People who have avoidant personality disorder believe themselves socially inept.
Of all the characteristics that can fuse together to make personality [disorder], this one, I won’t argue with. I guess there must have been a time, maybe before the bullying kicked in, or before, I could meta-analyse in this way, when this wasn’t the case, but to my memory, there is no different. At the risk of sounding like a broken soundtrack, I believe that people tolerate me, rather than like me, at best would rather I wasn’t there, and at worst, their lives would be easier if I were dead. The darkness and grip that these thoughts hold depends on whether I am having a good or bad MH day.
One of my students emailed me recently. A follow-up from a one-to-one tutorial, where he’d told me he was being treated for depression. He said that he felt like the other students on his course were shunning him. So, I asked him that as I was his research methods lecturer, what evidence he could furnish me with, to show that this was the case, bearing in mind that neither inaction, nor omission without intent, count as “evidence”. That was enough to get his thinking straight again.
What counts as “good evidence” by scientific standards is something I teach, year on year. Looking for evidence to support thinking, rather than letting negative thoughts spin, unchecked, is something I have been taught several times. The problem, is that I regularly allow null evidence (inaction / omission) to support my thinking. If I am not spoken to, it is because I am disliked, if I am not invited, it is because I have been deliberately excluded. And if no one notices I am missing, it is because they couldn’t care less and never wanted me around in the first place.
Last week, I could count with fewer than the fingers on one hand, the number of people who noticed my withdrawal from Facebook. This week, I returned to it. I posted. The responses, offered prayer, hope, good thoughts. And I found myself in tears, because, maybe, just maybe, these people really do care about how I am. They took the time to type messages to me. Maybe others, in different roles outside Facebook, aren’t simply checking in with me out of duty. But, I am too scared to believe that this is true. What if I’m wrong? I’d feel awful then. People have pretended to care before, then they turned nasty, or abandoned me. Believing people care still feels dangerous. When I have trusted I have paid for it later, in hurt. Not enough trust. But the evidence is that they do care. But it costs too much to trust.
God, grant me the courage to believe that people do really care.