“When I was little I was extremely outgoing and you could not get me to stop. I loved crowds,” says Alysha Seadorf, 24, a PRIDE Industries employee providing custodial services at the Sacramento International Airport – Terminal B. “I do not remember exactly when that stopped.” Alysha has an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorders are a group of mental illnesses that cause people to feel excessively frightened, distressed, or uneasy during situations in which most other people would not experience the same feelings, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). According to NAMI, anxiety disorders are the most common mental health concern in the U.S, affecting 40 million adults in the United States. Furthermore, most people develop symptoms of anxiety disorders before age 21, and women are 60% more likely to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder than are men.
It was in middle school when Alysha first noticed a change; she would get more and more anxious and preferred to be alone. Alysha explains, “I would spend as little time as I could at school.” The older she got, the more time she spent indoors hiding in her room to avoid interaction with others – including her family.
Anxiety disabilities can include panic disorder, phobias, post-traumatic stress, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Left untreated, individuals can take extreme measures to avoid triggers and anxiety, such as refusing to leave their home and finding themselves unable to work.
Although it was difficult to take the first steps toward self-sufficiency and independence, Alysha made an effort to find employment. For two years, she applied for numerous job openings with no results. Eventually, Alysha connected to PRIDE Industries through the Fair Oaks Department of Rehabilitation. Alysha then began working with a PRIDE job developer and attended Job Club meetings.
Job Clubs provide an opportunity for individuals to gain hands-on interviewing and job-seeking practice. Enrollees gain job etiquette skills and receive help in conducting a job search and other employment- related training.
“There were a few things covered that I already knew, but I did not realize that I was doing a lot of it wrong,” says Alysha. “I did not realize how much body language was part of getting the job.”
With a few tweaks to her resume and equipped with the do’s and don’t’s of job searching, Alysha landed a job. In December 2014, Alysha joined PRIDE Industries’ custodial team ensuring that the Sacramento International Airport’s Terminal B is sparkling clean.
The first few weeks on the job were challenging; due to the holidays she had to deal with masses of people going through the airport. “Alysha was shy and quiet in the beginning; she would get stressed out very quickly,” says Karen Long, Alysha’s supervisor. “But after a few weeks, she was excited and eager to learn. She had opened up and was happy and bubbly.”
Before, large groups of people and interaction with passengers could cause anxiety and stress for Alysha, but that is no longer the case. “I can deal with the crowds now; I do not freeze up when somebody randomly talks to me,” she says. Working at the airport has also helped Alysha overcome her anxiety about flying, her fear of heights and wariness of large groups of people. She is looking forward to her summer trip to Florida; it will be her first flight in over ten years.
When asked how life is different now, Alysha replies: “My relationship with my dad and stepmom has improved. I do not spend so much time hiding in my room, or look for other ways to avoid interacting with people.”
Additionally, Alysha has made efforts outside of work to overcome her anxiety disorder, getting the support and treatment needed to work through her triggers. According to the American Journal of Psychiatry, effective medication or talk therapy treatment have been shown to improve the quality of life for many patients.
Progress with her anxiety disorder is helping in other ways. “I have been spending a lot more time with my nieces and nephews, which is awesome,” says Alysha. “I went shopping all on my own, the other day. Shopping alone was something that was hard for me because going into a store and finding what I need was difficult with the amount of people that would be in the store.”
Alysha is not the only one noticing her vast improvement. “Alysha has come a long way from the shy girl to the talkative girl who gets excited telling a story,” says Karen Long. “I am very proud of all she has accomplished, and she is a great asset to my team.”
“I am proud of myself,” says Alysha. “So are my stepdad, my dad, and stepmom.”
Currently, Alysha is saving money to purchase a new car and is working on transitioning to full-time employment. Also, Alysha aspires to move out of her parents’ home to share an apartment with a friend.
For individuals like Alysha, a job means much more than a paycheck. Alysha has begun a new life chapter. We are proud to have Alysha on our team and are grateful she found a place with PRIDE Industries.
Learn more about anxiety disorders and treatment click here.