Identifying avoidance


I was thinking about things like...people who are anxious about going to the doctor because they're afraid s/he'll find something wrong so they just don't. Ever. Support from someone else or not. In someone normally not anxious otherwise.
<grin> Those people usually have a disorder, in and of itself; Specific Phobia.

Not always, some people are just stubborn, and some aspect of the one thing that they’re avoiding? They’re morally opposed to. Like being the center of attention / being fussed over, or paying good money (just burn it, why don’t you??? A waste!) to be told what they already know, or being told what to do, etc.

IME The “tell” between specific phobia & stubbornnes? Emotional involvement. People who are stubborn might go on a rant -or not- but they’re still reasonable. If whatever their objection is, is met? They’ll agree to go, and be just fine. Someone with a specific phobia, on the other hand, gets more and more unreasonable, and more and more emotionally unstable, until they’re popping off like a frog in a sock, ending relationships, lashing out, making threats, doing anything and everything they possibly can to avoid doing what’s causing them to feel this way. And no matter how distressed they are at even the IDEA of the thing happening? It only gets worse if the reality shows up knocking.

Paramedics run into both groups of people on a fairly regular basis. Someone who is just being stubborn? Can be talked into it, once you have a discussion with them that allays their concerns. The only way to get someone with a specific phobia around medical anything* in the ambo? Unconscious.

And unlike people with anxiety disorders, or agoraphobia, etc... bringing someone TO them is useless / doesn’t change the situation, at all. People whose terror is around going somewhere, being touched, feeling a bother, etc.? Can be worked with. By removing those hurdles. No one will touch you without your permission / instead of my wrapping this cuff around your arm, would you like to do it? Can you run this across your forehead, for me? Is it okay if I insert this needle, whilst you hold your arm steady with your hand? But I can also set up a 1:1 training session for you to be able to take your own blood in the future with the hospital phlebotomy team, if you’d like? (All about helping a person be in control of their own life/issues, more often than not. This terrible thing made okay-ISH now, because in the future, it won’t have to happen). Thanks! Or; You don’t have to leave your house, we can bring someone to you. Etc Etc.Etc.

But phobias are unreasonable, by definition. You can’t talk someone into doing something they have unreasoning fear of, you have to remove what they’re afraid of. There’s also the quirk that the more generalized someones anxiety? The more practiced they usually are at working with it / around it/ etc. Specific phobias, meanwhile, are most often simply avoided, & life is sunshine & rainbows. Until they’re confronted with the unavoidability of whatever they’re afraid of.

* Correction. I have known exactly one person who was afraid of ambulances, but was fine being being airlifted (which they knew from a skiing accident). They hadn’t done it, yet, but their “plan” was to move to somewhere that the only emergency aid services available were by chopper. Essentially, retiring back of beyond. That didn’t make a whoooooole lotta sense to me? Since a person can & does usually drive themselves to the doc infinitely more times than they’re transported.... but, again, we’re talking phobias. Which are unreasonable. So it can make sense -in the context of a phobia- to have a 5 hour drive each way for a physical or an earache or any other regular medical care, just to avoid the potential of having to be in an ambulance in an emergency.
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I was dx'd with avoidant personality disorder awhile ago.
I avoid things so automatically that I don't even notice 90% of what I avoid anymore.

I've experience a panic attack once- because of medication- but not from anxiety, because my avoidance is so instant.

It makes it really hard to figure out things like "What do I like to do for fun" or fill out therapy worksheets because I avoid so much there's nothing to write. Or I could write "everything" for things that make me anxious. Like name it- I avoid it.

I can't even figure out who I am as a person because of it.

Especially because, at home, not having the pressure or need to do anything I avoid nearly everything.

Some thing all the time- don't ask me what, I don't notice until someone says "hey, lets go" or "lets do".

Some things off and on- like doing dishes can be so overwhelming I avoid eating, just so I don't have any dishes.

Some days I can just cook and do dishes, no problem. Some times its a lot of work but somebody else is dependent (usually my kids) on me making them food so I have to force myself anyways.

I always need the tv on as well, as background noise. Radio/music isn't as effective and I'm not sure why. It's not an avoidance thing for me though- at least I don't think so. Having a tv on helps my brain to not focus on every single small noise that triggers either ptsd or ocd. I couldn't spend anytime in my own bedroom - cleaning, organizing, sleeping etc- until I got a television.

Identifying what I avoid? Yeesh! Again, only when someone else needs me to do something and it causes me intense emotions (i dont want to say just anxiety because it can be other things too- like frustration), or I have to plan a thousand things before I can do said simple task, or I plan a thousand ways out of it.

Hard to tell though, because some things I just have to do differently than most people because of ptsd etc. Not sure that's avoidance. Not always.

I think, its avoidance if it's something you think you'd like to try but the anxiety etc just thinking about doing it is overwhelming so you don't do it.

Those things you'd have to work up to doing, exposure therapy etc.

If it's something you can do but get anxiety doing it- its just anxiety (not avoidance). Probably related to other disorders. Because if you were avoiding it, well- you wouldn't be doing it right? (Unless you already noticed your anxiety from
thinking about it is high enough you normally wouldn't do it and are trying to work through the emotions)

And there definitely is a healthy kind of avoidance. Like, everyone avoids walking off a cliff. Most people would avoid jumping out of a plane. Most people don't avoid making phone calls.

If you asked 5 "normal" people if they would do something and 4 say no.... it's probably not avoidance but common sense.
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Thanks, @Innordinate. Sorry this is a struggle for you, too.

Having a tv on helps my brain to not focus on every single small noise that triggers either ptsd or ocd.

Oh yeah. The noises that cause anxiety on a good day. I think that's part of my issue, too.

like doing dishes can be so overwhelming I avoid eating, just so I don't have any dishes.

*raises hand* - that sounds sooo familiar.


The stay at home order has made my avoidance less noticeable, but I know it's there. I could take my dogs for a walk...I avoid. Im ok playing with them in the yard though. I utilize my back yard and deck a lot in the summer. I avoid going to the grocery store, even before all the virus stuff, to the point that my husband and I go together. I avoid cooking...but I do it. I avoid cleaning....I procrastinate more about that. I also sleep with the tv on and it runs all day even though I am not watching it. I have found that if I put it on a music channel it makes me feel like cleaning. I know its anxiety/depression that I cant really shake. I am the polar opposite of who I use to be. For yrs, by 9 am, all beds were made, kids were off to school, breakfast dishes done, and I was off for a 4 mile walk. All day was productive and I was an extrovert. Now I am just so tired I have to coax myself to get in the shower. I also think it is tied to some really distorted thinking. If you dont do anything, you cant screw anything up. If you stay away from people, dont have to worry about their moods or crazy expectations. (have much of that in family). I know thats not living up to potential or fully enjoying life, but it is really hard to push through. When I do push through situation, Im exhausted afterwards. Example: gave my daughter baby shower last fall. The planning had me overwhelmed. I had good help but was in charge. By the time it was over I think I slept for a week, grateful it all went well, but exhaustion. Life has me so tired.