While I cannot officially offer a diagnosis over the Internet I can say that your symptoms do not seem to match that of an individual with avoidant personality disorder. There may be no particular “diagnosis” that exists for you. It may be that you recently have begun to notice that you’re not feeling happy. It’s possible that you are experiencing a generalized depression.
If we met in person I would ask you when the symptoms first began. You wrote about feeling “normal” some days and depressed and upset on others. Has this always been the case for you throughout your life? It would be helpful to know how long you’ve experienced fluctuations in mood. This information would help me determine whether this is a new problem or something that you’ve recently become aware of. You may have become aware of your mood shifts because they have intensified or you may have recently become more cognizant of your moods.
I also would want to know whether anything has changed in your life recently. Have you begun a new medication? I don’t mean psychiatric medicine because you mentioned you are not taking any but a change in any medication could affect your mood. Has there recently been a loss in your life, a career shift, a breakup or anything related to a change in your life circumstances? This information would be helpful to know because any life changes may partly account for the fluctuations in your mood.
There’s also the possibility that you’re feeling stressed because of some standard you have placed on yourself that you are not meeting as you think you should. For instance you mentioned the idea that you cannot find your “occupational calling” because you feel that you’re “horrible working with others.” There are several potential issues with this statement. One is you may have set an unrealistic goal for yourself such as “I have to have found my dream occupation within a particular amount of time” or you’ll deem yourself a failure. Some people place unrealistic standards on themselves and when they are unable to meet them, they feel as though they are a failure or an inferior person. I also wonder how you came to the conclusion that you are “horrible working with others.” Did something negative happen that led you to believe this about yourself? What evidence do you have to prove this to be true? Is it possible that you have misjudged this aspect of yourself?
You also wrote that you are hard on yourself because you’ve “always dreamed of being like your mother who is a bubbly and fun loving person.” Apparently you have determined that you are not a “bubbly and fun loving person.” Again, it’s possible that you have misjudged yourself.
It’s also possible that being the “bubbly and fun loving person” is not a characteristic of your personality. If that is the case, that’s okay. You have to recognize that you are not your mother nor are you your sister. They have their own unique personalities and so do you. I suspect that you may be unfairly comparing yourself to your mother and sister, feeling as though you have to be like them, and then concluding that because you’re not, there is something wrong with you. You don’t have to be a clone of them; you only have to be yourself. In fact, if you try to be anybody other than yourself you’ll find that it’s a very unhappy existence. It’s important and psychologically imperative that you be yourself and not try to pretend to be somebody you’re not.
You mentioned that you’re self-conscious about how you act, how others act and are becoming obsessive about what other people think of you. This is not healthy and it’s an area in which a therapist could be very helpful to you. Group therapy can also be helpful with this problem. I don’t think medication would be helpful in this instance because much of what you’re dealing with has to do with how you think about yourself and others. The problem therefore is a cognitive one. Because most of what you’re experiencing has to do with negative thoughts, talk therapy and working to correct your thinking may be the most beneficial type of treatment for you at this time. Thanks for writing. I wish you luck.
This article has been updated from the original version, which was originally published here on June 1, 2009.