Avoidant Personality Disorder - no escape

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posted on Apr, 9 2012 @ 12:37 PM
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Hi Everyone,

I have AvPD. I'm now 28 and I've had it since I was around 14, although I didn't feel the effects of it very strongly back then.

AvPD affects about 1.6% of the population as a whole, so it's not a very common disorder. AvPD is hard to describe, but it basically makes people socially awkward/inept. It is not a fear of social situations, but it does cause stress. People who have AvPD generally have much more activity in response to stimuli going on in the frontal lobe of the brain - so much, that it is overwhelming. Any social situations, especially those which require unplanned interactions cause stress and tension for people with AvPD. (for more info, see here: en.wikipedia.org...)

I have a strong dislike of small-talk/chit chat for example. In fact, so much so - that when I hear small talk going on, I get an almost instant headache which lasts for a week or more. I've had my current headache now for a few weeks, with no stop and it is causing sleep problems. The headaches aren't small ones - they affect my concentration to the point where I can't think at all. My mind is blank and numb.

Even moments which should be happy ones cause this for me. My parents took me and my brother out to a restaurant the other day, and as soon as we arrived I felt uneasy because of the number of people and I could feel myself spacing out - becoming distant from everything and lost in the background noise.

Everyday I dread the thought of going to work - not because of the work, but because of the forced social interactions. In fact, the work itself is great (I'm a graphics programmer) - it allows me to turn off from the outside world for a bit and focus on something I can do.
In my office, I hear people laughing and joking non-stop in the background - and I feel completely at odds with it. The jokes seem small and childish to me, the conversations hollow and devoid of any real meaning. I wish I could enjoy it the same way everyone else seems to - but I can't. It actually infuriates me to hear the conversations people have - I feel so distant from it, I could never take part in the gossipy rubbish most people seem to enjoy. It saddens me.

I try to be social - I actually forced myself to try something new a few years ago, so I moved abroad and started teaching English as a foreign language. It forced me to be social and talk more with people. After 4 years though, I find myself unable to face it - it feels completely alien and wrong suddenly, so I've returned to what I previously did - programming.

Unfortunately - medication doesn't seem to help. I was given several types of tablets before, which seem to be related to stress. They made me feel drowsy and tired more than have any other effects though. The problem is, this is a personality disorder. Personality disorders are not really treatable.

The advice I've found is to try and develop coping strategies, but so far I haven't thought of any. I put in headphones in the office, but I feel like it's rude and I know people have already started thinking of me as the odd-one out because of the lack of social interaction on my part. I really wish I could talk with them, even just so I didn't appear so cold and distant - but whenever I am in a moment of social interaction, my mind becomes completely blank and I freeze - I try to search for anything to say, but literally nothing arrives - so after several seconds, I usually just say "yeah" or "uh-huh", because I can't find anything to say.

As I said, I don't feel shy - I have no fear of people. I just find myself completely unable to relate to most people. Occasionally I meet someone who may have something interesting to say and not just gossip about celebrities and empty chit-chat about the weather or how drunk everyone got on the weekend.

It's really hard to keep jobs. In fact - my last boss fired me because he said I wasn't social enough with the rest of the team - even though I'd fulfilled all my duties and always offered assistance when needed. I just didn't 'fit in'.
I don't think I'll ever really 'fit in'.

I have my own registered company, as I've also tried working as a freelancer from home, as I thought this would solve the social interaction problems I face, but in order to succeed in business or in any avenue of life, social interaction is essential.

I'm really not looking for empathy - but I'd be interested to hear the experiences of any others out there with AvPD and their coping strategies. Also, opinions and suggestions are also welcome

Thanks for taking the time to read this.




posted on Apr, 9 2012 @ 12:44 PM
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Sounds like just another ploy to attack introverts.

I have lived this "disease" all my life. I cope and function just fine without any meds, thank you very much big pharma but I do not need your services to "fix" me.

Can't give any advice really as my method works for me but maybe not for others. I learned that if you just say F-you or F-it to those things that put you in a position you do not want to be in and just do your thing, whatever that may be. Try not to let other people or other things bother you. For those things that truly do not matter, let it slide. If it does not fall along the lines of the basic survival necessities, food, water, shelter and security I can create a mindset to just blow everything else off and just ignore it.

edit on 9-4-2012 by Skewed because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 9 2012 @ 12:53 PM
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You are introverted therefor you are flawed.



posted on Apr, 9 2012 @ 01:02 PM
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The problem is your looking for meaning in social interaction; social interaction has little, if anything to do with complex, valuable conversation, and everything to do with vibing. People make jokes for amusement, not to discover the meaning of life (though the meaning of life could very well be amusement).

Try to shut off your brain and just vibe next time your in a social setting. Think little, if at all, and just feel the energy of the environment, let it flow through you. Introversion is lack of social momentum; build social momentum and you'll naturally find yourself taking on extrovert mannerisms.

There is really no point to social interaction, so don't try to look for a point. It's just something we dumb animals do.



posted on Apr, 9 2012 @ 01:07 PM
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Originally posted by Skewed
Can't give any advice really as my method works for me but maybe not for others. I learned that if you just say F-you or F-it to those things that put you in a position you do not want to be in and just do your thing, whatever that may be.
edit on 9-4-2012 by Skewed because: (no reason given)


Yeah - this is how I currently get by. Whenever put in awkward social situations, I tend to grind my teeth and just wait until it's over without saying much. It would be great if there was an easier way.



posted on Apr, 9 2012 @ 01:07 PM
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OP,

Are you seeing a therapist or counselor? Someone who might give you concrete strategies to practice to help you cope with the anxiety inherent in your condition?

You mentioned you've tried medicaqtions. Have you tried anti-anxiety medicines? There are several medications that might help relieve some of the anxiety, but that's your and your doctor's call.

I don't have your disorder, but I am an introvert and would rather be alone anytime possible. But I'm a teacher, social interaction is kinda required. Who knew.


There are mental exercises you can do whenever you start to feel out of control or overwhelmed. Deep breathing exercises, mental relaxation, yoga, or even just power-walk and get the endorphines pumping.

With regards to your co-workers, have you considered letting them know what's going on? Sure, some will probably think you're nuts or just a jerk, but I bet others will be very understanding and sympathetic. Nothing ventured, nothing gained...and you just might help someone who struggles with the same thing.

Above all else, don't let the rude responses here on ATS deter you. Good luck to you, if you ever need to talk justs PM me.

smylee



posted on Apr, 9 2012 @ 01:11 PM
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Originally posted by DestroyDestroyDestroy
The problem is your looking for meaning in social interaction; social interaction has little, if anything to do with complex, valuable conversation, and everything to do with vibing. People make jokes for amusement, not to discover the meaning of life (though the meaning of life could very well be amusement).

Try to shut off your brain and just vibe next time your in a social setting. Think little, if at all, and just feel the energy of the environment, let it flow through you. Introversion is lack of social momentum; build social momentum and you'll naturally find yourself taking on extrovert mannerisms.

There is really no point to social interaction, so don't try to look for a point. It's just something we dumb animals do.


Don't you find it tedious to listen to meaningless conversations? To hear the same tired lines over and over again? It seems to me, much of this stems from social norms, and etiquette gone mad.

I understand people make jokes for amusement. It's not that I can't find jokes funny - but the ones most people seem to find funny, I find degrading to humanity.

You are probably right, and I need to learn to take things less seriously and learn to turn my brain off. But that's the point. I don't know how. It's not as easy as it sounds.



posted on Apr, 9 2012 @ 01:12 PM
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I relate to your situation and struggle, which is one reason I value the internet and particularly ATS, a place to share and communicate without so many pressures. A lot of the frustration comes from caring what others think too, which even though we know that should not be such a force in our daily lives, it still is. I think we are sometimes hyper sensitive, in that I have described the feeling of being overstimulated around people, as in the energy bugs me out, as well as the small talk.
Someone sent me this vid and link that I found interesting and it may be something to consider.

www.hsperson.com...
Use the illusion? Perhaps it is a gift.
I can say that I was in my late 20's when things got to be somewhat unnerving, and now in my 40's I am much better. The issue is still there, but it does not control me. Medications? Well I guess that is between you and the professionals, but I would seek other options too.
I think filling our idle time with creative endeavors, as well as being active in doing things outside has helped tremendously.

Best wishes to you...
spec
edit on 9-4-2012 by speculativeoptimist because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 9 2012 @ 01:14 PM
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reply to post by SecretSky
 


There is a way.
Refuse to play along.
Do not let society tell you what you "should" do or "should not" do.
You do what you want to do when you want to do it, and if people do not like it, then too damn bad, get over it.



posted on Apr, 9 2012 @ 01:18 PM
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reply to post by smyleegrl
 


Hi Smylee - thanks for your comment. No, I'm not currently seeing a counselor/therapist for this - actually, I don't know where any are here, or how to go about contacting them.

I've taken medication against anxiety/stress (I forget the name, but it was something beginning with Z), and also magnesium supplements. Unfortunately, they didn't seem to make me less anxious but sleepy and tired to the point where I found it difficult concentrating.

I've thought about telling the people I work with about this condition - I feel a bit uncomfortable about it. I worry a bit, it'll make me even more distant from them. Actually, I find it difficult speaking to anyone about problems - probably why I'm posting this on ATS.

Everyday in the mornings I walk a few miles to work - this is the best part of my day really. I have to walk over a hill at around 7am every morning, so I get to see the sun rise and look out over a river which is usually covered with mist.

RE: Breathing techniques and yoga - I used to get Panic attacks at night, so learned deep breathing techniques which work. I haven't tried Yoga though - thanks for the suggestion



posted on Apr, 9 2012 @ 01:31 PM
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reply to post by speculativeoptimist
 


That was interesting thanks - I watched the video. I wasn't aware of the HSP term before - I'm from UK, so I'm wondering if this is a common term in USA?

I also read the link you gave about the magnetic resonance tests used - it's quite funny, as I've always found myself getting on fine with people of different cultures (sometimes better than with people of my own culture).

Thanks for the reply - I suppose the main thing for me now is to work out a strategy for dealing with the mental paralysis and headaches I get from social interactions. Some way to avoid it, or get rid of it completely.



posted on Apr, 9 2012 @ 01:35 PM
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reply to post by SecretSky
 


I seriously doubt there is anything wrong with you. It is just who you are. To me, you appear introverted and considering the fact that the ratio is 75% extroverted and 25% introverted, we introverts have a tough obstacle to overcome right out of the gate. We live in an extroverted society where the whole expects everyone to be extroverted. The problem being, extroverts cannot relate to introverts, but for some reason the introverts can relate to the extroverts. Ever be sitting somewhere and a person or persons continuously approaches you and asks: "Is there something wrong?" More than likely that person is an extrovert and cannot stand the fact that someone can sit back and not have to say a word and just relax and absorb what is going on around them.
edit on 9-4-2012 by Skewed because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 9 2012 @ 01:36 PM
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reply to post by SecretSky
 

I know this sounds over simplified, but when you get hit with a wave of stress or panic, maybe try a quick breathing exercise. Take 7 breaths, and on each one count to 7 on the inhale and 7 on the exhale, for a total of seven times.
This lowers blood pressure and can relax the stress physically. I have used this in numerous settings and it offers some immediate relief, whereas unchecked, that stress just kind of takes over our body, mind and spirit.

Peace,
spec



posted on Apr, 9 2012 @ 01:42 PM
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reply to post by Skewed
 


I agree with you, I am an introvert; so in some sense, there is nothing wrong with me.
AvPD is a disorder though because the effects disrupt normal functioning. I don't know if I made it clear enough in my original post, but even small doses of social interaction give me headaches which make it difficult to concentrate on anything for weeks or more. It disrupts my sleep because the headaches are too bad to sleep with.

I get the headaches from sitting in a room with people having a background conversation, having to deal with people making chit-chat in shops. Relating what I did during my weekend to colleagues etc. Even overhearing conversations on the bus can give me headaches for days...

Thanks again for your comments



posted on Apr, 9 2012 @ 02:44 PM
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Originally posted by SecretSky
reply to post by smyleegrl
 


Hi Smylee - thanks for your comment. No, I'm not currently seeing a counselor/therapist for this - actually, I don't know where any are here, or how to go about contacting them.

I've taken medication against anxiety/stress (I forget the name, but it was something beginning with Z), and also magnesium supplements. Unfortunately, they didn't seem to make me less anxious but sleepy and tired to the point where I found it difficult concentrating.

I've thought about telling the people I work with about this condition - I feel a bit uncomfortable about it. I worry a bit, it'll make me even more distant from them. Actually, I find it difficult speaking to anyone about problems - probably why I'm posting this on ATS.

Everyday in the mornings I walk a few miles to work - this is the best part of my day really. I have to walk over a hill at around 7am every morning, so I get to see the sun rise and look out over a river which is usually covered with mist.

RE: Breathing techniques and yoga - I used to get Panic attacks at night, so learned deep breathing techniques which work. I haven't tried Yoga though - thanks for the suggestion


Do an internet search for counselors in your area who deal with anxiety disorders. You might be surprised how many are in your area, and you never knew. If you do decide to see a counselor, it should be more than just talk therapy....(you telling your problems to them). Let the therapist know up front that you are there to learn coping techniques to help you deal with the stress and anxiety in a positive manner. If they can't or won't provide that, then find someone else.

About the meds...was it Zoloft? That's an antidepressant that some docs prescribe for anxiety as well. However, like all anxiety and anti-depressive medication, Zoloft doesn't work for everyone (and studies suggest it may, in fact, worsen the issue). There are specific meds that target anxiety only. For example, Xanas and Lorazepam and Buspar are all anti-anxiety meds. Buspar isn't addictive and is not a controlled substance. Xanax and Lorazepam are habit forming if abused...but your doctor can prescribe a very small dose to be taken only if needed. In fact, Lorazepam comes in a "fast dissolving" tablet that you place under your tongue, it enters your blood stream quicker. You would only take these when absolutely necessary; the ultimate goal would be to use the meds only as long as it takes you to develop coping strategies. You practice the strategies, then go off the meds.

I understand how hard it can be to confide in anyone. I can't tell you how many of my former high school classmates called me snobbish and stuck up, when in fact I was just shy and introverted. Now that some of them know me better, we laugh about it. But the simple fact of the matter is that you'll never be able to control what others think of you...so let it go.

Glad to hear you're getting plenty of sunshiney exercise! That's wonderrful!

Possible alternative things to try: aromatherapy. Just get one of those plug-in diffuser with lavendar scent. Or lavendar spray. Its very calming, and I use it in my classroom. Seems to really work.
Try using "destresser" gadgets. My favorite is the Tangle, or simply silly putty. When you find yourself in a social situation, squeeze the putty and roll it around in your hand. It will help you focus on what needs to be done, while also helping to diffuse some of the tension.

Good luck my friend!!!



posted on Apr, 9 2012 @ 08:47 PM
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introverts

Myth #1 – Introverts don’t like to talk.
This is not true. Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say. They hate small talk. Get an introvert talking about something they are interested in, and they won’t shut up for days.

Myth #2 – Introverts are shy.
Shyness has nothing to do with being an Introvert. Introverts are not necessarily afraid of people. What they need is a reason to interact. They don’t interact for the sake of interacting. If you want to talk to an Introvert, just start talking. Don’t worry about being polite.

Myth #3 – Introverts are rude.
Introverts often don’t see a reason for beating around the bush with social pleasantries. They want everyone to just be real and honest. Unfortunately, this is not acceptable in most settings, so Introverts can feel a lot of pressure to fit in, which they find exhausting.

Myth #4 – Introverts don’t like people.
On the contrary, Introverts intensely value the few friends they have. They can count their close friends on one hand. If you are lucky enough for an introvert to consider you a friend, you probably have a loyal ally for life. Once you have earned their respect as being a person of substance, you’re in.

Myth #5 – Introverts don’t like to go out in public.
Nonsense. Introverts just don’t like to go out in public FOR AS LONG. They also like to avoid the complications that are involved in public activities. They take in data and experiences very quickly, and as a result, don’t need to be there for long to “get it.” They’re ready to go home, recharge, and process it all. In fact, recharging is absolutely crucial for Introverts. ....



posted on Apr, 11 2012 @ 08:25 PM
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I don't konw. Everything is a 'disorder' these days. In the old days, people had quirks and individual personalities. I notice too how mindless and hollow the small talk at work is. I just started a new job. The level of politeness and phony friendliness kind of neauseates me. Everyone always asks the last people they see at the end of the day when they're working next and then says, 'okay I'll see you Friday.' As if they care. And there is constant stupid banter that is meant to be humorous but isn't. It's like they're afraid to not seem happy. See, I see this too. And I haven't been diagnosed and i'm not on meds. You aren't so special. You're just you. Deal with it. A lot of people feel the way you do. You just can't tell from lookng at them.



posted on Apr, 14 2012 @ 04:49 PM
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reply to post by Hillarie
 


Well, the thing is I get pretty bad headaches which last days, even from just overhearing conversations which make me cringe on the bus, in restaurants. Wherever I go. The headaches aren't just take a pill kind of headaches. These last for more than a week sometimes, and I literally can't think/concentrate to the point that I can't hold conversation with anyone. I just stand there, while someone speaks at me, without being able to reply or think of anything, except for a numbness and ache through the brain. (Ive tried to describe this feeling before - the only way I can somewhat describe it, is as if the brain has a hollow cavity in the middle, and there is a jagged rock inside rattling around and hurting anything it touches - drowning out the noise of any normal thoughts).
I didn't sleep for the last few days because of one of these headaches. If that's not a disorder, then it certainly is not a part of my personality.

The name isn't really important - it's a problem whatever I refer to it as. But anyway, I appreciate the comment - it's nice to know others at least see the how phoney society can be sometimes.





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