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I Developed a Fear of Mail Due to Crohn’s Disease and Disability Paperwork

When we were tots, getting mail was a magical thing. It usually meant a magazine, book, or gift from a relative. Maybe you had a penpal that you conversed with and getting that piece of mail incentivized you to check daily. Has the simple act of going out to get the mail sent you spiraling into a full-blown panic attack? You’re not alone. The meer site of specific mail these days can throw my entire being off. For me, the fear of mail is a side effect of having Crohn’s disease and dealing with disability paperwork that isn’t really discussed.

As we get older, it’s a given how more responsibilities will fall upon our shoulders. The mailbox will lose the magic it once possessed during childhood.

I remember when I was going through a bad breakup during college and my ex’s mail was still coming to our house. I loathed getting the mail. If a bill was coming due, it meant I had to talk to him. It was a hard few months, to say the least.

When I bought my first house, the mailbox wasn’t by the house. My roommate and I would take turns getting the mail. We hated dealing with the mosquitos, wasps, and assorted Florida wildlife hiding out in the mail shelter. Ah, Florida. The majority of our bills were paid online, so we, carelessly, let the mail sit in the box for far too long. Then, my grandfather started sending mail at random times. We both loved reading his mail. We called it, “Milt mail!” It breathed new encouragement into our getting the mail regularly.

Medical bills and disability letters are triggers

When life changes, so does your mail. Living with Crohn’s disease for more than half of my life, medical bills and denial letters from insurance providers became triggers. Once I became deemed disabled, letters from Disability Services and Social Security Office became triggering as well.

The minute I see a wide white envelope from my insurer or a thick brown envelope with “Social Security” in the window, my blood runs cold and nausea hits. As my heart begins to race and anxiety amps up, I can’t help but think the worst — “today is the day, they deny life-saving meds or benefits, or that I owe an insane amount of money.”

Fear and worries of intimidating forms

You’ve got, fear (mail). About three months ago, I started working full-time. I had performed due diligence and reported this attempt and was honest that I wasn’t sure if it would last. The info provided over the phone was not enough. Apparently, you must provide the same info (and then some) in writing. I found this out when I received two sets of big brown envelopes from social security asking me to review my work history. I was declared disabled in 2012 due to Crohn’s disease and arthritis. The forms vaguely mention that you need to provide information dating all the way back to 2012. I don’t know about you, but some days I can hardly remember what I ate the week prior.

The forms are intimidating and I do understand why they are necessary. However, I think it’s fair to say they are written in a vague manner that lacks how much information you truly need to provide. The forms do tell you if you need help to call, which I did. However, one call sent me spiraling. Another call was a little more informative and helped ease worries. But there was a lack of consistency in the answers to my questions, unfortunately.

What was I worried about exactly? I was worried that I hadn’t filled something out properly in previous filings with the IRS or disability, as well as that I would mess this current form up altogether. My brain is my worst enemy.

I can’t always be pro-active with this paperwork

Ignoring your problems, like mail, gets you nowhere fast. I acknowledged I needed a break from worrying. With forms like this, you’re given a deadline. So I set a timeline of when I had to start on completing the forms and when they needed to be sent out. I then placed the disability forms and their (alarming to me) brown envelopes in a drawer that I use often. It wasn’t quite out of sight, nor was it in my eye-line at all times.

I wish my initial reactions were always pro-active ones but that isn’t always the case. Thankfully, when I was able to pull it together, I reached out to a friend who had gone through the same review. She provided equal parts of empathy, tough love, and information.

Here are my recommendations for when you get a piece of mail that makes the butterflies in your tummy do somersaults:

  • Put it down in a place that won’t nag at your brain
  • Set a time you will open it
  • Then create a reminder on your phone or computer or wherever to hold yourself accountable
  • When the time comes, read your mail and write out notes of your questions
  • Create a plan of action for your next steps, which may include asking community members for advice

Here’s the thing, we have a wonderful Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis patient community with members who are filled with helpful incites and facts. They will help answer questions if you ask. I completely acknowledge that asking for help from people you do or don’t know can be hard. But ignoring your problems, well it gets you nowhere fast.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • thedancingcrohnie moderator
    5 months ago

    Great tips for dealing with this dilemma. I too hate receiving mail from Doctor’s offices and Hospitals. Never a fun endeavor!

    Always dancing,
    Elizabeth (team member)

  • Jaime H moderator author
    4 months ago

    I know we aren’t alone in this. I’m watching it with my mother right now, as well, with her own medical issues. Hopefully, we can start a dialogue with others. xox

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