I am not a worm

In writing this blog, I’ve done some internet research on Avoidant Personality Disorder in order to help explain myself. Which, you know, is always a good idea. The internet and an anxiety disorder, what could go wrong?

One thing that has been bothering me is the blatantly whinged description of symptoms. And while they’re true, it sees almost rude to describe a person that way. I know, that’s silly. How can a medical description be rude? Like when you describe Irritable Bowel Syndrome you aren’t literally accusing a person of having a crabby intestine, right?

So, why does it feel like the internet is calling me a worm?

Personally, I’d like to set the record straight.

Here’s a description of symptoms from verywellmind.com

If you have been diagnosed with avoidant personality disorder:

Okay, let’s start right there. Doesn’t this sound like the beginning of a redneck joke? Ok, maybe I’m just being sensitive…

  • you tend to have low self-esteem, strong feelings of inadequacy and a sensitivity to rejection.

Uh, duh.  Can we also note that they have a hyperlink for self-esteem? If you don’t know what self-esteem is you really have led a charm life. People with high self-esteem don’t need to talk about it, they just think they are the bee’s knees. Inadequacy? I work very hard at not feeling inadequate. So, seeing it there feels like an accusation… Ok, maybe I am proving the symptom again. Stupid internet… grumble, grumble… 

  • In new social settings, you will become extremely self-conscious, shy or inhibited and will be preoccupied with being criticized or rejected.

Preoccupied with being criticized? This seems so whiney again. All I can picture is a person standing at a party too obsessed with themselves to enjoy a little bit of shenanigans.  For me personally, I’ve always called it a problem of protocol. Without knowing the protocol, I don’t know who I might offend. Who I might hurt or upset. So, for me it’s more of a preoccupation with other people. So, it’s not that I would be unduly criticized or rejected. It’s that they would be right in rebuking or disliking me for my behavior.   

  • You tend to view yourself as socially inept, personally unappealing or inferior to others.

This one I say with absolute certainty— I do not feel inferior to others.  Personally unappealing? Shut up, internet… Okay… well hold on…  I am on anti-depressants but I wasn’t always. And I remember everyone of these feelings with unfortunate clarity. And if I slip on my diet, and go back to eating grains, I start to feel that way again…  So, maybe they have a point?… Still, personally unappealing? Why don’t you just say ugly, internet? You don’t have enough incel neckbeards hidden in your folds that you have to pick on me on a wellness site? Hmmmm? (Note to self: stop proving internet symptoms correct while trying to refute them. Also don’t attract the ire of incels. Apparently it’s not safe. What a bunch of turds.) 

  • In interpersonal relationships, you will show restraint.

Yes. With exceptions. I have less than three people I do not show some kind of restraint with—one gave birth to me, one I married, and the other I gave birth to. And even them, I still have moments of fear and anxiety. This is not to say that I don’t love them or the rest of my family and friends. It’s just feelings. What can you do?

  • You tend not to trust others and avoid relationships unless you are certain of being liked. Often, people with APD become socially isolated as a result of this avoidance.

Crap… this is also true…. 

Ok… okay.  So, a lot of it is true.  Perhaps the greater truth is that instead of being an “after” I may still be a “before.” I am doing my best to live beyond my mental illness. And I think at the heart of my umbrage at this description is a fear of relapse.

I write like I have been better for years but that’s not true. (That’s more of a writing thing than an honesty thing. You always start like you are in the middle of a conversation.) My battle with anxiety has been going on for more than 25 years but my successes are measured in weeks with relapses sprinkled in between like glitter. Have you ever tried to get rid of glitter? That shit sticks.  You think you’ve got it all up, vacuumed, swept, wiped up, then you move the couch and BAM… glitter.

I am not my illness. I don’t put it on like an affectation to excuse my behavior or encourage sympathy. I really don’t want pity.  But if my putting a name on it, my name, if my honesty helps anyone in the thick of it, I’ll take a little rude diagnostic evaluation from the internet.


Get one for yourself! Emily McDowell’s Unresolved Issues Pouch, for loose change and personality disorders. $18  (The pouch, not the personality disorder. Have I mentioned that I love Emily McDowell?)

Check out my quest for an “official” diagnosis in my next post…





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