of income, the next question to come, naturally, is
“So, what are you going to do when it is time to go back to work?”
Yes, it is definitely a legitimate question. No, I don’t have an answer. I feel like I finally just got over the loss of my 8 years with my ex-husband, all the dramatic events that happened in those years, the few hurdles since the divorce (my back surgery and the chronic pain) , and the actual acceptance and realization of the loss of my legal career, one that I loved so much, that I am just starting to panic about being back at square one again. I spent my whole educational experience and work training experience to work in that field. I don’t know any other field, except blogging.
But it’s not just the fact that I don’t know what I’m going to be doing, the embarrassment that I feel because it’s been so long and I am still not working and I still have a whole lot of days that I can’t picture myself working a job is too much. Then, I also feel like I’ve embarrassed whoever I came with because I feel that they deserve someone better or more accomplished than me. I get so self conscious then and the rest of the time, I am trying to go above and beyond to make sure I make a good impression despite my lack of job.
Why is this job thing so important?
I worked hard, always to attain what I wanted or needed. I got a part time job in high school to save up for a car and to help pay for my college. I worked during the school year and the whole summers during college to help pay for what loans didn’t cover. I was a workaholic, always. So, not working for so long and now, not knowing what I even want to do, is terrifying to me. The legal field and working my butt off was something I was good at. It made me proud of myself to see the end results and to know that I was doing work that was helpful to the cases. I took a lot of pride in that. So, that is why the job thing is so important and why I hate, absolutely hate the question “What do you do for a living?”