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Living with Avoidant Personality Disorder: Five Tips to Make the Day Bearable

Updated on November 27, 2011

Avoidant Personality Disorder Symptoms

Avoidant Personality Disorder is fairly common in the United States, but because of its very nature often goes undeclared and untreated. Sufferers of the disorder have great difficulty making emotional connections with other people, including such simple actions as making eye contact. More intense emotional upheaval, such as an argument with a loved one, can lead to a total shutdown on the part of the sufferer, making long-lasting relationships extremely stressful and challenging. Avoidant Personality Disorder manifests in almost every aspect of a person's life, and almost always for the worse. It affects your work, home, social life, and private thoughts. The intense self-scrutiny and risk aversion make this one of the hardest personality disorders to live with, and it's no surprise that most people with the disorder also suffer from depression.

Seeking Treatment For Avoidant Personality Disorder

If you feel you have Avoidant Personality Disorder, the best thing you can do is seek the opinion and help of a therapist. Of course, that's easier said than done when the disorder is defined by an extreme aversion to emotional intimacy. If you can't share your feelings with your own loved ones, how could you with a complete stranger?

Despite all of these valid concerns, I would recommend that anyone suffering from Avoidant Personality Disorder at least try therapy. Write down your problems and bring them with you to help you bring them up, and remember, a psychologist is a confidante. Anything you say in there is private and will not be found out by the people in your life.

However, therapy isn't for everyone. Whether you feel your symptoms are manageable, or simply haven't worked up the courage to seek professional help, there are still ways to manage your own life and make things more tolerable. Below are the top five things I have found that make my everyday life better.

Keep a Blog

This one has helped me, personally, the most. Blogs can be as personal or as private as you want, and you can easily set one up for free. To my mind, a blog is actually more secure than a physical journal, as the people likely to come across a blog probably won't know you. Talk about your day, what bothered you, and what you did well. You will feel better having gotten it off your chest, I promise.

Keep a Pet

Only do this if you're sure you can handle caring for an animal, but pets make wonderful companions for Avoidants. Having a creature that's always happy to see you and doesn't judge you around can be a great comfort for those suffering from loneliness and insecurity. Cats and dogs are the most common choices, but feel free to branch out. Parrots are noisy, but they're also very long-lived and highly intelligent. Or, alternatively, even a simple goldfish has been shown to have positive effects on its owner's mental (and physical) health.

Find Time to Be Alone

Don't expect too much from yourself. No matter how good you're feeling, or how apathetic, take time to just relax, alone, and recharge your batteries. Note that this implies you actually get out and interact with people. I know it can seem daunting some days, but do also work at leading a productive life. Even if you only see people at work, put in an effort to say hello to at least one acquaintance, unprompted, every day. The key is to find the perfect balance between staying comfortable and motivated.

Work Around Your Limitations

Having a personality disorder is a very real thing for those who experience it. You may recognize a fear as irrational, but that doesn't make it any less of a fear. Still, society demands some basic human interaction, so a big part of living a decent life is to overcome, or skirt around, those fears. Let's take a common problem many Avoidants have: making eye contact. If you're outdoors, and it isn't the dead of winter, sunglasses can be a good way of getting around this. Learn some techniques to calm anxiety for when you have a stressful situation come up.

Basically, arm yourself with knowledge. Break down the greatest problems you have, and think about why they happen, and how you can minimize them.

Value Yourself

This one is very important! Take some time every day to go over what was good about that day, and what is good about yourself. This can be very difficult when you're depressed, but it is essential to getting yourself out of that trench. Accept that you are who you are. Accept that, no matter what, you have value as a human being. You might feel dumb, but write out a list of what's good about you, and where you want to be in a year (write it out in the present tense, as though you're already there.) Say it, out loud, to yourself, every day. I can guarantee you'll feel better about yourself.

Avoidant Personality Disorder is one of the most anguishing disorders out there. Sufferers are not emotionally stunted, they feel despair and loneliness, but they're unable to reach out and ask for help. I really do urge anyone showing symptoms to seek help; the possible trauma of opening up in therapy could never be more than a lifetime of isolation, could it? Still, in the meantime, I hope these tips help out my fellow Avoidants in their daily lives. I've included some recommended reading that has really helped me to the right.

Please feel free to leave any comments offering your own tips and experiences.


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    • carcro profile image

      Paul Cronin 5 years ago from Winnipeg

      Really good advise here Gofygure, I'm sure most of us have lived through at least periods of this in our lifetime where our self esteem was low. Thanks for the info! Voted up!

    • Gofygure profile image

      Gofygure 5 years ago from Kutztown, PA

      Thanks. :) I've been dealing with this disorder since I was twelve or so, with signs pointing to it since elementary school. I only took the time to find out what was wrong with me after a really rough winter last year. Life seems so much brighter now that I know what I'm fighting against!

    • carcro profile image

      Paul Cronin 5 years ago from Winnipeg

      I'm glad to hear that, there nothing worse than feeling all alone. Here's to a great winter ahead...Cheers!

    • mandypoole profile image

      mandypoole 4 years ago from UK

      Great hub

    • profile image

      tvfor200 4 years ago

      Great hub and good ideas...I couldn't agree more about this...if you feel you have Avoidant Personality Disorder, the best thing you can do is seek the opinion and help of a therapist. Of course, that's easier said than done when the disorder is defined by an extreme aversion to emotional intimacy. If you can't share your feelings with your own loved ones, how could you with a complete stranger?

      Seems I can't share my true feelings with my friends so why would I tell a stranger? I know many people do, but I think I would hold back with a a therapist because I wouldn't want them to judge me (go figure)!

    • profile image

      j_fer2713 3 years ago

      For as long as I can remember, which I do not remember much of my childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. I realize now I have been an Avoidant, No one really knew me, not even my family, my twin sister. Somehow we must pull through! At age 29, my body flip the fuck out on me because I internalized everything. Escapism via whatever outlet I could find, so naturally I eventually ran into a lot of trouble)sparring details for now). Excessive nervousness was translated to "what are you hiding?!" as well. Since nothing can help me(been in DBT, CBT, about to start couples therapy 9 months) I have decided try the way of Buddhism, still continuing therapy though. I'm weary of organized religion, I'd prefer to do my own thing with little guidance(I painfully admit I cannot do this by myself), but I think it is worth a shot. Then I thought, dammit! compassion and love is required. Compassion, check; love, unchecked! I cannot lose control because I fear to be taken advantage of. Let's just say there is a good reason why I fear these things. I refuse to give up because there is no way we can be that severely messed up to the point of lifetime disorders because for those of us who were trapped, neglected, and tortured by our parents and guardians, attaining love is not so easy because of our stolen innocence at such a young age. The younger the more ingrained they'll be later on. I wish good luck to all of you who suffer from illnesses.

    • profile image

      j_fer2713 3 years ago

      When you start opening up prepare for surges of anxiety attacks and panicking. The communication part is important and the hardest. The anxiety attacks, hopelessness, and panicky SLOWLY fade away. If you do not open up therapy will not help you. You gotta help yourself.

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