At this week’s therapy session I told my therapist that I’ve been having a few weeks of irritability and interspersed with depression. I count these as bipolar mood swings and don’t feel the need to talk about them but she said that bipolar moods come from somewhere too.
I was under the impression that many of my bipolar moods just are, and that they aren’t understandable really. She disagrees and I will yield to her knowledge on this one. It doesn’t change the moods, but she wanted to get down to why they started.
We talked about the irritability and I mentioned a recent outing where my husband and I were invited to meet up with some friends at the movies and I was very irritated by the whole thing. I didn’t want to see anybody, I didn’t want to talk to anybody, I didn’t want anyone looking at me, you get the picture. My therapist wanted to understand why I felt that way. I told her that being around people requires lots of acting and pretending on my part and that I didn’t feel like doing that.
The acting and pretending comes from attempting to appear normal and non-mental. The rare occasions that I don’t pretend always lead to sideways glances and awkward questions where people look like they’re afraid I’m going to stab them with my butter knife. I hate that! I hate people thinking, “Oooh, she’s bipolar, we’d better watch out, she could go off at any minute.”
As I recently read people with mental illness are more likely to be the victims of crimes than the perpetrators. Anyway…
This reaction is, in part, why I pretend. I’m sure another factor is that I can be funny sometimes and sometimes I do have a witty comeback. People’s reactions to that part of my personality have always been positive so I keep it up as part of my act. I made up a version of me that always laughs and has something clever to say. Someone who has lots of energy and goes around smiling all the time (in public). And so, I’ve screwed myself.
I told my therapist that this is all my fault. I know that, but what’s happened is that there are times when I don’t have the mental or physical energy to maintain this person that people know. In truth, she doesn’t exist.
This is where my Myers Briggs test comes in and something that my therapist said that made me laugh.
We were talking about my little Oscar performances and she wanted to go back to the Myers Briggs test that she had given me a few years ago. Out loud she asked, “Are you an introvert or an extrovert?” to which I said that I couldn’t remember. She pulled out the test, looked it over again to refresh her memory and then told me that there was a discrepancy in my results. I actually remembered that though the word discrepancy hadn’t been used and that made me laugh because I enjoy being difficult.
It appears that I am both an introvert and an extrovert. I can’t quite remember the whole deal but there are two scores or something; one that has to do with how you were born and one that…I can’t remember right now. Sheesh. Anyway, I had two different types when it came to the introvert/extrovert. I was something like: INTJ and then ENTJ, I think.
My therapist said there was a good way to figure out which type I am so she asked me how I process things. She asked me if I need to talk to someone to process things, as in do I get clarity by talking it out with other people? Or, do I think about things on my own and process it internally, gaining clarity that way?
The answer was obvious and immediate for me before she finished speaking. The very idea of processing thoughts by conversation is repugnant. Does it also count that I absolutely abhor talking on the telephone? I figured I’d just throw that in there. 😉
My method is very much solitary. I think about whatever information I’m processing and once I have it settled in my head, if I feel the need to say something about it, I do. That doesn’t mean that I don’t value external input from others but I would also take those statements and process them in my head instead of talking about it.
Now, don’t get me wrong and think that I let a test define me because I don’t and as castorgirl once mentioned, these test results can change depending on when you take them. My therapist agreed with that and thought that I should retake it someday just to see. So, the point isn’t about the test but about figuring out something truthful about myself.
So what does this mean? Well, my therapist said that I need to honor my inner introvert by not pretending to be something else. She figured that it obviously causes me anxiety and irritability to be pretending to be something that I’m not and to end up doing things that I don’t want to do.
I told her that I wasn’t sure how to stop this notion of me that people have, that I’ve allowed them to have. I expressed a yearning to be able to go somewhere with others and just sit quietly while everyone else talks. That would be impossible because people expect me to be entertaining. After tossing around a couple of ideas my therapist said that I should just tell people that I have an announcement to make: “I took a test and I am not an extrovert, I’m an introvert!” To which I added the statement: “Discuss amongst yourselves.”
I might just do that.