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Can you tell me more about AvPD?

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Okay, okay, I know I'm not supposed to self-diagnosing!

But I was looking at the new DSM-V website, particularly the eating disorders category (still think they've got it all wrong, but hey). And then I hapened to come aross this page: http://www.dsm5.org/ProposedRevisions/Pages/proposedrevision.aspx?rid=20

When I read it, I burst into tears and ran to the bathroom to hide.

...Which is to say, I calmly read the page and a few others, then slowly made my way to the bathroom in a casual manner so nobody would think anything, and THEN I burst into tears and cried for the next, oh, hour. To make sure everyone had left work so they wouldn't see that I'd been crying.

Oh, my good lord, I have always been this way. JUST TODAY I was complaining about myself because I've been isolating away from my boyfriend, for fear that he'll hate me if he finds out the "truth" about me. I cringe at every passerby on the street. The only time I feel at peace is if I am all alone and assured there's nobody to see or interrupt. I was SO upset all this week because - get this - someone was mean to me online. @_@ But because their comments reflected my horrible self-hatred, I suffered for days. I can't finish my work at my job or at school, because when I get too stressed my brain checks out and I just avoid thinking about it completely. Most of all, I've always wondered if my extremely detailed fantasy lives were something everyone did, or if they were some bizarre way of dealing with stress, or a way to feel emotions I think I'll never have the opportunity to have (like intimacy).

Right at this very moment I'm avoiding the "friends" downstairs drinking and playing games. I wasn't expecting them over, and so I''m not "psyched up" and mentally prepared to deal with them.

I know, I know - bring it up with the Pdoc. (Still waiting to hear back, prolly next week some time.)

But, is anyone else here Avoidant? Can you describe it too me? The clinical versions are so dry.

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I think you just described it very well. A lot of your issues I have. If I wasn't borderline, I'd be avoidant. Or rather, my avoidant personality and borderline personality are one and the same. At the root of both is a real fear of abandonment and low self-value.

I'm afraid I can't explain it in a nonclinical way, since that's usually how I express myself. I guess the behavior is mostly avoiding conflict, which can lead to being distant or clinging, to having detailed fantasy lives because you have trouble engaging in life in which conflict in inevitable, and you go out of your way to please others, sometimes at the expense of pleasing yourself. Is that too clinical?

Definitely discuss it with your tdoc or pdoc for confirmation, but you know the dangers of an armchair diagnosis, so that was just a cursory disclaimer.

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(Note: I've been avoiding reading the responses to this thread for fear that people would yell at me for self-diagnosing again. @_@ )


It's funny that you can't describe it any other way than clinical, because I'm the same way. I have a tendency to intellectualize all emotions. When asked to describe how I feel, I can't do it.

As far as Borderline vs Avoidant, I'm not sure if one better describes me or not. I don't generally "lash out" in anger, which people generally associate with Borderline, but I'm aware there are those who "lash in" or are "high functioning" who only freak out when pushed - which is definately me.

But there are things that BPD doesn't explain. "Fantasy lives" is a big one I've always wondered about. I've never told ANYONE the extent of my fantasies, because they embarass me, but I don't just dream stories or wishful things - I live other people's entire lives. I was always pretty sure other people didn't do that. And I've come to realize over the years that I do it because I don't like my own emotions - or I feel they're inaccessable, or not allowed, or something.

And it's why I'm plunging towards anorexia with such gusto - I feel that it gives me an identity, while at the same time giving me a mental focus, so I don't have to think about Everything Else.

As for pleasing others, in my last relationship I felt that it was inevitable that my lover would never truly understand me or the extent to which I loved her, but that so deep was my love that I should sacrifice my entire happiness to serve her (all very romantic) - while at the same time isolating myself emotionally from her. When we broke up she took most of the blame for cheating on me, but now I believe that I was pushing her away years before that. But I was self-damningly subservient to her, while at the same time manipulating her (unintentionally) to beleive that the problems were all hers. Not that she was perfect in any way, but I can see now that my unnoticed issues were a serious block.

And now, in my current, I know I'm isolating myself again, because I believe I'm Doomed to Failure, becuase I'm a horrible, damaged person, so I've already started "letting go". (While actually, I'm probably CAUSING the problems.)

Alpam: It was like a clap of thunder for me. Definately bring it up to

your Pdoc. Despite all my anxiety, the intelligent part of my brain knows that the best advocate for your health is Yourself.

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Okay, so I'm going to be unpopular here.

But it's impossible to accurately diagnose yourself with a personality disorder, because you don't always have the insight and objectivity necessary to make an even and fair assessment. A personality disorder is something complex that develops over time, and it needs to be assessed over time by a professional. I know you say you know to wait for a pdoc, but I'm concerned that you're doing yourself harm by doing all this research.

We all have a unique personality. We all have traits of different personality disorders, even healthy people without MI have these aspects to themselves. Personality disorders are clusters of behaviour that are considered maladaptive and that interfere with everyday life and become a sickness. One or two traits on their own, or many traits some of the time, are not considered pathological. I have some of those traits for AvPD. Lots of people do. The point is, it's rare to find someone who has them the majority of the time, all the time, to the point where it interferes in their life constantly.

You won't be helping your self image and confidence in life by labelling yourself with a personality disorder.

I'm glad that you found something that makes you feel like you can identify with it. I want you to figure this issue out. But I caution you against browsing the DSMV and trying to apply the descriptions to yourself. It's a very cackhanded way of doing things that can create more damage in terms of what you end up believing about yourself. Let the professionals do their job. I'm sure you'd rather have a diagnosis that is tried and tested and accurate, than you would torture yourself over normal human failings and flaws that you may not even have to a great degree.

You're your own worst critic and not your own best friend right now. I wouldn't expect you to hit upon your disorder by internet research alone. At least when a pdoc tells you have a personality disorder, you can know you can trust that opinion, and they will offer a solution. Looking online for the answer to your problems is unlikely to help you in the long term. It can create conflicts with the pdocs that are trying to help, and become fuel for the self hatred.

I say that in love because I care a lot about you, but it's a lesson I learned that hard way.

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Yummy: I tried to reply yesterday, but the Monday holiday left me stuck with the homebased laptop. My personal nemisis. Anyhow, I'll second Karuna's caution to you. I can hardly fault you for researching the Hell out of what ails you, you may well become caught in the Fun House hall of mirrors, where every image is distorted. Your focus is far too much on the identification of faults/problems. You have plenty of those, welcome to humanity. Lots of treating professionals are just fine at this process. The good ones focus much more on overcoming them.

Probably better that you avoided the drinking/partying crowd while you are sorting out a lot of self-destructive behaviors.

Fortunately, you identify how much energy and time you engage in fantasizing about other people's lives. Learn how to check it. Your fantasy perceptions may be accurate or wildly off base. In any event you're not living in the moment. My inner linguist would say that you are living in the Subjunctive tense.

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RE: Fantasies

I live an alter ego's life in my head most of the time. I get some of it out by writing fiction, but I still spend hours living in an alternate universe. I've been a dreamer all my life, and it's certainly easier than going out and failing at being human. So I just wanted to say that I understand that part.

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  • 4 months later...

I know this thread is older than jesus but I didn't want to start one.

I am pretty much avoidant PD, not exactly 100% textbook, but pretty damn close to textbook.

It is very much tied up in my mood disorder; and by this I mean my predisposition to depression set me up to develop avoidant personality. As well as my genetics, as I come from a long line of fearful inhibited people who avoid relationships as part of a non-pathological personality. The combination of my genetic temperament plus my biological mood disorder vulnerability plus social rejection during development as well sealed the deal and so I have this ingrained pathological way of socially relating.

Here's how it's like:

At one point in my life I was agoraphobic and didn't leave the house for 4 yrs. This was also related to depression, but my avoidant personality played a role in that. When I start to become depressed, the avoidant personality fear of leaving the house and interacting with people becomes stronger. Even leaving the house used to be very difficult, sometimes it still is.

I am totally socially isolated. I have no friends or relationships. I have been totally isolated personally speaking for over a decade.

I live a fantasy life on the computer. I escape myself and the consciousness of being with others, as it is unbearable.

I used to hate myself intensely, but over time I have learned to be more moderate in my self concept. resolving the bulk of my depression helped very much with self concept. At one point I was underweight due to restrictive eating behavior as a direct result of my poor self esteem and concept (and again, mood stuff played a role in this too).

Whenever I am around people there is a voice which makes me feel bad about myself. I see people and on some level I feel like they are talking about me or thinking bad things about me. This is usually an unconscious feeling (i.e. I am not consciously aware of it) but sometimes I will have conscious thoughts that people I am next to don't like me and think I am intolerable.

I want to emphasize this point: I go about my daily life with a low grade feeling of worthlessness and inferiority whenever I have to interact with other people. It is chronic, and it is always there regardless of mood. It makes me want to hide and withdraw but I have to keep going on or else it will only get worse as I know from many years of being alive as myself.

When my mood is active expressive and energetic, the thoughts are still there, but my reaction is different. I will become paranoid and/or angry and aggressive or laugh at the other people who "don't like me". When I am depressed, the thoughts are amplified a lot and I tend to become very sad and tearful. When my mood is more balanced, the thoughts are there but mild and I cope with them best at that time.

I can only deal with my social defectiveness by avoiding socialization. I literally cannot socialize. I can't do it. The feelings are too overwhelming and it is too painful and uncomfortable and miserable to be in personal social situations.

There are times, on occasion, in certain circumstances where I can have personal conversations and even actively engage in social behavior (e.g. having a long conversation in a friendly way), but that's rare, and the whole time I feel pretty bad.

I've learned a lot over the years on how to cope with this. Improving my mood has helped a lot, and I have learned a lot of coping mechanisms for the negative self evaluation and feelings of inferiority. But, I have not been able to crack the isolation.

In a way I have learned to utilize the isolation as a coping mechanism. The isolation is a source of further negativity for many people with avoidant PD but for me, the isolation is a great way to relieve pressure from it, with no rebound negativity involved. Many with avoidant PD get into a cycle of feeling bad in social situations leading to more isolation leading to feeling worse... but for me, avoiding and isolating is essential to help modulate my feelings. The more socially exposed I am, the worse I feel, and when I go home and am alone, the low grade feeling of inferiority improves and I can recharge.

I suppose this is the part of avoidant PD I don't really meet - the classic textbook avpd person is in a lot of distress over their isolation, whereas I am not. I am somewhat distressed about it, meaning to say I wish I were "normal socially" and could have at least some relationships without feeling terrible all the time, but I am able to cope with it and accept it and deal with the fact that for whatever reason socializing is just too damned painful and difficult for me. I can see the good and the bad in the isolation.

When I was younger I was much more distressed about my isolation, now that I am older I have reached a meditative acceptance of this. Some people, I suppose, are just meant to be solitary much of the time. I view it from a karmic perspective. Maybe I am wrong but it is the best I can do and I am okay with that. I've done a lot for myself over the years, I've done more than almost anyone else could have done given where I started from, I am okay with that.

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