Nathaniel Miller

Nathaniel Miller (left) with his father, brother and nephew
-Courtesy of Facebook

After years of depression and social anxiety, Nathaniel Miller has found the road to recovery rockier than he thought.  A former student at Old Dominion University and Longwood University, Miller has seen several therapists and taken medication, but he found that the only cure to his mental illnesses was the support of his family and friends, and self-acceptance.

Now 28, Miller has had social anxiety since he was in middle school.  “When I was younger, any social situation, I would avoid,” he said.  His older brother, Andy, would help get him out of the house and engage in sports such as soccer and baseball.  “I wouldn’t be alive without my family,” said Miller, whose brother and parents have always been supportive of him.

The effects of having both depression and social anxiety made high school difficult.  Miller kept his problems to himself, preferring to ignore his insecurities.  He had several girlfriends and focused his efforts on trying to make them happy instead of working on his own problems.  “Almost every girl I dated had the same issues I had.  But I like helping people, that’s probably why I ended up liking them so much,” he said.  His family and a few close friends helped him get through school, but his social anxiety was growing worse.  “I didn’t deal with it, I just avoided social situations,” he said.

“You’re always thinking about what other people are saying about you, even if it’s not true.” said Miller.  His social anxiety and depression continue to be a major problem in his life, and he has decided to work full-time rather than finish his uncompleted degrees at Old Dominion University and Longwood University.  While his academic performances in school were above-average, Miller’s social anxiety made him feel so uncomfortable and out of place that he has decided not to return.

“I stopped going to therapy because it was too expensive,” he said.  Although therapy remains too expensive to go to, Miller has tried several different medications to ease his anxiety with no positive results.“I felt okay, but the problem I had with medicines is that you don’t feel like yourself anymore. You feel like someone who can go to places and smile.  You find yourself just agreeing with people and smiling.  It was so fake.”  Taking medication like Zoloft, Pacsil, or Lexipro helped Miller’s anxiety and depression, but even his family members noticed that while on medication, Miller didn’t seem like himself.

Nathaniel Miller with his nephew
-Courtesy of Facebook

His father, Seaborn Miller, said that he could always tell when Nathaniel was on medication as he wouldn’t act like himself.  Watching his son grow up under pressure from his mental illnesses was hard for the whole family.  They all did their best to talk to him, listen to him, and help him any way they could.

“As long as you can kind of blank your mind out and get through the day, you’ll be alright,” Nathaniel Miller said, on working as Inventory Manager at Priority Acura in Virginia Beach, VA, where he makes $25-30,000 a year.  He does not go to therapy and is not currently on medication.  “Eventually you kind of realize you’re gonna be a worker bee.  You have to just get a job and pay the bills.”

Miller is working through his anxieties one step at a time.  He hopes to one day have a family and settle down.  When asked what advice he would give a younger version of himself, he said, “It’s really not bad to be selfish every now and then.  Living your life for other people will make you feel better to an extent, but it won’t make you happy.”

By Aly Webb