Introvert/Extrovert

I fall into a “weird” category I think. I’m a partial introvert/partial extrovert. I weirdly like being the center of attention while maintaining my “privacy. Yeah, doesn’t make sense to me, either.

I’m rather vocal about my mental health diagnosis (bipolar, and I promise you I will see which “bipolar” it is when I see the doctor next). Yes, I was afraid of it. Why? Because I didn’t want to be my Mom/family. So, yes… I was afraid of my diagnosis. But I’ve come to realize that I am me, I am an individual, and that how I deal with my diagnosis is who I actually am, not the label of my diagnosis itself. And if more people realize it’s just a part of the person, not something that person is choosing (like cancer or diabetes), maybe it’ll be easier for that person to deal with. It’s a disease, not a choice.

So… I’m an introvert for the most part. I don’t do real well with small talk, I feel weird trying to do it. But I do like talking with people. I’ve realized this, as I’ve gotten comfortable with my job. I like chatting with and “helping” the patients we have. I like making them feel at ease. I like helping them feel a little more comfortable with the idea of having their test, with getting whatever diagnosis they get and owning the fact that it might not be ideal, but they’re learning about what’s going on with them. They’re learning now what too many people learn to late. I almost feel like I’m giving them hope.

And I really feel that it’s that little interaction, that little bit of “humanity” that makes what I do better. I’ve seen people come in afraid and go back to their test less afraid. I hope I make the lives of our techs a little easier.

My hubby has made it clear to me a number of times that I don’t need do what I do. I can stay home, work on my art/jewelry, and make a living there. He makes good money, we don’t live beyond our means, we do quite well. I don’t necessarily need the job, but that maybe, mentally, I need the job. And after talking with my head shrink (as opposed to my medication shrink), I agree. The job is good for me, I’ve come to realize that the interaction with both our patients and my co-workers (at least most of them) is good for me.

When we lost our dear Bonners, it was a serious turning point for me at work. I can never really make clear to those I work with how much it meant to both of us what they did for us. It wasn’t generic. It was very much a “their surviving family needs help getting through” and I know I can never really express to them how much that meant to both of is. It was very much the change for me at work. I belonged. I felt like part of the crew. It really made me weep, even though I didn’t necessarily do so there (I think too many years of “Grow up and get over it” kept me from showing my true emotions). I really wish I could truly long hug everyone I work with to make it clear how much it meant to all of us, both me and my hubby, as well as all the “kids”.

So, yeah…. a bit of an introvert. Some people get it (Lisa who knows what I was like growing up, and Jon who was with me way back when with the “woman” who was afraid to talk to his friends), and I know quite a few don’t. But think of the most shy person you know. That was me at one point. I just moved past it because it was necessary to help the animals that I was working with. They were the most important thing to me at that time. Their lives were often in my hands. And I took that seriously. That’s why I became able to deal with the general public. Now it’s become a habit, but often times I need a break. It’s exhausting to me. It’s like running a marathon. So, when I seem to tense up and “freak out” at times, that why. Give me a few minutes and I’ll be alright. Try to force me to keep at it, and you’ll see someone really freak out. 🙂

Anxiety, panic attacks and other brain issues

Some days an anxiety will take hold in my brain and it just won’t let go. Often times it’s not even related to anything that should be causing anxiety (the loss of our pets, the situation with my family, vehicle issues), it’s just something that “switches on” and I can’t turn it back off again. These are the times that the Ativan is made for, but at the same time I hate to fall back to it (I will, but I prefer to see if I can beat it by myself first) (Oh, and the Ativan is my take when needed anxiety pill, but I worry about becoming dependent on it so I take it sparingly), and that can sometimes increase the anxiety. These kinds of days now come much less often, but they’re still bad when they come.

Think of the most stressful day at work or personal situation you’ve ever had. Think of how your mind runs at a thousand miles an hour and you can’t think straight. Think of the knot you get in your stomach or the lump in your throat because of what’s going on. That’s what this feels like. Now, make it about nothing at all, or something as simple as “The light bulb burned out when I flipped the light switch!” and you might understand why people don’t often talk about it when it happens to them. When I feel like this, I hesitate to say anything about it because there’s no “concrete” cause for it and often people don’t understand it.

But the brain is a very complex thing and we don’t understand it even an eighth as much as a dog understand how an engine works. The brain can help us or it can hinder us (and sometimes, both at the same time). We can affect it in some ways with medications, but we’re not even always sure why it gets affected the way it does (or why it will work one way for one person and not the same for another person).

Remember this when you’re tempted to tell someone to “Just shake it off” or “It’s all in your head”. Yes, it IS all in my head, and that’s the problem. No one in their right mind would want this kind of thing to be a regular occurrence… but then I suppose you could say I’m not necessarily in my right mind. Regardless, I’d love to never have to deal with this again.

Unfortunately, this is the brain I was born with and I have to make do with it as best I can. I can’t change it anymore than I can change where my heart is, who my parents are, and the hospital I was born in. I can dye my hair, but it’s still going to grow out my original color. I can wear colored contacts, but my eyes underneath will still always be blue. I could pretend to not have mental illness, but it’s not going to change the fact that I do. It’s the way it is, and I manage with the help of a fantastically supportive husband, wonderful family and friends who don’t judge me, and sometimes a little white pill with “RX 7” embossed on it.