On a Social Anxiety* forum, I recently came across a post about people who have Avoidant Personality Disorder (AvPD). The topic creator wanted to know about people who are in their 40s and 50s and how they are coping with the disorder. With many saying similar things to my current situation, it all seems bleak. Some of the posters were never independent and others felt that their future would not improve.
The post had a total of 11 responders in their 40s and 50s who discussed their own experiences of living with AvPD. These individuals lived a life with some form of a social disorder. One person’s level was mild and he was able to hold a job even though he dealt with an anxiety inducing situation like speaking with customers. Others were not so lucky. One poster stated that they were still dependent on their families. The few who said that they attempted a form of intervention including counseling and medicine felt that it was not helpful for their situation.
One person who stood out stated that they found comfort with their disorder once they accepted it as a part of them. I’ve said something similar in previous posts. Having AvPD can make a person feel helpless, but once I began to accept myself and my social shortcomings, I was able to work on them with advice and observations from sites like Life Hacker and from my brother who is good with conversations and socializing.
While my social life is still not perfect, I’ve learned to get by. Once upon a time I was unable go out in public, but now, I go to a restaurant or to the store at least once a week. There are still a lot of things that I can’t do that most adults seem to have mastered at or before the age I am now. Not being able to socialize or work makes me feel like less of a grown up.
I’m not pessimistic even though there are people with this disorder who struggle to make a living or have a fulfilling life. I’ve learned that I have to modify the dreams I once had. Like finding another way to make money or powering through school to finally finish my degree.
Another thing I noted from the experiences of those posters is that “bad experiences accumulate over time.” If this is true, I’m only more motivated to set and accomplish goals, which I believe will maximize my good experiences.
I guess my point is that it’s never too late, but to fully enjoy life even with any social disorder that hinders quality of life, it takes work and time. It also requires positivity and self-acceptance. While I look to a hopeless future, I can do everything to improve my situation so that I do have a better future. The most important thing to me is acceptance.
This disorder is a part of me and I’ve spent years fighting it and feeling shamed. Now I’m focusing on areas of improvement, taking online courses, and seeking out alternative ways to live my life despite the social disfunction that comes with AvPD and social anxiety.
I can relate to those older people who have the same disorder that I do, but I will not let that stop me from finding my own happiness and developing ways to make a living.
*Name of forum and posters is not mentioned to protect posters’ privacy.