Friday, 24 March 2017

The Truth About Avoidant Personality Disorder.

I recently ran a poll over on Twitter asking whether people want to know about avoidant personality disorder (AvPd) and my experience of it and you all said yes.

In this post, I hope to educate you on what AvPD is and how it makes me feel on a daily basis. 
If you have any questions please feel free to contact me or leave them in the comments.

So what is AvPD?

Here is the definition based on information gathered from the web.
There are different types of personality disorders. They can be broadly grouped into 3 clusters: A, B and C.
Avoidant personality disorder falls into cluster C.
Cluster C disorders are anxiety based.
Someone with AvPD can appear painfully shy, is socially inhibited, feels inadequate and is extremely sensitive to rejection. They desire close relationships but lack the confidence and ability to form them. It is a very complex disorder and research suggest that between 1.8% and 6.4% of the UK populations suffer from it. Though I have yet to find another person with it.

A list of typical symptoms:
  • Avoids occupational activities that involve significant personal contact because of fear, criticism, disapproval or rejection
  • Intensified sensitivity and emotions
  • Is unwilling to get involved with people unless certain of being liked
  • Shows restraint within intimate relationships because of fear or shame/ridicule
  • Is preoccupied with being criticised or rejected in social situations
  • Is inhibited in social situations because of feeling inadequate
  • Views themself as socially inept, personally unappealing and inferior to others
  • Is unusually reluctant to take personal risks or engage in new activities through fear of embarrassment

Treatments include many types of therapy but the condition itself isn't treatable. As far as I understand, psychotherapy's are available but not often sought by those with AvPd.
Medication isn't prescribed because it isn't effective but if necessary, symptoms like anxiety or depression may require medical intervention.

How it affects me.

I often define AvPd as social anxiety on steroids. 
It's easy to sit and read a list of symptoms but to know an illness, you have to ask someone that lives with it. Before I was diagnosed by my psychiatrist I had NO idea what AvPd was. I didn't even know personality disorders were a thing. But when he read the symptoms to me, the pieces just fit and I finally knew that it was AvPd that had ruled my life for as long as I can remember.
I have always been this way. There has never been a time when I haven't hated myself or criticised my every movement, thought and feeling. Even as a child I was this way.

It is all consuming and exhausting.
With AvPd there is no escape. No relief. It's always there. 
It's like living your life under a microscope. All eyes on you at every moment.
My fear of social situations alongside constant self critical and intrusive thoughts were so intense that for 3 years I didn't leave my house. I cut contact with all the people I knew and avoided all forms of social interaction. 
Even to this day, I have to be accompanied by someone I trust when I do go out. 

I can't be a typical 21 year old. AvPd has stolen my freedom from me.

I can't work an average job. 
I can't have a normal relationship with anyone. 
Public transport is the enemy.
 I feel like everything I do is being scrutinised by every pair of eyes in the vicinity.
 I have to psych myself up for the simplest of tasks. 
I can't pay for items in a shop.
I take things very personally when I know I shouldn't.
I always feel like I've done something wrong or something to embarrass myself. 
I constantly dwell on embarrassing things I've done and relive those feelings daily.
I miss out on many great opportunities and am deeply saddened by that.
I constantly criticise myself and compare myself to others. 
I have to fight the idea in my head that I am worthless every single day.
My self esteem is non existent.
I want to avoid everyone, all the time but hate being alone. I am incredibly lonely.
I get stuck in my own thoughts a lot.
I suffer with really bad insomnia.
I never feel good enough and am easily intimidated.
Although I love my blog, I constantly feel ashamed of it and compare it to others.
I feel inferior to every person I meet.

Another thing that bothers me is that I am constantly misunderstood. 
People take my anxiety and reluctance to get involved as a sign I don't like them or care enough about them. I am lucky to have amazing friends that don't push me into anything. Everything is on my terms and I love them for being so understanding but in general, people are not so accepting.
I am constantly being thought of as rude, dismissive, selfish..lazy even.
In truth, I am often reclusive, always anxious and criticising myself into the ground. I'm fighting an inner war with myself every day and it's hard. I want so badly to fit in and get involved but it physically pains me to do so. I try and push myself to socialise and be 'normal' but it takes it out of me and sometimes I just don't have the energy to try in the first place. I feel like I spend a lot of time recovering and building myself back up ready for the next task.
This all deepens the depression and general anxiety I already suffer from my Bipolar disorder.

Avoidant personality disorder is a big deal and I hope this sheds some light on that.

If you'd like more information about this or would like to know how to access support/treatment then visit Mind.
And if there's anything you want to ask or talk to me about please don't hesitate.



  1. I've never heard of AvDP but I can definitely relate to some of the symptoms. I do suffer with anxiety and some days are worse than others. I definitely will look into this more though x

    1. Not many people have heard of it and it's a real shame because it's so debilitating. No harm in learning more about it x

  2. You are amazing to be so young and so self aware. I commend you for seeking professional help. Although you face many challenges I'm glad to hear you have a support system. I wish you the best on your journey. Thank you for being so brave to share your story!

    1. Thank you for your kind words and thank you for reading x