Avoidant Personality Disorder

<p>I recently stumbled upon this link:</p>

<p>Avoidant</a> personality disorder - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia</p>

<p>I demonstrate every single symptom on that list, except for the one about agoraphobia. After I read that page, there was absolutely no doubt in my mind that I have this. I've always attributed my preference for isolation to laziness or a personal choice, but I realize that's some sort of coping mechanism. This link explained so much for me -- why I've failed to make a single friend in college, why I stopped speaking in any of my classes after a professor bashed on me (quite ruthlessly, but he did it to everybody), why I never went back to the career fair after I struck out the first time, why none of my friendships in my entire life make it to the semblance of intimacy because I push people away before they have a chance to get to know me. A couple of days ago I even considered turning down a scholarship nomination from my department because I was too afraid to get recommendations from my professors. The only reason I ended up accepting the nomination was to avoid offending the professors who nominated me, and now I'm stressing out over something that would seem so trivial to anybody else.</p>

<p>Sorry if this was lengthy... it's more of a rant than anything, but I think I'm seriously depressed with my college life because of my reclusive nature. I wish I hadn't come into college so young; but even if I didn't, I don't know if that would've changed anything.</p>

<p>Anybody have any experience with some form of social anxiety that could help me out here though? I think I have to admit that I can't improve this condition on my own. I keep telling myself throughout every semester that I'll make at least one friend, get involved with campus activities, and go find an internship from the career fair, but nothing has happened. I was planning on scheduling an appointment with the school's counseling and mental health services after stumbling upon this link, but I've even managed to avoid that.</p>

<p>Any input is appreciated... even if you tell me to man up or something because I know it's somewhat ridiculous. Thanks in advance.</p>

<p>I've self-diagnosed myself with several cancers, heart diseases and neurological disorders. And guess what, I'm still kicking. I don't think you should take your own self-diagnosis too seriously.</p>

<p>If you really need help I'd recommend your school's mental health services. I'm not saying that in a mean way mind you, I'm saying that because a professional is probably gonna be WAY more helpful if you actually have a condition. Just force yourself to make that call and talk to a counselor.</p>

<p>Before you make up your mind about something like this, get a second opinion.</p>

<p>I'm with This on this.</p>

<p>I have problems dealing with people too. I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome a while back. </p>

<p>I'm sorry you haven't made a single friend in college. I was a sorry sap to notice that I didn't actually have any friends at all but people who were using me and driving my life into the ground with their going nowhere lifestyle. I preferred some sort of isolation like you when it came to something that called me to deal with others. I wanted to join clubs quite badly but anytime someone would approach me about it I would be sure to lift up my hood and hide from any of the members in the library. I had a huge problem just attending my first semester of classes because I was afraid of people judging me through the grades I made and also asking me for help. My social skills are pretty poor and I'm not easy to talk to in person if someone doesn't know me very well. The people who do get to know me, find me eccentric and constantly degrade or verbally abuse me to the point where I'm always depressed, but I don't want to hang around by myself like a loser in the library. I was also an honors student at one point but dropped out of the program partly because I was having huge problems with class discussion and not being able to contribute. I am taking communications 101 right now and after the first week already I am really stressed out. Beyond stressed and especially because this girl I like is in that class will see my awkward nature and mannerisms. </p>

<p>Despite having a lot of problems, I ditched my so-called "friends" last year and they ended up dropping out of college anyway. I made new friends through my major classes and it is not so hard to make those kind of friends because you generally end up spending a lot of time together studying. I don't know your major, but I pulled some late hours with my friends when we took Linear Algebra and Physics and we have formed a tight bond with our similar interest in mathematics and physics. Basically, my friendship with one of them started off as asking them if they had done their homework. Then, we started working together on homework. After that, we ended up eating lunch together between classes. Our group got bigger as more people wanted to study with us and we all started hanging out. You just have to find people who accept you for who you are and be willing to not take yourself so seriously, no matter what troubles you. It's only going to drive you crazy. Believe me, my psychologist a few years ago told me to keep a blog because I have a worry overload and I fill the thing routinely so I don't have a million things whirring around in my head. </p>

<p>My best advice is to try and forget you have a problem. Or maybe just embrace it and try to push past it because that's what I'm trying to do for my communications class. I've tried to stop caring what this girl might think and what others might think of me. The only thing that should really matter is that I believe in what I say and that I want other people to realize what I say has a value. Believe me, in my honors classes I took a huge portion of our grade was speaking in class. I always missed an A in my liberal arts classes because of the participation element. It's not that I didn't want to participate. I would read the chapter 10+ times and know exactly what to say, but it's the people who just outright say everything before you get a chance to put your 2 cents in. I have so much trouble coming up with what to say in class that I need to write it down first and read it to the class. But if it's just between me and someone else, I'm okay. I would try to listen to relaxing music or something like that. Try out new music styles and see what calms you down. For me, it's the anxiety that gets me bad. I don't take any drugs to reduce the anxiety either. The best thing to do is just put yourself out there and there are a million ways to do this. </p>

<p>The main thing you need to do is open up. Try to be a little more laid-back.</p>

<p>

Haha, I get what you mean, but I feel like there's no sense in denying it when every bullet point in the symptoms list matches up to me. Not only that, but they describe me extremely well. Part of me wants to believe that psychology has some sort of disorder to describe everybody, but the entire Wiki page accurately describes my motivations for being a recluse. I don't think I'd be posting here if I wasn't confident I had a problem. My parents and friends have joked that I have Asperger's before, but I've never actually believed it because although it's a pretty logical explanation for my mannerisms, it doesn't describe me at all. I had no trouble with social development when I was a kid, and I was actually quite the social butterfly until the middle of high school.</p>

<p>

I think by denying that I have a problem, I've only dug myself a deeper hole. Since high school, I've gradually become even more nervous and self-conscious when talking to people. I can't even look people in the eye when talking to them anymore.</p>

<p>As for making friends from studying, I've met up with "study buddies" for Engineering labs and problem sets, but they've never been more than that. I'd like to think that my talents and characteristic traits actually make me a pretty interesting person to be around, and I realize that people would be willing to befriend me if I didn't seem so distant all the time, but I just can't do it. Ugh, I guess I'm not getting anywhere with this... perhaps the impasse is completely self-imposed. I appreciate the encouragement and advice though.</p>

<p>Yay for another person with aspergers syndrome on the board :) -is one-</p>

<p>My best advice for you hun is to get into clubs that you share interests with (be it a lego building one to a photography one). Talk with those in your class.</p>

<p>Oh dear, eye contact. I have that issue. My advice there would be look at their forehead or their hair. Perhaps then you can jump back into looking into their eyes again.</p>

<p>It still would not hurt to see the school's mental health services.</p>

<p>Another little tidbit of info for you, just because a person has a problem, does not mean it defines them or rules them. Its just a little quark thats all. :)</p>

<p>I used to think I had that too. Turned out I just needed to just put myself out there and be more social, even when it seemed really hard. Now I'm happy and I think it's a bit silly I even thought I had a personality disorder in the first place. </p>

<p>Furthermore, I am a psychology student, and you simply CANNOT diagnose yourself with any kind of mental disorder if you have no skills in therapy. There's no way. A huge part of diagnosis is differential diagnosis and being able to compare your symptoms with other people's. Professionals see cases of mental illness every day and can quickly pick up what is symptomatic and what is not, and you yourself can't do that. Every psych disorders class I've had, the professors always urge us not to think we have every disorder we study...it's just easy to see general or even vague tendencies you have as "symptoms." Psychology is much more complicated than you think and lots of times conscious or self-reported behaviors don't tell the whole story.</p>

<p>Get a professional diagnosis. You can tell your psychologist of your concerns if you wish, but honestly he or she will probably not take that into account all that much.</p>

<p>wow- I think I have this too. Worst is that I am a foreigner. English is my second language -- so having this kind of disorder makes the assimilation process even harder. I don't like to talk because I have already convinced myself that I will only sound retarded. </p>

<p>Since I spent most of my life alone (not wanting to take risk), there is much to tell about my life -- boring.. and boring doesn't really attract anyone. Makes it even harder to make friends.</p>

<p>^ agreed @Rox .</p>

<p>Back when i was diagnosed with my issues i was reviewed by an entire pannel of psychologists and various tests/exams/scans (lol yes i had a brain scan once), not to mention all the stuff that my school did when they brought in testors (because i had to have an IQ test done apperently, i don't remember much of it).</p>

<p>Hmm, that's interesting to know, RoxSox. Thanks for the input! I think I definitely do want to meet up with a psychologist about this though.</p>

<p>yourname00, same here, sorta. I've always been really self-conscious about this lisp I have. Completely can relate to what you said at the end as well.</p>

<p>

hey pretty soon with dsm 5 shyness will be a mental illness. I don't think you could misdiagnose shyness, right eh?</p>

<p>I agree with those other posters about not diagnosing yourself. Maybe you do have some kind of mental issue, and it is time to figure that out with help. You can go to the school for help or if you have insurance look for someone outside of school. Advice from a professional will help a lot with this issue.</p>

<p>With that said, it is also important not to just dissolve into these feelings that keep you away from everyone and everything. Life is not easy. It might look like it is easy for other people, but we all have things that are hard for us. If you don't like the way that your life is then you have to do something about it.</p>

<p>If you push yourself in little ways, you can make some progress. If you can't face that teacher that gives everyone a ton of grief in class then stop a few students as they are leaving class one day and commiserate. Make a point of talking to people and becoming more social will become a habit. A therapist will be able to help with actual methodology to improve how you handle what is going on with you mentally. The truth is though that it is all up to you and only you can push yourself in the direction that you need to go.</p>

<p>It seems like more and more that people look for a good excuse to blame their behavior on. Someone slaps their girlfriend because their dad slapped their mom. Another drinks too much because they are addicted to alcohol. People eat too much because they are not happy. There are so many excuses and so many labels for things that are basically personal everyday choices.</p>

<p>We all have the choice to behave in a certain way. Just because you feel the inclination to act or be a certain way doesn't mean that you have to do that. You are just going with what is comfortable and familiar. If you have enough brains to be able to see that you have choices that you don't make because of discomfort then you can make another choice and point your life in another direction.</p>

<p>So maybe you do need help and possibly professional advice is a good idea. Just remember that we have free will. You can actually do the opposite of what you feel. I would suggest working with kids. Maybe volunteer at a day care or at an elementary school. Those kids will call you on whatever awkwardness that you have going on and tell you the truth.</p>

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<p>Please do seek help. That, by the way, would be completely consistent with the concept of "manning up"; sometimes the bravest, most adult thing you can do is admit you can't figure something out on your own. Will you please keep us posted on what happens?</p>

<p>oh mthames,</p>

<p>if only things were as simple as you say. While I agree with you that pathological thought processes should not be considered independent agents, the idea that one can just decide not to listen to them is very naive. You learned as a kid that if any part of your body touches a burning stove, it's going to hurt and burn very badly. In 99% of circumstances, I couldn't convince you to put your face down on a burning stove because you know how much it's going to hurt/burn you. Many believe this is analogous to psychological development. At some point you learned that social interaction is painful, or that hitting your gf is the only way to express yourself, or that eating is the only thing that makes you happy. Obviously these are incorrect modes of thought, but to assume they aren't so deeply ingrained into one's mind such that they seem infallible is offensive. It's going to take more than simply "I'm going to do this" to get over it. (Feel free to post a picture of your burned face if you disagree).</p>

<p>OP, (and btw, this should not at all be considered medical advice. I am not a medical professional, just a med student)</p>

<p>The fact that you entered college prematurely, you still go to class, and your statement regarding study buddies makes me lean away from a personality disorder. That's not to say that nothing is wrong and that you couldn't benefit from therapy or that you should just get over it, but personality disorders are typically so pervasive in life, that (at least for the cases I've seen in med school) people with avoidant tend to fear criticism to such an extreme degree that going outside and being seen by people in any capacity scares them. You seem to just have more extreme reactions to things that everybody finds at least a little scary (making new friends, saying things in class, joining a new club, asking for LORs), not things like calling a restaurant for delivery, signing for a prescription, or being judged for how you're crossing the street which one patient they showed us did.</p>

<p>I know exactly how you feel. Sometimes I get so flustered around people that I stumble over my words and then when I realize how much of an idiot I sound like, I stutter even more. It's HORRIBLE but the crazy thing is, I have no reason to act so awkward. I'm the kind of person who tends to attract positive company, but for some reason, I get the feeling that no one TRULY wants to be my friend so I kind of brush people off or hide my real self from them since I've been hurt in the past (back in my high school days where everyone was shady). But I've been working on it though. I'm learning not to sell my self short, learning to be more open and speak up more because seriously--what have I got to lose? We think people are singling out every single one of our flaws, but in reality, it's never that serious. No one really cares THAT much about other people's flaws, because they're worrying about their own. Chances are "awkward penguin" that people are nearly as insecure as you and are willing to be your friend if you don't seem too stand-offish. Think of it this way, the more insecure you are about your flaws (which could most likely be all in your head), the more you miss out on life (and THEN you're life will be as crappy as you think it is). Just some words of advice, I hope they made sense :)</p>

<p>Obviously you can't completely self-diagnose, but there's a difference between deciding you have some sort of social anxiety disorder based on the fact that you're anxious in social situations and deciding you have cancer because you read a list of symptoms. If you're not making friends and it bothers you, there's something there that needs to be fixed. It may not be exactly what you think it is or as bad as you think it is, but by all means try to get help.</p>

<p>^Well yeah. You can obviously look at different disorders and if there's one or several that you identify with, then you know you should maybe go see a professional. But you can't actually say that you have that disorder or self-diagnose yourself at all.</p>