Hello, and thank you for your question:
It sounds like you’ve had a very hard time with your shyness, and I’m sorry for your pain. While it does sound like you have a serious problem interacting with people, the good news is that you can be helped. I would hesitate labeling you with a personality disorder, though.
Any diagnosis that includes “personality disorder” is very serious and should be reserved for the most severe cases. I don’t wish to diminish the suffering you have experienced. I just want to let you know that since there is help for you to overcome your fears, you more than likely have some avoidant traits—that is, some of the problems that you mention fit the criteria, some do not.
For instance, you are in college, and that is wonderful. While you may keep to yourself, you still are able to sit in a classroom, walk around campus, and travel in public. It may be painful, but you are able to do it. That is terrific. I wish I could do therapy over the Internet, but want to offer you some advice to work on until you can find a specialist who can teach you how to overcome these issues.
I would first suggest some research on how to help yourself overcome your shyness. It will take some work, and will be scary in the beginning, but if you really want to recover from these fears, it takes a tiny bit of courage (which you clearly already have!).
Find yourself a copy of “Shyness; What it is, What to do about it.” It is written by the famous psychologist, Dr. Phillip Zimbardo. Study it, and do what he suggests, no matter how scary it may seem. You really can start to fix it yourself. You don’t have to be afraid of trying what he suggests. Honest.
Self-hatred isn’t about being avoidant, either. It’s about low self-esteem which, left unchecked, can perpetuate itself. Write out a list of things that you know to be good about yourself. From reading your letter I know that there are some really special things that you may be too shy to admit to others, but make the list. Be honest with yourself, and don’t worry about sounding like you are bragging. This is where you are supposed to be bragging, OK?
Rather than label you with a personality disorder, I would suggest that you have a big dose of social anxiety disorder. That is fixable. When you are ready, find yourself a specialist who deals with anxiety disorders in your area by going to this link: Psychology Today.
You can do it! Take those first big steps to freedom. You don’t have to be imprisoned by your fears.
I hope this helps,
Dr. Diana Walcutt