Jump to content
CrazyBoards.org

Avoidant disorder?


Recommended Posts

For several years now I've been speculating about whether I have Avoidant Personality Disorder.  I first learned about it in an psychology class, though that it kind of sounded like me, and filed it away mentally.  I was 21 then. 

Flash forward twelve years.  I lived alone for seven years and formed no close friendships of any kind.  A little over two years ago, I did manage to get married.

We've come to a mutual decision to end our marriage sometime next year, but we will always be friends. 

But as for everything else....I just never feel "comfortable" with other people.  I've never really felt like people were on my side, and that I was an object of humor to them.  I get very anxious working around others and prefer to be alone.  I can force myself to do things pretty well....I go to school and speak in class occasionally, and have a part-time job that I do okay in, but I feel like that's more a public self, not the real me.  And it puts a strain on me to have to do that. 

It just takes me a *long* time to get used to being around someone, and even then I have trouble dealing with people if I think they dislike me.

My wife says, half-jokingly, that I may have Asperger's...I guess some of my behaviors are the same, but some are not.

Anyway, I was browsing through the posts here and wondering if anyone had ever posted about avoidant personality or knew anything about it.  Insert a joke here about avoidants not wanting to post on a message board....   

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah, that's another one that I've speculated about through the years. 

There's just something that isn't quite "normal" in my relationships with others, and I don't know what it is exactly is or what it means.  When I do have some kind of relationship with someone [friendship or whatever] I defer to the other person almost exclusively, and tend to not express opinions that might be contradictory to what that person thinks, I guess because I'm afraid they will reject, make fun of, or otherwise get angry with me.  It's completely irrational.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No one here can tell you whether you have this or that personality disorder, though for what it's worth avoidant PDs would be very very unlikely to be actively pursuing the idea that they have avoidant PD. I've known a few.

Whatever specific type(s) of personality [disorders] you may have, there are different things you can do to improve your social existence, some of which may be essential. That is, if there are things you haven't learned that interfere with your ability to be comfortable with other people, form lasting relationships, navigate intimacy, etc, you either learn these things and overcome the difficulties or you don't and you don't. There's no other fix. The good news is that skills can be learned.

The hardest part is sometimes knowing what the problem is. With any type of mental issues. I myself have strong aspects of borderline and dependent PD, just fyi. In learning about these and related topics like developmental psych and emotional IQ and attachment disorders etc, I've really come to see the more granular roots of many of my issues, so that I no longer have to just have the vague idea that I have a "personality disorder". Of course these may be different issues from yours, but I've had similar results in terms of being more socially isolated than I'd like over long periods, and feeling anxiety or apprehension about social situations and intimacy. And yet those times when I am able to connect with others I feel much better than when I can't, I think because I'm human.

For me, issues interfering with social interaction include the following, many of which are common to more than one PD:

- Poorly developed ability to monitor, recognize, and regulate my emotions. I may not knwo why I feel a certain way, or even what I feel. Being able to respond to subtle emotional shifts and act in a way that takes feelings into account but also be capable of acting independently of emotions is essential to social relationships.

- Weak skills and unlearned knowledge of rules of social engagement. The social world is largely operating with unwritten rules, and these are learned by *everybody*. No one comes equipped with them. However only when you learn a particular rule do you even realize it's in effect. Failing to adhere to such rules (e.g. the progression of disclosure and overt signs of acceptance that is part of forming trust and establishing a sense of boundaries with another) can cause one to be ostracized, rejected, or treated as defective, all the while without anyone providing any usable clues as to why they are rejecting. This can continually reinforce:

- A battered sense of self-worth and inconsistent concepts of self and identity. I sometimes just feel that I'm shit because of how things have gone with other people, often without truly understanding why they went that way. The times when I can better understand why they go that way, I can better identify the skills I may need to develop further.

- Lots of triggers for fear of abandonment, abuse, and rejection, traceable to some traumas in my childhood and later years as well as a very emotionally invalidating environment growing up. When triggered, I can regress decades in my behavior and give myself real things to feel shitty about later as I may do things I should in theory be 100% aware are going to cause problems with others. But with PTSD and related conditions, reliving past emotions is inevitable and is part of the long-term process of better understanding your repressed feelings, which if approached with awareness of the condition can lead to better ability to monitor and control such feelings and integrate them into healthier self-expression and interaction (see point #1).

That's a lot, and I could go on and on. The overall point I'm making is that it is well worth the effort to dig deeper into the roots of your personality -- something most people don't ever do. Doing so is far more effective than blind trial and error, and can go very far in restoring (or developing) a sense of oneself as worthy, likable/lovable, and confident in real abilities to develop positive relationships and friendships. The more these things happen, regardless of the time required, the more you can enjoy an authentic social life.

Meanwhile, I have about zero social life at this point, so take all with a grain of salt. Oddly though, I have more of an authentic social life than I did even one year ago. Sometimes time alone is the healthy thing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh, also... heh...

Short of the potentially life-long task of examining your personality issues, making up for past developmental failures, re-parenting, etc, it is also wise to seek out those activities where you do feel positive about yourself and things don't go wrong, and just do them. Hobbies or roles at work, whatever. Even isolated activities may allow your system to reset and recharge for further social interaction, and some activities are better than others. For me, reading is better than TV, exercize helps, working out new tunes on the guitar is better than just playing old hat stuff. Writing is usually good. I guess I'm saying, anything that restores your sense of self-esteem, self-confidence, and can help you get in touch with your emotions and thinking can improve your social interactions.

Sorry for so much stuff, but I know so well what it's like to wonder "just what is wrong with me that I'm so alone all the time?" that I had to respond.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for all the advice.

I definitely have dependent traits [probably learned--lots of people in my family have the same ways of relating] but at the same time, when I'm not "entangled" with people I'm relatively happy and don't have anxiety. When I'm alone, I feel like I have this sense of freedom that I don't enjoy when I'm with other people, even with people I really care about.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Vapourware

Just my quick 2c.

@*j*: You might want to start off looking at Social Anxiety Disorder [sAD] / Social Phobia [sP] [same thing, different names]. Avoidant Personality Disorder [AvPD] is basically an extreme version of SP.

SP can come with dependent traits, similar to how you have described your relationships. Due to fear of rejection, some people with SP and AvPD may avoid making decisions and would defer to others.

Here is a comparison chart for SP and AvPD.

@Rabbit37: Yep, it's a real disorder!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

great stuff/i resemble those remarks....appreciate the candor...knowing one is not totally the only one while still knowing one is in one's own unique experience of the crazy places can truly be a comfort (and then again, at times, not so much)...

which one of those russian writers wrote:  happy families are all alike; unhappy families are unhappy in their own unique ways?

yeah, anyhoo -- like i said -- thx for the insights/info

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the thread - I have a provisional diagnosis but really didn't think they might be right until I read some of this...especially that link to a comparison chart.  At least the chart also says antidepressants can help as well as therapy and that further explains why I don't seem as bad sometimes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not dx:d as AvPD but Avoidancy is a key feature in my personality disorder.

For me, social interation and intimacy with people I'm close is rarely a problem. I can interact and have relationships with people I know well without triggering those pesky rejection feelings.

It is basically the rest of the world that is my problem. ;)

I don't initiate contact with other people for fear of rejection, I am constantly convinced that other people hate me or look down on me and I don't respond well to critizism. At all.

For me, I am fairly convinced that all those issues stem from my non existant self esteem. I have basically no feelings of self worth at all. Deep down in my dysfunctional brain I am convinced that people will reject me, regardless of what I do, because I'm worthless.

My pooly learned people skills does not help this at all, it is just another way of convincing me that I will be rejected beacuse I don't handle social situations very well.

Other than that, Amen to what Jemini said.

/V

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Social anxiety disorder isn't a personality disorder. And what I was saying was that *if* you lack certain skills, whether interpersonally or in dealing with your own thoughts and feelings, there's no way around learning them. A drug may make you feel better, but it will never give you skills you don't have. In the case of social anxiety, sometimes this is a case of being afraid of people because you lack skills to deal with them, other times it's just anxiety for other reasons, and other times it may be that you underestimate your social skills. So in many cases, being able to relax allows existing skills to emerge.

Personally, I'm working to get off the meds for good. That's my decision; I'm not saying it's wrong to use them. I know Klonopin eliminated my social anxiety and had many other benefits, but I'm willing to go back to where I was and learn how to overcome this as much as possible without the drugs. Overall the meds have done more harm than good in my life, and it's taken me 17 years to see just how much harm, because the effects are so insidious and subtle, and often long-term.

Off meds, I definitely fear social situations more, and anxiety or emotional noise definitely impact my functioning in negative ways. But I'm armed with a lot more self-knowledge than I used to have, and when I manage to get myself into social interactions, I do much better than I used to, in terms of feeling in control of myself, maintaining some emotional boundaries, etc. I know when and how I learned such things, and it wasn't some automatic thing that set in because my anxiety was reduced, though admittedly simply being able to relax was a prerequisite to exploring these things more.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Why wouldn't I try it? Because I've been there and done that. Several times have felt sooo much better from psych meds. The problem is that normal growth requires learning, much of which comes from hardship. I see drugs as a way to give you a crutch so that you're more able to learn and adapt to particularly debilitating states, but if you just accept them as the cure and don't adapt (with many of the biological alarms telling you to adapt being muted by the drugs), sooner or later, whatever's going on with you is going to find a way to poke it's head out of the water.

I'm glad you're being helped. Honestly. But the whole concept of a "cure" relies on the belief that there is a disease, which doesn't happen to be a belief I subscribe to.

To answer your questions.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Overall the meds have done more harm than good in my life, and it's taken me 17 years to see just how much harm, because the effects are so insidious and subtle, and often long-term.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Can you specify what you mean by this?  Like physical effects or mental?  That just piqued my curiousity.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...

According to tests I have done myself I have it too.  I officially have GAD so it wouldn't surprise me. 

I think I have a few personality disorders, but I'm not too concerned.  I figure treating the GAD and BP is priority.  Maybe the rest will sort itself out if I address the most disabling parts of my fucked up brain.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

While not diagnosed with AvPD (which may have something to do with the fact that if you have depression that is the ONLY thing psychiatrists, and often tdocs, will focus on), I have NEVER so strongly identified with an impersonal list of symptoms in my whole life.

P.S.  I looked at the comparison chart between AvPD and social phobia and under "treatment" for AvPD it says "Behavioral therapy consisting of graduated exposure, social skills training, and systematic de-sensitization."  What is the difference between the first and third things and what is social skills training??

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...