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by Abigail Van Buren

Woman With Anxiety Disability Is Target of Public Skepticism

DEAR ABBY: I can't drive. It's not because I don't want to, but whenever I sit behind the wheel, I have panic attacks. I'm currently attending therapy for it, and progress is being made, albeit slowly.

The problem is, when I try to explain that I suffer from GAD (generalized anxiety disorder), which affects my ability to learn to drive and sometimes just function day to day, I get a raised eyebrow and a "Well you look fine to me." I feel like I'm in a lose-lose situation when the subject of my disability comes up. I'm not ashamed of it, but it's frustrating to be regarded as either lazy or a liar because I don't "look" disabled and I'm not "disabled enough" to apply for disability. How do I handle this? -- ELAINE IN COLORADO

DEAR ELAINE: You look fine because you have what is called a hidden disability. You do not have to discuss it in casual conversation. If someone asks you to drive, explain that you can't because panic attacks prevent it, but you are "working on getting it resolved." If someone implies that you are lazy or a liar, reveal that you are in therapy to address it if you choose. If that doesn't shut the ignorant person up, keep your distance.

Read more in: Mental Health