For over 2 years now, I’ve suspected that my SA and depression may actually be symptoms of an even bigger problem – avoidant personality disorder (AvPD). I know that I shouldn’t self-diagnose, especially when it comes to a personality disorder, and that it’s debated as to whether AvPD and generalised social anxiety disorder are even separate conditions, but I do seem to have much in common with AvPD sufferers and often feel that there is something bigger than my SA holding me back. I could start seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist again (something I feel I need to do anyway) and ask them about this but mental health professionals here tend to not tell you or anyone else what you’ve actually been diagnosed with. And to be honest, I’d be surprised if any of the CMHT ‘professionals’ are actually knowledgeable enough to diagnose things like that, given that none of the people I’ve ever seen were particularly knowledgeable about social anxiety disorder, and I was also, I strongly believe, misdiagnosed with Asperger’s when I was seeing a psychiatrist from CAMHS (this was later confirmed when the second, adult assessment showed that I lack the ‘triad of impairments’ needed to make that diagnosis). It seems so different in countries like the US but I think I prefer not having a bunch of labels, and I definitely prefer not having to pay for treatment that might not even help me (though I’m guessing that mental health services in countries where you have to pay are much better than the NHS – or the National Heap of Shit, as I‘ve often thought it should be called, when dealing with mental health ‘professionals’ who clearly don’t have a clue what they’re talking about – mental health services, which are, in my experience, about as much use as a chocolate teapot. Maybe I’ve just had bad luck, I don’t know). So I will just say I have many avoidant features that I think are even more important to work on than the SA if I ever want to have offline friends or be in a relationship.
Like I said, lately I’ve been feeling that I should maybe give seeing a psychologist another go to work on those issues, but any significant progress I’ve made with my SA has been completely on my own. In fact, I often found that seeing professionals who didn’t understand SA just makes me feel even more depressed and hopeless. But I have no idea how to overcome the avoidance issues without the help of a professional. I have no idea where to even start.
When I say avoidant issues, it’s a bit difficult to mention everything that entails in just one post, but there will be a lot mentioned about this in some of my upcoming posts. In essence though, I have a massive fear of rejection and seem to be preoccupied with the possibility/ inevitability (as I see it) of being rejected. Even the tiniest little thing that someone says or does can make me feel that they are rejecting me and that they hate me. For example, if I’ve made plans with someone but they have to cancel suddenly, my mind will automatically assume that they hate me and don’t want to spend time with me, and that spending time with me just annoys them. Even the tiniest thing that someone says in a conversation or does/ doesn’t do – things that other people would probably just brush off or not even think about for a second – can end up causing me a lot of distress. To use an example from yesterday, my Swedish online friend and I were on skype, and voice chatted for a bit (I’ve managed to speak a lot, at least for me, the last couple of times I’ve decided to use voice chat – I can usually barely say a couple of words), but then he suddenly had to go. Despite knowing this, I automatically interpreted the abrupt ending to the voice chat as a sign that he thought less of me/ no longer liked me because of how awkward I am. My mind translated that single thing into: “I think you’re a weirdo and hate you and no longer want to be your friend”. My negative thought process just snowballed from there into: “Everyone will reject me in the end because I’m such a weirdo and rubbish friend. Everyone hates me. I always mess everything up. I will never be accepted by anyone. Friends/ people always reject me in the end. I’ll always be alone. I can’t trust anyone. What’s the point in living if everyone will only hurt me and leave me in the end?” Yes, I know it sounds really stupid. I really wish I was exaggerating but I’m not. That’s just how my mind works. I know I probably sound like a massive weirdo/ nutcase right now.
I find it extremely difficult to trust people and I always take criticism personally. If someone makes a comment about me, I always seem to interpret it in the most negative way. I often also feel that other people hate me and can’t stand to be around me, which is probably a result of being bullied. I was genuinely surprised when a couple of people I worked with at the mail sorting centre were friendly towards me and didn’t seem to mind being around me. I’ve met up with my befriender three times now and I feel sorry for her that she has to give up some of her free time to spend time with me. I feel that my awkwardness and weirdness must really annoy/ offend her. I haven’t really been able to open up to her yet. I find it extremely difficult to open up to anyone. I can never let anyone in and I feel that this the main reason as to why I can’t make friends, rather than my SA alone. I haven’t had a close offline friend in almost 8 years and I can never seem to get past the acquaintance stage with people. I’m too afraid to get any closer than that because I’m sure that they’ll reject me as soon as they realise what a weirdo I am. I’ve ended up sabotaging potential friendships (for example, with the woman who used to drive me to uni, through making no real effort to stay in touch with her) a couple of times before because it’s so much easier than the pain of rejection and I feel it’s not even worth the anxiety it puts me through. I know that’s not fair on the other person and I always feel even more awful about myself for doing that, but I can’t really understand why anyone would want to get close to me/ be my friend anyway. I feel I’m doing them a favour by not wasting any more of their time. Online friendships are bit different because there is distance involved, it’s less direct, and being rejected online is often less painful than being rejected face-to-face. I can also always just log off the computer if I feel uncomfortable. I think this is why I only seem to be able to make friends through the internet now. And even then, all the online friendships I’ve ever had have been initiated by the other person.
When it comes to friendship, I’m either very attached to someone or not attached in the slightest. There isn’t really an in-between for me. I think I maybe get more attached to close friends than most people (probably because friends are such a rarity for me and therefore very important to me) and that’s why being rejected/ the possibility of being rejected hurts me so much. I worry that if I was to ever get into a relationship, this would be even worse. I worry that I’d just end up annoying the hell out of the guy I’d be in a relationship with, by frequently asking him if my negative automatic thoughts about what he’s thinking matches the reality of what he’s thinking. No one deserves to have to deal with that kind of annoyance/ insecurity in their girlfriend. I have so much about myself to fix but I don’t have a clue how. I’m aware that I probably sound like a deranged weirdo to anyone who has just read this post.