By: Alyssa Zaunz
I feel like not many people have talked about this on this platform, since it affects only 1 percent of the general population according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR). So I’m going to try and explain what avoidant personality disorder (AvPD) is and what it feels like, in hopes it may help others to understand.
Please remember that not everyone has all symptoms like me, or experiences them in the exact same way as I do.
First of all, avoidant personality disorder (AvPD) is the “feeling of extreme social inhibitions, inadequacy and sensitivity of negative criticism and rejection.” That means we will often avoid work, school or any social situation. Avoidant people constantly isolate themselves for fear of criticism or rejection.
AvPD feels like being unwelcome in social situations, not being able to fit in or to be a part of something. We feel like we don’t belong in the group or the situation.
AvPD is not being able to leave your comfort zone because of fear and anxiety. We want to leave it so badly; we just can’t. We have a strong desire for close relationships, but our shyness and anxiety is too strong.
AvPD is avoiding physical contact because we associate it with something unpleasant or painful. We hate being touched by strangers or people we don’t trust enough. It’s something that makes us uncomfortable, especially if it’s without our permission or totally unnecessary. A simple handshake or a hug can become too much.
AvPD is self-loathing, because of our low self-esteem and high self-consciousness. It’s the feeling of being unimportant and inferior to others, or the feeling of never being good enough, no matter how much we try. And we start hating ourselves because everything seems to be our fault.
AvPD is being your own worst critic to the point your self-perception tells you no one cares or likes you. It makes you hate yourself more every time you can’t socialize the way you want.
AvPD is distancing yourself emotionally from other people because of trust issues, and the feelings of getting betrayed or embarrassed at any moment. We often just can’t talk about ourselves and our problems because we feel like no one wants to know and understand us.
AvPD is not being able to ask for help because of fear of rejection.
AvPD is not being able to have intimate relationships because of the fear of being shamed or ridiculed.
AvPD is being unable to talk, even though you want to add something to the conversation, and you get frustrated about it later on.
AvPD is not being able to stand up for yourself or disagree with someone because you feel too anxious and don’t want to be hated.
AvPD is being scared of public places, so you avoid them at any cost.
AvPD is becoming dependent because you are only able to go out with someone with whom you’re comfortable.
AvPD is not being able to take personal risks or try new activities because you’re scared of doing something wrong and getting embarrassed.
AvPD is binging food, series, music, films, books, games, anything, just to escape reality and forget our feelings.
Avoidant personality disorder is isolating yourself to the point you can’t even leave your room to put the trash out.
But avoiding all kinds of situations doesn’t make us happy; it’s exhausting and it makes us miserable. We are aware of this self-isolation and the symptoms we experience every day. We know we are being uncomfortable in a social situation; we know our avoidance and anxiety is illogical; we know we are being socially inept.
All this makes us feel guilty; we feel like a failure because we can’t do the things that seem so “normal” for everyone else. It drops our already low self-esteem to the bottom. We isolate ourselves because it’s our only coping mechanism and we completely lost control over it.