TW: mild reference to self-harm.
So some months after I first raised the issue, I have received a diagnosis of Anxious Avoidant Personality Disorder (AAPD). I saw my Psychiatrist on Wednesday, and he conceded that my illness has been so enduring, and unremitting, that it can only really be some sort of disorder. He told me that, for there to be a more Depressive-based illness, he would expect that I would get longer periods of relief, if not a permanent cessation at some point. He briefly considered Emotionally Unstable (or Borderline) Personality Disorder, mainly because the extent of my SH behaviours fit better with this particular type of PD. But I didn’t really meet any more of the diagnostic criteria, so he settled on AAPD (coupled with my original diagnosis of Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)).
Further, he stressed the point that he dislikes the term ‘Personality Disorder’, using the example that I may be anxious and avoidant, but I’m not necessarily unkind. Yes, I have a ‘disorder’ that means I am anxious, and that I avoid any activity that makes me feel remotely uncomfortable, which affects the way I function on a day to day basis, prevents me from working, or socialising. But there is nothing wrong with the core of my being, if you will. I wouldn’t step over someone lying in the street (although I may have a bit of a panic!) or swear at a shop assistant for accidentally short-changing me (in fact, I fear confrontation so much that I would probably allow this to go unchallenged!).
So how does this make me feel…? I am glad I have an explanation for what has happened to my life, and that there is a condition that means I tend to opt out of anything outwith my usual routine…I’m not just stubborn, or difficult. But, ultimately, nothing has changed. There is no definitive treatment plan for AAPD. I still need to find a way to accept and work with my illness. I still need to attend therapy sessions, in order that I can learn to give myself a bit of a break, to be able to accept compassion from others and to be a bit more compassionate towards myself. I’ve a feeling this is going to be a long, long process.