Should I File for Disability?

Updated on February 01, 2016
A.M. asks from Wichita, KS
17 answers

I've been dealing with depression and anxiety and even mild ocd for ten years now and it started after getting out of the military. Since that time, I have the hardest time getting along with people, had over 20 jobs and cannot keep them and I'm always afraid that I'm going to get fired or get in trouble for something even though I know I'm not doing anything wrong, I have to force myself to go to work and not make up some lame excuse as to why I can't go to work, I feel as though I can't be around people and I feel like I can't leave my house anymore because it's becoming overwhelming to leave. I have very compulsive behavior which I'm trying so hard to control but fail 9 times out of 10 especially when I'm stressed. I've been to counselors at the VA and was put on anti anxiety meds but discontinued it because it makes me too tired, and yet I'm waking up at all hours of the night thinking I'm late for work and its hard for me to go back to sleep at times. I'm always afraid that something horrible is going to happen, one day I had a horrible feeling that something bad was going to happen to my daughter that I pulled her out of school early that day because I felt so strongly that I had to be there to protect her. I'm driving myself insane. I really don't know what happened that I feel like this now and I don't like going to the VA therapist because they always act like I'm lying about how I feel. I feel like I'm alone and no one understands me. I don't want this, I don't want to be supported by the government but I was told I might benefit from it also. I don't want to let this beat me neither or to be defined by it. I'm just so lost. I don't know what to do. Any advice will be appreciated. Thank you.

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So What Happened?

Thank you everyone for your advice, it is much appreciated and I'm really glad I found this web site to get advice and to talk with other moms. Honestly, I don't want disability because I know I will become more of a hermit crab and most likely will get worse and that is not the example I want to set for my daughter. My daughter has high functioning autism and had anxiety also where she doesn't want to go to school but I make her go anyways and that's why I need to keep fighting and beat the as well. I love being out in nature, walking the nature trails and especially being near water. For some reason water always calms me down. I have been in touch with the VA and my case worker is setting me up with appointments and I'm going to try and get back to school to finish my biology degree and get the career I want. I might be wrong on this but I think working in the career field I want will cut down on anxiety and depression ten fold. And Julie S. I don't have ADHD, if anything I was told I may be mildly autistic and I never said i was fired. I said I have a fear of being fired. All the jobs I left I did so on my own accord because I couldn't get along with people and the stress was too much for me. I appreciate your input anyways, but please next time be sure to understand what is said completely before giving advice, and making assumptions.

Featured Answers



answers from Beaumont on

You need different medications! You don't have to live this way. All the things you mention are treatable. Please get the emotional support you need from someone close to you and have them help you get a good doctor. Hang in there, things will change.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

So exhausting when you feel like this, right?
You need to find another doctor and get on different medications. Just because one doesn't work doesn't mean that another one wont!

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Atlanta on


As a military wife, thank you for your service and sacrifices to our country.

Depression, while a disability, is treatable and NOT a reason to file.

You need to deal with your depression head on. Quitting the world and becoming a hermit is NOT going to heal you nor help you. If you file for disability? You ARE going to let it beat you.

You are letting it define you every time you fall into the chasm and allow the anxiety and depression to drive your life. You CAN break the chain. YOU HAVE to WANT to break the chain.

Find another VA therapist that you can go to. See if they have a 30 day live in program to get you on the right path. Tyler, my husband who is a retired USAF Officer, says that the VA WILL help you. Don't give up.

You need to go back on the medication. You need to exercise and go out and do things. Especially when you are in the midst of a stressful occasion.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

This could be PTSD. Perhaps you could get help through a non-governmental veteran organization. Your description of how you feel suggests to me that your condition is more than depression and anxiety. If you have not seen a psychiatrist, I suggest you see one.

I suggest, no matter the cause, that you need more than an antianxiety med. How long were you taking this medication? Often, it takes taking an SSRI medication for 4-6 weeks before your body adapts to it. Once it does you won't be tired. The doctor will gradually increase your dose until it's helpful. If you don't feel better in a few weeks, he'll (or her) will try a different medication. If the anxiety medication is one of the older ones, not an SSRI, you probably will always be somewhat tired.

Several years ago, my managed care insurance gave me an older one because it was less expensive. I couldn't deal with the sleepiness. They then gave me an SSRI. I've been on one or another SSRI for the last 20 years for depression aND anxiety. They make a big difference in my life.

I don't know much about VA disability and how it works. I would consider applying for it. I would continue to look for help with your feelings.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

sweetie, you need to keep looking for the right therapist, and you need to have your meds tweaked. this has got to be just awful for you, but it IS treatable and you need and deserve to find a better place in your head to live.
and you really MUST do it because your condition is affecting your child. above and beyond taking her out of school unnecessarily, she's learning to accept your outlook on the world as normal, and i know you don't want that.
i know it feels like you're on a hamster wheel, but stay with it. go back to the VA and find a different counselor. there IS one that will be right for you. ditto the meds. i know it must be insanely frustrating to keep trying and keep having unacceptable side effects, but there are a lot of different ones and you have to keep trying until you find the right med at the right dose for you.
my worry about you going on disability is that you'll just sink below the waters of depression and not resurface.
i know the VA has not served our soldiers nearly as well as our soldiers have served us, but i know that they're trying to do better. you are a hero to your country. now be one to you, and your daughter, too.
good luck, my dear.
ETA hearts and flowers galore for nervy!

8 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Not being able to hold down a job because you are constantly getting fired is not a disability and it happens to a lot of people. Obviously you are doing something wrong or they wouldn't fire you. You need help! You need help to managed your anxiety but more than that you need job training so you can see what you are doing that is causing you to be fired. I can imagine it becomes quite terrifying when you keep doing your best and keep getting fired but rather than just give up find someone who will help you understand what you aren't seeing.

Have you considered looking into whether you have ADHD or not? I am only throwing this out there because a lot of what you describe was things I dealt with when I was younger. Of course my odd solution was to become so freaking good at what I do they won't fire me in spite of my rather odd personality. Not saying this is what you have going on, I hate when people diagnose over the internet. I just want to point out this is actually normal for someone with ADHD.

Per your what happened, there was no way to understand what you meant by having over 20 jobs in ten years based on what you wrote. Just because I was the only one who addressed it doesn't mean that everyone else reading this thought you had quit every one of those jobs. The impression your words gave is that you were fired, over and over, and are now in fear of being fired again.

So far as ADHD goes I was just trying to be helpful, it is very manageable though makes you feel like you will fail over and over, at friendships, at work, at just about anything. My son is high functioning autistic and like most of them is also ADHD so autism does not rule out ADHD. Sorry but if you were going for nice in your comment directed specifically at me, you failed. Perhaps next time you say any advice is appreciated you should mean it.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Sometimes you need to try a few different meds before you find the right one for you. You also need to get therapy, INSIST upon it. It took my best friend a few years before finding the right combination for her. She saw a therapist for a few years, and has been taking medication ever since. She is now a full time, married, working mostly happy mother of two.
Going on disability isn't going to make your anxiety and depression go away, in fact it will probably make it worse! Please don't do that to yourself, or your kids, they NEED you to take care of yourself.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

First, thank you for your service! Second, I know you are truly suffering and feeling like nothing will help. I bet it takes all you have to get out of bed sometimes, but Mama, it is time to dig deeper, find that life force inside you, and take every step necessary to get better. Good news there are effective treatments but you can't bail on the healing process. I would tell the VA therapist you think he/she doesn't believe you. Part of therapy is telling the therapist when you aren't feeling understood. If that doesn't seem to impact the treatment, I would look for another therapist. Time to switch up the medication. It takes time to find one that is a good fit. I worry that by going on disability you will actually end up in a worse place 5 yrs from now. Part of what helps depression and anxiety is having daily structure, a place to go, and people to get to know. I worry that if you go on disability you will fall deeper into the rabbit hole. You got this!!! First step is getting consistent and intensive intervention which means you need medication and weekly talk therapy. Are you spiritual? Maybe join a church or some type of religious organization. I would work on healing your mind (therapy and meds), body (exercise) , and soul (meditation, prayer, church, volunteering somewhere). Blessings and ((hugs)) to you and please keep us posted!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

No, filing for disability isn't going to make you feel any better.
Staying in your home will just isolate you - you need to function in the outside world especially for your daughter - you don't want to be a burden for her.
You need to keep working with your doctor/counselor - and if one med didn't work out, then you need to try a different one (maybe several) until you find one that works right for you.
Keep forcing yourself to get to work and make it through the day.
Go through the motions and fake it till you make it.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

My advice would be to be kind to yourself. You are not alone in this struggle. This can be traced right back to your service and is most likely PTSD. The VA is doing more to treat mental health conditions (which in my opinion are more important than treating most health conditions) so please start at square one and let them know that you need help.

I was watching a documentary on mindful meditation that was done with vets with PTSD. Very high success rate. Took several months but it might be worth looking into. I'm sure you could apply for disability but I fear that not having to leave the house and interact with other people will probably drive you further into your depression.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on


First and foremost - thank you for your service and sacrifices to our country.

Secondly - NO. DO NOT file for disability. It will NOT change anything for you, except make things worse for you. You NEED to work on yourself. You NEED to change therapists. Complying with what your mind is telling you is NOT going to help you. You need to be tested to find out what's wrong - is it a chemical imbalance or is it something else?? You DESERVE to be healthy. You DESERVE to be treated. DO NOT let the voices in your head

Depression is an ugly, black hole. You NEED to take the medication and find one that works for you and doesn't make you tired. You MUST exercise and get plenty of OUTSIDE time. It's possible you have SAD - Seasonal Affective Disorder. If you don't get enough sunlight, you will get depressed too.

Your anxiety? You need to confront it and address it. You cannot let it control and consume your life. I know it's easier said than done. You CAN DO IT. You HAVE to want it. Start a journal and start figuring out what your triggers are. Work with a DIFFERENT doctor and get the help you need.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

You do not have to live this way. Anxiety, depression and OCD are all treatable conditions.

I have a friend that suffered from anxiety and OCD. The books she has read on the subject taught her the same things her therapist told her. Perhaps go to the book store and see if any of the books look useful.

Also, go to your primary care doctor and see if they can refer you or provide different meds.

Best of luck and thank you for your service.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Please commit to getting help for your depression and anxiety. If you need a new therapist and psychiatrist, get them. If you need to try a different medication, do it. Your health is most important for you and your daughter. I commend you for recognizing that it's a problem, that takes a lot of courage. The next step is taking the steps you need to get help.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Thank you for your service, and I am SO sorry for what you are going through. Have you reached out to other military organizations? The VA isn't the only place to go. Look for PTSD and Wounded Warrior events. I know Wounded Warrior just got a bad rep in the news, but they do some great work too.

And if you aren't getting the help you need from the VA, involve your senator. They really like to help vets. My brother did 5 years and the VA was giving him a hell of a time, until our senator got involved.

Please don't go on disability...I think it will make things harder for you. You need to get control of your life back - reach out to that that can help you. We are going through this right now with my brother, please feel free to message me if you would like help finding people/places that can truly help you.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Salt Lake City on

First of all, ((HUG)). I'm so sorry you're feeling this way, and that the VA where you are isn't being helpful. The symptoms you described are very much like my husband's. Did you know that anxiety, depression, obsessive/compulsive behavior, and overprotective/controlling impulses can all be symptoms of PTSD? I'm not saying you have it - I don't know you personally and am not a therapist, and I'm not assuming you have it. But I can say that I've seen what you describe here before, because I'm married to someone who struggles with these things, and in his case, PTSD is at the root of it all. It can be hard to acknowledge, simply because the trigger is often something you're working really hard NOT to think about.

Also, it's worth noting that PTSD doesn't always surface right after the triggering incident. A person can fight it off or bury it for years.

If this sounds like you, there is help out there, and not all of it directly from the VA. Is there a Vet Center near you? You can access their services for free. They are connected to but not directly under the VA, and the counselors there were the first people who were able to give my husband any meaningful help. You don't have to suspect you have PTSD to go there - they help veterans with all kind of mental health issues. My husband first went there for help with anxiety/depression. You don't have to file a disability claim to get help from them - you just have to be a veteran.

Also, if your only option for therapy is the VA itself and your assigned therapist makes you feel like you're lying, that therapy relationship isn't going to help you. Go in, explain to whoever is in charge, and insist on changing therapists. I'm sure they have more than one. If you can't get the situation changed on your own, go to a veterans' advocacy organization such as the VFW. (They often have offices in the same complex as the VA.) The sad truth is that some VA officials aren't good at listening to individual vets. Having an advocate can force them to pay attention and hear you.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Depression makes you think the world is your enemy, and that other people can't understand you, etc.

I suggest you find a therapist to help you break out of the negative mind trap of depression. I also suggest you go to the doctor and get put on a sleeping pill. Depression and anxiety are heightened and caused by lack of sleep. Getting quality sleep is essential. The other thing you can do is do 30 minutes of exercise 3x a week. Research shows this is as effective as anti-depressants for many people. (well, research also shows that anti-depressants are as effective as sugar pills too!)

There is no reason why you can't manage your depression and anxiety and live a normal life. You just need to get the help you need.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

A. - I think that YES, you should file for disability while you work on you. That's what it's there for. To help out for when you are unable to work dues to a disability. Yours happens to be mental. But that's fine. Take the disability and be sure to work on you. Get counseling, maybe try something new educationally wise.

I pay taxes so that people just like you can get the help that they need. Take advantage of what is being offered. Good luck and thank you for your service!

1 mom found this helpful
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