Posted by billym on December 11, 2003, at 13:36:26
AvPD -- I'm afraid not many people know what this is, nor do many doctors. It's not social anxiety.
I have it -- and I can be in large crowds, on a stage in front of people, or in a grocery store, and I do not have a problem at all.
But my life is largely lonely and empty of relationships. I have hardly any friends, let alone a love life. And I can't make friends. But I don't have social anxiety/phobia disorder.
What I experience is avoidancy -- and I've had it all my life. It is an adverse, fear-based reaction to intrapersonal social ineraction and intimacy. I cannot function in groups. I become detached, numb and removed. I have an extreme fear that I will not be accepted. Ultimately, I have no personality around others. I am extremely inhibited, to the point I am stone-faced and completely quiet in a social setting. I am extremely self-conscious. It is as if your soul and essence as a human is being judged and damned by others while you are in their presence. It is a horrific psychic pain.
I am detached and distant from others. I rarely experience joy or "fun" in being with friends or in groups. I cannot 'let go' and be myself.
I feel it is different from social anxiety -- and clinically, it is -- because the reaction isn't so much based on anxiety and physical symptoms, but on identity. A person with AvPD does not have a social identity at all. They also have difficulty building them with friends or in one-on-one situtations. It can take years to trust another person with "who you are".
I'm frustrated when the condition is boiled down to basic anxiety. "Take this benzo and the fear will go away." There's a lot more to it than that.
I don't know if drugs are the answer to this sort of thing. I'm starting Lexapro now -- I don't know if it will do anything. I don't think these psychiatrists know what they're doing, but trying this is better than continuing as I am.
I also get annoyed when people on this board complain about loss of a sex life after taking these drugs. It bugs me because I have no sex life to begin with, let alone sex drive. It can't get worse!! This extreme inhibition around others leads to a certain prudery and inhibition in every corner of my life, including sex. For one thing, I cannot dream of feeling emotional intimacy with a girl. It is also hard to simply meet and find a girl and become physical with her when you can barely talk to people and have no personality around them.
I don't care what these drugs do to my libido. Whether they make it better or worse. Because it's not a factor now and never has been because of the very problems I have. (I guess I can always take viagra! If anyone is qualified, it's me).
I also get annoyed when people whine about weight gain. For me, weight LOSS would be incredibly dangerous and discouraging if any drugs were to incite such a thing. I'm ALREADY thin. I ALREADY feel awful about BEING thin. So if a drug gets me fatter -- heck, if I put on 30, 40 pounds -- that would be incredible. It would be fantastic. (But with Lexapro, I don't think what will happen).
So those are a few pet peeves. I know everyone is different. I'm just expressing another side of things here. Not everybody has some big fancy sex life. Not everybody can gain weight easily, or at all.
I also want to say, that from a lot of what I read here, I don't see too many success stories. All I see are people jumping from one drug to the next (more like, five drugs to the next five), one bad experience to the next. Does anything WORK?
You hear stuff like, "Well, I feel a little better, but I'm sweating like crazy and having heart palpatations." I mean, what in god's name are we doing to ourselves?
All I know is, I couldn't keep going the way I was (or am). Sad, depressed, fearful of the world, no hope at all, completely distant from others. It's largely a phyisiological problem. My childhood and my life for all intents and purposes is as good as it gets. I just can't seem to make anything of it, or find anything good or enjoyable in life. I guess when you spend most of your life alone wishing you weren't, that happens.
The doctors I've talked to only seem to use about five or six drugs -- Lexapro, Paxil, Wellbutrin, etc. They don't even seem AWARE of anything else. And there's a ton out there. A lot of different drugs. It would be nice to talk to someone who actually knew all about this stuff and understood it. But how do you find a good doctor? You can't, unless you have thousands $$ to blow trying different ones out (and not everybody has insurance, because, like me, they can't hold steady jobs, can't complete college, can't make friends, can't establish any relationship or impact with the real world).
Anyway. My two cents.