Honoring My Inner Introvert


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.

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About CimmarianInk

Abuse Survivor Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder PTSD and Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) also known as Multiple Personalities
This entry was posted in bipolar disorder, dissociative identity disorder and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Honoring My Inner Introvert

  1. Freasha1964 says:

    Or you could add: “Bear with me while I take this notion for a test drive.”
    And then, refining your addition: “Discuss amongst yourselves while I take the opportunity to sit back and listen.” (But maybe that is redundant or presumes they don’t get the first half of the sentence.)

    Of course, you are well equipped to deal with this in any way you feel is right.

    • CimmarianInk says:

      Ha, I like ‘taking it for a test drive.’ The annoying thing is that I have attempted in the past to tell a few friends that I’m not as energetic and outgoing as it seems, only to have them tell me ” Yes you are!” *eye roll*

  2. castorgirl says:

    Hi CI,

    I’ve also gotten the E and I in Myers Briggs… at times, I can be outgoing, and the life of the party… but, I need space to be alone and have peace. There are times when I just can’t do the extrovert thing, and it’s difficult when those around you percieve you as that extrovert.

    When your friends said that you were outgoing… remember that there would have been a dash of social politeness thrown in there too. Society expects people to be outgoing – it’s one of the markers of success; so, they may have been adherring to that ideal and trying to bolster you.

    Can I ask… what’s the worst thing that would happen if you sat quietly during a social gathering? Do people really associate quietness with mental health issues? If you sat there quietly, it’s not like you’re weilding a butter knife as you sit there, right?

    Have you seen the TED talk by Susan Cain – The power of the introvert? It’s a bit long, but quite interesting.

    Take care,
    CG

    • CimmarianInk says:

      Hey CG,

      Interesting about your score as well. It reminds how much I don’t like being put into a box with one label on it. I hate being reduced to a few words.

      Strange you mentioning TED talk because I have no clue what it is but it’s been listed on Netflix instant streaming.

      Your question about what would happen if I just sat somewhere quiet? My comment was based on past experience if you can believe it. Most people who know me know that I’m bipolar. Anytime, and I do mean anytime, that I am with a group and I sit quietly people start asking me if I feel alright because I’m not up and about chattering away. I’ve had people say something about me having a “bad day” and telling me they hope I feel better.

      It’s very irritating. Maybe I should play with a butter knife to get them to leave me alone.

      • castorgirl says:

        Hi CI,

        I used to be friends with someone who has bipolar, and whenever she was either too up, or too down, I usually noticed. Sometimes I would ask how she was doing, and sometimes I would try to contact her a little more… it wasn’t because I thought she was crazy, or unstable, or anything; it was purely about my concern for her. Maybe your friends are showing concern for you too?

        Take care,
        CG

      • CimmarianInk says:

        Oh yes, they totally care, I know that, no question. I think the problem I’m having is how to just be me without people assuming that if I’m being quiet then something must be wrong with me. Does that make sense? I’d love to just sit sometimes and observe without my friends thinking I’m having a “bad day”. You’re right of course that they care which is great, I just wish that when I say “Hey I’m happy just sitting here.” they’d take my word for it.

      • castorgirl says:

        I getcha… yeah, they might show concern until it’s happened a few times – until they get used to the new/real you.

      • CimmarianInk says:

        Good point. I can’t expect them to change right away. I needed that reminder.

      • castorgirl says:

        Forgot to add… and what’s more important… being true to yourself, or making other people comfortable? If they’re friends, they’ll adapt and welcome knowing you for who you are. Saying that, I know it’s a big risk to take.

      • CimmarianInk says:

        Very true and part of the issue will be me not going back to old ways just to please someone else.

      • meredith says:

        touche. butter knives send a message in a blunt way.

      • CimmarianInk says:

        Hehe blunt way. 🙂

  3. Just wanted to say… I love embracing my introvertedness (not a real word, made it up, but I know YOU don’t mind 🙂 ). When I learned of the term “introvert” and found out I was an introvert it really eased things for me. It just seems like EVERYONES an extrovert and I always feel so awkward, pressured, flawed, and just not normal because I’m not. I use it now all the time, especially with hubby who is very extroverted, I tell him “leave me alone, I’m an introvert, or I need to stay home, I’m an introvert, or I don’t want to be around people, I’m an introvert!” Heh heh…lol, maybe I use it too much. Another way they differentiate introvert and extrovert is by how you get your energy. They say extroverts are really energized by being around and social with others while introverts are energized by being alone doing their thing. I do have insiders who are more extroverted and I can tell you it’s almost like a high for them, being social and in social situations. I know that even the shortest of social times for me though are draining/exhausting and often I just “NEED” to be alone to recoup. Sooooo…. embrace that introvertedness girlfriend!… Just be true to yourself!
    IP

    • CimmarianInk says:

      I absolutely approve the making up of new words! 😉

      I’m glad that you’ve been able to be true to yourself IP. I understand needing a break after being around people. I definitely need alone time in order to function. My husband doesn’t get that at all so I have to work around him.

      • meredith says:

        I’m an I. I need time alone for all kinds of reasons. I got so self-conscious about it when I moved to be with JJ, I had to pull back from social stuff completely for… well, it’s been about a year, now. I’m finally square enough with myself to say ‘no’ to large gatherings, and I either wear sunglasses (of many different tints) to create a sort of shield, or I take my contacts out when we have dinner with friends. I already feel too connected, and it helps to soften the focus for me. It also helps me to keep questionable comments in my head… (I’m getting very sick of the word ‘sarcastic.’ Seriously! What’s the difference between satyre and sarcasm? I’m terrible with fluff and stuff)

      • CimmarianInk says:

        I think it’s really great that you are able to say no to things. My therapist says that’s really important. Good for you. 🙂

        I’m not sure I know the difference between satire and sarcasm. I may need to look that up.

      • meredith says:

        please do…

  4. Ruby Tuesday says:

    I enjoy being “difficult”, too. 😀

  5. I am new to the blog and the only thing that I can say now is thank you. Thank you for being real. I have had “issues” since I was little and I am finally pursuing a true diagnosis. Based on the internet, my therapist (who has me headed to a psych. soon) and your blog (I think we would make great friends LOL), I am Bipolar with DID as well (thankfully I missed out on the PTSD). I am a follower for life. Man, it is SO freakin’ nice to know I am not alone in “not feeling” and being “moody.” I too am thankful that you are married like me. I SO often feel not worthy then I get in one of my moods and I treat him like crap. He is totally a hostage LOL Message me any time; again, we should probably become BFF 🙂

    • CimmarianInk says:

      Hi and thanks for stopping by to comment.

      I hope your psychiatrist is able to help you nail down exactly what’s going on and then help you to start and effective treatment. It’s great that you already have a therapist in your corner to help you.
      Being part of the blogosphere has definitely helped me to feel less alone and I’m glad it’s helped you too. Good luck!

  6. Alice says:

    It’s exhausting to pretend all of the time, I just tend to avoid everyone until I can act again. An announcment sounds healthier though 😀 “I’d just rather not pretend, embrace the introvertness” x

    • CimmarianInk says:

      Hi Alice,

      It is exhausting and I’ve done/do exactly what you describe which is avoiding everyone until I fuel back up enough to act again. I hope changing my behavior will lead to less exhaustion and irritability.
      Oh, and “introvertness” is a good word. 😉

  7. If you don’t mind answering, how old are you?

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