Sunday, September 18, 2016

Four (or Five) Ways an Extrovert Can Be Introverted

Last time I mentioned four ways an introvert can be extroverted, so it seems only fair to address the opposite situation. No matter how far you lean one way or the other on the E-I scale, MBTI theory places each individual with both introverted and extroverted traits. I've had a couple extroverts read something for introverts and say, "hey, I kinda related to that too, but I am definitely no introvert," and I think, "of course you related to some of it!" Unfortunately it's a little harder to explain than introverts acting like extroverts, so this factor doesn't usually get it's due.

So while you or a friend may have a preference for extroversion, here are four ways an extrovert can be introverted, plus a bonus point at the end:

1) Logical Introversion
These extroverts make their logical decisions quietly and take some time before divulging them. This is a form of introversion that directs logical opinions and determinations inward for examination before expressing them openly. If the individual were looking to build a bridge, for example, they examine everything in great detail, and they would do it exactly how they want it no matter the amount of time it may take to accomplish the task. More theory-oriented extroverts may prone to procrastination because of this extreme perfectionism.

Although they incline toward their logical brain, those with this trait may also feel strongly pulled by their emotions. Therefore, women with this way of thinking often enjoy discussing people, and both men and women prefer conversations to be genial and agreeable. Negativity in a relationship can cause serious insecurity, even if the other party was just trying to be honest, however, this is borne mostly out of a strong desire to create harmony with their community. Confusingly, they usually love to argue in order to uncover truths, and can be critical or even mocking of "lesser" opinions, but it is extremely important to be able to walk away from a disagreement with a sense that everyone is still friends, tension-free. Because emotional health is not necessarily their forte, a little bit of time to step back from a tense situation, as well as friendly encouragement will help them to regain logical footing and resolve emotional conflicts very effectively.
In MBTI, this function is called Ti or Introverted Thinking. It applies to personality types ENTP, INTP, ESTP and ISTP, though xxFJ types may also relate to a lesser degree. Some Fe or Extroverted Feeling is also discussed as it works in tandem with Ti and is easier to recognize.

2) Emotional Introversion
Extroverts with this variation of introversion have strong internal consciences often accompanied by a strong desire to make the world a better place. This can cause them to be more sensitive than your average extrovert. Furthermore, because they process their feelings internally, they might not tell you when something is bugging them. Emotions are very private to them. You can usually afford to be very real about your thoughts and feelings around these extroverts, but just be prepared that they might not be shy about telling you you're wrong, and do not lie or put up a façade about how you feel.

Although more emotionally inclined, these extroverts are usually very industrious and like to tackle things directly and efficiently (or at least what they see as efficient). There is an expression of disapproval that many of these extroverts have mastered, which they utilize when it would be a bad time to start an argument (like say, with a coworker or good friend). They might apply this face with a subtle comment that makes it clear what they think without being directly combative, or they might remain silent, depending on how important the subject matter is. Others whose emotions are introverted might care to be more subtle and can act pretty well, but might still manage to rub people the wrong way.

Despite seeming abrasive to some, however, extroverts like this strongly care for the welfare of others and about doing what is morally right. They don't need it to make sense logically, as long as it makes sense in their moral construct. EXAMPLE: If an emotional introvert is a Christian and they hold this philosophy most precious to them, they will be ready to defend any "rule" or concept which it has to present. If a rule at work conflicts with a Christian ideal, they will defend their Christian ideal, rather than blindly follow the work rule. On the flip side of that, they can also fall easy prey to false information presented as a Christian philosophy if they are not well-versed in it's source (the Bible).
In MBTI, this function is called Fi or Introverted Feeling. It applies to personality types ENFP, INFP, ESFP and ISFP, though xxTJ types may also relate to a lesser degree. Some Te or Extroverted Thinking is also discussed as it works in tandem with Fi and is easier to recognize.

3) Experiential Introversion
This type of introversion causes an individual to bank their experiences with the outside world so as to compare and contrast with other events. This assists in making practical decisions, though sometimes means they have trouble breaking personal traditions. If something has worked well enough for them in the past, then they like to stick with that method in the future as well. Some rather odd characters can come out of this, as people discover different ways to accomplish the same task (not all of them entirely logical, but hey, if it works for them, then what's the fuss). Extroverts with this kind of introversion like discussing stories and experiences, occasionally with an accidental "lecture" tone. 

Although old methods are a favorite, these extroverts also like supplementing their databases with new things, such as traveling to new places, trying new foods or new music. They do require some time to process and savor each experience, so be absolutely 100% sure not to rush them. Contrary to how most people think extroverts ought to enjoy their time, most of this kind really enjoy reading, as a way of absorbing new experiences in a safe, easy-to-access environment. Professions like writing, editing, science and math can be extremely appealing to these extroverts, even if they are more often thought of as "introverted" professions. Exactness and accuracy are extremely important to these extroverts, and they also may have a great talent for detailed description. Some less quirky individuals might be seen as boring to an easily-distracted mind, but stick with them long enough and they'll be sure to make loyal and good-hearted (if not entirely entertaining) companions.
In MBTI, this function is called Si or Introverted Sensing. It applies to personality types ESTJ, ISTJ, ESFJ and ISFJ, though xNxP types may also relate to a lesser degree. Some Ne or Extroverted iNtuition is also discussed as it works in tandem with Si and is easier to recognize.

4) Pondering Introversion
These extroverts are often confused for introverts because they take their time when talking to you. Unlike the extroverted ponderer, the one who utilizes introverted ponderings does not state their incomplete ideas out loud. Instead, they take some time to process the information, and then give you a judgment based on what their idea is. It can be difficult to read them while they think because they are busy perceiving the outer world and that doesn't require a facial expression until a judgment is made. Although they might like to talk a lot for purposes of simple conversation, when it comes to stuff that is truly important, they won't be endless fountains of chatter unless they are already decided on the subject. They want to digest it all internally first, which gives an impression of maturity. In many cases, it can even seem like a pondering introvert is upset with you when they are actually just taking some time to think. It might also seem like they are done talking when they are not, so you must be careful not to interrupt their thinking process. 

Extroverts with this kind of introversion are an interesting balance between experience and deep conversation. They do enjoy having deep conversation more than many other extroverts, however, it's almost equally important to relate on an experiential level - as in, they'll want to spend time doing something with you before they just sit around and chat. They want to make plans, whether it be a computer game or a tea party, and they don't desperately want to share their half-baked ideas, which may not even have words applied to them yet. At their healthiest, they are action driven, goal-oriented planners who do well in a corporate world that requires responsibility and effectiveness.
In MBTI, this function is called Ni or Introverted iNtuition. It applies to personality types ENTJ, INTJ, ENFJ and INFJ, though xSxP types may also relate to a lesser degree. Some Se or Extroverted Sensing is also discussed as it works in tandem with Ni and is easier to recognize. 

HSP (or the Highly Sensitive Person)
In addition to one (or two) of the above, an extrovert might also relate to being Highly Sensitive. While this trait is more commonly discovered in introverts, some extroverts also relate to this concept, introduced by Dr. Aron. What it is, is a tendency to absorb more sensory information than the average person. This can cause simple things that make other extroverts happy to overwhelm these particular people. For example, a bright sunny day might be too much, or worse yet, florescent lights. HSPs might prefer foods that aren't as strongly flavored, in addition to being a bit more picky overall. They (or shall I say "we") typically dislike noisy crowds, and unless they have ADD like myself, caffeine is likely to be overstimulating (though even with ADD, an HSP might want to be careful with caffeine, as it could cause headaches and other problems if taken too much - about 100mg a day is plenty). Many are prone to look like wimps because the sensation of pain is so much stronger in them.

Most HSPs also experience difficulties when it comes to fiction. While those like me may absolutely love the intensity of a movie or book, most are going to want to avoid a lot of graphic or upsetting stories because watching someone get stabbed, no matter how brief, is more or less felt by the HSP in question. So are all of the emotional conflicts and joys; so perhaps they won't want to read the Hunger Games, but that's okay - they'll be just as moved by a beautiful sunset or piece of music. HSPs cry pretty easily as well, and so despite being an extrovert, this one might need to retreat simply to readjust, and might even turn down a request to go see that really good movie.

So, yes, extroverts are primarily extroverted; however, we all love our introverted functions just as much (even extroverts love their introverted sides). While there isn't a whole lot of relating to be discussed when talking about introversion, there is some understanding required. Everyone needs a chance to recharge their introverted brain, whether that be (1) removing oneself from disharmony in order to charge the logic, (2) removing oneself from habitual efficiency to revisit morality, (3) taking a break from new experiences to reexamine old experiences, or (4) taking the time to digest new ideas slowly, internally, and without interference.

Also, of course, there are always other mental factors that play a part in your personal dichotomy. For example, autism and HSP could make someone appear more introverted, while being a high sensation seeker or a chatterer could make someone appear more extroverted. Keeping all of this in mind, it's a bit easier to understand one another not so much as members of an alien race, but rather as humans with unique and complex brain structures.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Four Ways an Introvert Can Be Extroverted

We hear a lot about how introverts and extroverts are different and both need to be understood, but how about finding some common ground? According to MBTI theory, although predominantly introverted, every introvert still has aspects of extroversion, and vice versa (for which I will post later - Four (or Five) Ways an Extrovert Can Be Introverted).

Without further ado, here we are:

1) Logical Extroversion (outwardly expressing your logical determinations)
You might find that some people who profess to be introverts are oddly outspoken about their opinions regarding efficiency and rationalization. Politics and religion are usually favorite topics of theirs, and they don't really care a whole lot if it's "inappropriate", or at least they feel like they shouldn't have to care. Extroverts can tap into this aspect of an introvert best by discussing or accomplishing something important and practical. They will most appreciate an environment that is open and friendly, but also honest enough to disagree out loud. It is rare to find one who doesn't like reading nonfiction.
In MBTI, this is called Te, or Extroverted Thinking, and the personality types who normally relate most would be anything ending in TJ: INTJ, ENTJ, ISTJ, ESTJ. Types ending in FP might also relate to a lesser degree.

2) Emotional Extroversion (outwardly expressing your emotional determinations)
Some introverts are uniquely excited about spending lots of time with people who are important to them. An extrovert can relate simply by being friendly, open and kind. Any kind of negativity can make it hard for this introvert to want to be around you. They want to be a pleasure to those they are around, and are willing to put on a smile even when tired, so try not to overwhelm them with activities. They will usually enjoy discussing anything relating to people, and many are open to talking about their feelings.
In MBTI, this is called Fe, or Extroverted Feeling, and the personality types who normally relate most would be anything ending in FJ: INFJ, ENFJ, ISFJ, ESFJ. Types ending in TP might also relate to a lesser degree.

3) Experiential Extroversion 
The introvert who utilizes this form of extroversion is probably the least talkative, however, they can still be confused for an extrovert when it comes to how active they are. I don't mean that they have to be fit, but their brains are at their healthiest when they get to experience new sensory stimulation, whether that's crafts, shopping, or a ride on a new BMX bike. The best way to engage one of these people is to go do an activity with them, rather than trying to engage them in a lot of conversation.
In MBTI, this is called Se, or Extroverted Sensing, and the personality types who normally relate most would be anything ending in SP: ISTP, ESTP, ISFP, ESFP. Types with the letters NJ might also relate to a lesser degree.

4) Pondering Extroversion 
These are those people who tell you they're an introvert, and then they talk your ear off about it (or any topic they like). This is because some introverts (like myself) are wired to share their ideas and ponderings out loud. It's very likely they aren't going to be interested in going out and doing anything, but you want to hang out and talk? Awesome! Especially if the introvert doesn't have to leave the house. They will gladly talk you to death at their own house, but as long as the environment isn't too wild, they'll be more than happy to talk about whatever the two of you can get going. Watch out for long text messages or other rambling forms of written communication if you open yourself up to them. Often confused with ADD, but um... I actually do have that too.
In MBTI, this is called Ne, or Extroverted iNtuition, and the personality types who normally relate most would be anything ending in NP: INTP, ENTP, INFP, ENFP. Types with the letters SJ might also relate to a lesser degree.

Now you know there's a way to engage us in the world after all. If you know which of these your introverted friend or family member most relates to, it can help you to build your relationship with them, just don't expect it to work 100% of the time - we are still introverts and we still need room for the introverted parts of our brains to be nourished... and so do you, so next time is yours for the reading, Four (or Five) Ways an Extrovert Can Be Introverted.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Meredith's Hierarchy of Health - Personal Food Pyramid and Random Health Info

On the off chance anyone else who finds this is annoyed with all the random health info out there, I pieced together a system that seems to apply to most people. I go mostly paleo, but as I point out a few times, I don't stress about always following the rules. Just enough to avoid cravings is pretty good, and the stuff that is worst for you (#8) typically stops sounding appealing once you've been removed from it for a while. In fact, I desire fruit far more often than desserts these days.

For a bit of background, I've had trouble losing weight since high school, and developed something of a pot belly that drove me nuts because I used to look really nice! It started when I stopped swimming and had a stressful year of school, but then even without the stress years later, and even with two years of kickboxing, it was still there. Even when I lost weight I didn't feel particularly thin. By the time I was done with college, I felt soft and chubby, which was disturbing because there is a problem with weight gain on one side of my family, and one of my grandmothers has hypothyroidism. Another few friends of mine were diagnosed with that as well, and one of them informed me of her journey with food, and discovering that an appropriate diet (which is more or less paleo) can prevent the worst of it. She also mentioned that most doctors have to sign something that says they won't diagnose hypothyroidism until the levels are pretty bad, and then they only treat part of it. She found a doctor who doesn't do this, apparently.

I am incapable of verifying my friend's story, but this last February I was eating something with bread and realized I didn't really care that much about bread, so I might as well consider that paleo thing. I do have many symptoms of a thyroid problem, and I was told as a child to watch it because it was enlarged. My mother also has several symptoms, and it's her mom who has it for sure, so it seemed wiser to try to fix it on my own before it got off track, rather than spend money going to the doctor, if it is even the problem.

Therefore, I did a bunch of research that took me to which I recommend for anyone interested in the sciencey aspect. Or just anything in general. I don't always call myself a paleo follower, because I'm a bit loose on the rules, but looking at myself compared to others, this is the diet perspective that seems to make the most sense to me.

1) The Base of the Pyramid: Nutritionally Packed Leaves, Stems, Low-Sugar Fruits and Roots
Definitely not grains, not even whole grains, but "vegetables". I'm going with a more botany-oriented version here, because most plants that are botanically similar will have similar nutritional values, and if you really want to be technical, any part of a plant can be defined as a vegetable. But I need to split things up a little more for this, and so you will not see "vegetable" in bold on this list.

The main reason that this is at the base of the pyramid is because the ratio of bad to good is pretty heavy on the "good" side. There's lots of good in most of these and not a whole lot of bad.

Most things you would consider "vegetables" would be on this list, so rather than make a list of what is on here, let's make a short list of what is not on here:
  1. Rice and corn - These are not leaves, stems, fruits or roots. These are starchy seeds.
  2. White potatoes - These are technically stems, I just found out, after years of considering them roots. But it doesn't matter. There is almost no nutritional value to a white potato. Sorry.
  3. Beans and lentils - These are also seeds.
  4. Legumes - These are typically seed pods containing lentils. So still a no for this particular department. No seeds in your base!

2) Unprocessed Meat
Sure, you could plan a decently nutritious diet with very little meat, but personally I feel as though if you are eating unprocessed meats, you are going to be better off than trying to acquire the same supplements from other plants, like legumes. It is good to get a good variety of meats, everything from beef to fish, but to give example, stay away from things like lunch meat, unless it's just finely sliced normal meat, pepperoni, sausage, and anything especially greasy.

3) Fruit
Fruit is packed full of vitamins and nutrients, although it is often packed full of sugar as well. It's perfectly fine to eat lots of it, as long as you pair it with something more grounding, like dessert after a meal of meats and pyramid base vegetables.

This is the last point in which you actually need anything in your diet. #4-#6 are all optional for health, if you are eating plenty of #1-#3.

4) Unprocessed Dairy
Some people have trouble with dairy, so if that's the case, it's probably best to avoid, however, if you can fit it in, it's not really bad for you.

The good thing about dairy is that it contains healthy fats, and can also contain quite a bit of protein. Plus, it is cheaper than meat, and can be easier for grab and go snacks. I can't eat lactose, personally, but I enjoy saving some greek yogurts for a quick thing to grab, or to add into smoothies, and plain greek is a good replacement for sour cream. It comes with a lot of carbohydrates as well, however, in addition to more fat than necessary, so keeping the dairy on the DL is probably best for most of us. But I still eat it with most of my meals, as long as I keep it to cheeses with plenty of health benefits.

5) Nothing But Carbs
Yeah, it's not very nutrient dense, but white potatoes and white rice also won't give you a gassy stomach. If you're prone to digestion problems, it's probably okay to occasionally indulge in white potatoes and white rice every once in a while, just be aware that you're not going to be slimming down any time soon if you have too much. At this point, you are also no longer paleo, but you also don't need to be a stick in the mud when you're out with friends for sushi or mom made fancy mashed potatoes.

6) Seeds That You Can Tolerate. For me: Psuedo-Grains, Some Legumes, and Lentils
This one and #5 are somewhat interchangeable depending on the level of digestive issues you suffer. If you don't suffer from a painful, bloated gut from eating beans or split peas, this might not be a big deal for you. Personally, I am fine with split pea soup but no such luck with beans. I can also have plenty of quinoa, but no on the brown rice. Which is a big bummer because white rice is boring. 

Up until this point, you aren't really running into particularly bad foods. This is the last number with "healthy" food and the rest I would recommend avoiding.

7) Seeds That You Can't Tolerate. For me: Wheat, Corn, Brown Rice, Beans, Anything with Gluten
Let me point out really quick that gluten is a protein. It's not inherently bad, just something that we may have too much of in our modern day meals, and anything with gluten has the same negative effects as corn and brown rice do. Actually, I prefer rice over corn, too, but it all gives me a stomach ache.

And stomach aches are the reason that all of this is down here at #7. Most seeds have natural defenses in place to prevent you from going back and eating more, preventing the plant from reproducing. Cooking seeds minimizes the effect of course, and there are ways to minimize it by soaking and whatever, but who has the time to care about that? It's way easier and healthier to just skip this whole section when meal planning anyway, unless you're used to boxed foods like I was. But once you start cooking, a meat and a veggie dish is all you need and that's kind of a relief, honestly. I hate cooking.

If you're looking for information on why no beans or rice or anything, I recommend searching for further reading. I think the viewpoints there are pleasantly un-extreme, logical, and researched.

Furthermore, be aware that some people simply don't have that many digestive issues and won't even have a #7. There's no need to push your eating habits on them, and there's no reason for you to let them push theirs on you. Just say your stomach hurts when you eat whatever it is that bugs you.

8) Refined Grains, Mystery Preservatives and Added Sugar
The problem with added sugar is primarily that it throws your blood sugar out of whack, which will cause you to crave more. The same thing goes for refined grains, which has no nutritional value on top of including all the same things you don't want in the seeds you can't tolerate. There's just not really any benefit to refined grains at all.

If you're going to eliminate anything from your diet, don't eliminate a nutrition factor like carbs, sugars or fats. Those things are all good for you if they come from the right sources. Going low carb might be good to curb cravings, but no carb can contribute to brain fog, as can low fat and low sugar. You need these things, but in moderation. What you should eliminate instead, are the food products that have distorted your carbs, fats and sugars, as well as products that cause you to crave ridiculous amounts, ultimately leading you to crash.

9) Stress
There's no need to get stressed about your food. The more stressed you are, the less likely you are to keep up with the diet, and you're also less likely to lose the weight. Of course, you'll have fewer stress problems already if you're not dealing with digestive pains, but think of it as a present to yourself, not a problem. Find easy solutions to your problems, such as purchasing steamfresh vegetables instead of cooking them all by yourself. Assuming you don't have severe dietary restrictions from your doctor, there's nothing wrong with eating your produce frozen. Yeah, fresh is better, but maybe you're lazy like I am. Find a system that works for you, and stick with it.

Random Health Lifehack:
I have really bad acid reflux. If you have really bad acid reflux, you've probably heard of a lot of things that help, but I thought I'd throw some extra stuff out there. Any and all points help, especially the fish oil if you've got GERD or similar intensity:

  • Don't eat too close to bed
  • Avoid sugar, especially added sugar (most important)
  • Avoid acid (duh) and ditch the soda completely
  • Avoid grease (less important)
  • Take probiotics - Probiotics are bacteria in your intestines that are supposed to help your body break down food. This can help you to have better reactions to foods and sometimes makes a difference with acid reflux. When we are exposed to lots of antibiotics, especially medicinally, we kill that bacteria that we need, and probiotics can help to build it back up. You can get them in certain dairy products like kefir and yogurt, but I prefer to just take the supplements so I can be sure I'm getting all I need. I get the kind that are refrigerated (so the bacteria are alive when I get it) and then the directions indicate to take for about a month, and then you can stop. You can take them again next time you have to take antibiotics.
  • Eat healthy fats and take fish oil - I get the kind you have to keep refrigerated. It's kind of expensive, but wow does it help. It's got healthy fats in it, which really help your body to rebuild the things that acid reflux destroys. This is the most helpful thing when your reflux has progressed to GERD or is getting in your sinuses, since it repairs the problem areas. 
  • Drink lots of water and get plenty of sleep. Don't stress yourself out. Don't drink water during an attack though, because it'll thin out the acid and make it temporarily worse.
  • If you have other digestive problems, try an elimination diet, where you eliminate all but the necessary things (meat and veggies) and then add other stuff back in slowly. It is possible you are having trouble because of a food sensitivity that is irritating your system.
  • Detoxing by drinking excess water, sweating, eating "real" foods only, and having regular bowel movements can help
  • Decide to like vegetables. They taste better if you pay more attention to their flavors and textures, especially when you're skipping out on #8 of the hierarchy

Monday, June 6, 2016

Why I Defend Cincinnati Zoo's Decision

I'm thoroughly fed up with the bigoted judgements floating around on this topic. I tried not to say anything, but I'm too worked up because this subject hits me in a personal way - I am currently pregnant with my first child, and there was a terrible accident in my family before I was born, that almost declared my parents unfit. So allow me to elaborate on the two most popular arguments.

1) Gorilla or child? 
I'm under no delusion about human innocence, nor even the innocence of a child. Children are not innocent - they are naïve. The child who crawled and fell into that pen was a naïve child, not an innocent one. The gorilla, like all animals, was innocent and behaved according to the way any gorilla might while being screamed at from all sides. I feel bad for Harambe. He didn't deserve death.

However, this is the very reason we cannot stand by to leave the child to fend for itself in mortal peril. Children are born helpless, trusting and as I said, naïve. In foster children, especially those who frequently return home to give fallen parents a twelfth try at being their guardian, trust is a difficult thing to earn. Foster children often suffer poorer grades when at these homes. The lack of structure due to being tossed between their biological parents and their foster parents is devastating to a sense of stability, and in destabilizing the environment for these kids, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to become healthy and productive members of society, and especially of a household. Chain reactions of bad treatment are passed down generation to generation in some cases, all because they were broken as children. Often, rather than being shown mercy, these kids are harshly judged.

What does that have to do with Harambe and the three year old? Trust. The moment we stop defending human life is the moment we become incapable of trust, toward so-called security, toward each other as humans, toward God if you had any to start with, and even toward nature. Ask yourself what it would do to you to watch a three year old ripped to pieces or smashed by a wild animal. Would your sense of trust and security be shaken? You bet, and deeply too. Now you want to know why that's a bad thing: fear is what replaces trust. If you really need to know why fear is so bad for you then read any history book ever and notice how your evil dictators get everyone to follow them into despicable actions. Most of the worst atrocities in history start with fear, and the evidence is not hard to find, so maybe before we jump to the conclusion that the gorilla should have lived because of human faults, we ought to also consider the kind of mental meyhem that would have caused, and the reason why we do form societies and protect other humans, especially our moldable children.

In making the decision about shooting the gorilla, I don't give a crap if the parents were negligent. That is completely irrelevant in the matter of whether or not to save the child's life.

2) Were the parents even negligent?

I have a personal story to share here. Approximately one year before I was born, my mom was preparing the bath for my older brother. Briefly, she had to turn away and in an instant, my brother, 10 months old at the time, had turned on the water. He had turned it all the way up. I think my aunt owned the house they were in, or something, because she was responsible for the fact that the water heater was also turned all the way up (not sure if she did this, or a previous occupant - she may not have known). My brother was severely burned because my mom turned away for twelve seconds.

Since this incident, my brother received more than fifty surgeries - my mom lost count after that - and still has scar tissue covering a large percentage of his skin. His right hand was not circulating blood after the burn, and so the figers were amputated. Although an attempt to place new fingers there was tried, he still can't do a whole lot with that hand.

Shortly after this nightmare, my mom also withstood several trials, culminating in her being the only individual capable of making decisions in my family. First was of course my brother and his surgeries. Then she became pregnant with me but found out she had a gallbladder problem that required surgery. Then my father was diagnosed with brain cancer. And then I was born and had a bunch of ear infections. And then of course, there was the fact that despite being cleared in one state and by the Air Force, the state of Arkansas where we lived at the time, tried to take custody of my brother away. 

I didn't learn about this fact until after I was married myself, but it gave me pause. I had always looked up to all of my family members for how they endured everything thrown at them, and had wondered how my mom dealt with my brother being burned on an emotional level. Honestly, she didn't even have another child to be distracting like the mother in the Harambe incident and my brother still got burned. One time I did have someone try to claim she was a bad parent and I berated them for assuming they knew everything, because I can't imagine life without my brother or my mom. I probably overreacted to that person but no one had ever said that about her and they couldn't be more wrong in my eyes. Sure, I argue with my mom, and we don't always see eye-to-eye, bt she was a great parent. Both my brother and I grew up knowing we were loved and secure. He is even thinking about working in the burn unit as a nurse, where he would no doubt connect with many of the patients there in a positive way. In fact, my brother and my mom have an even closer bond than I do with either of them. Instead, I bonded most with my father, whose strong influence has made me into a gentler, and more confident human being. Furthermore, seeing the strength of his relationship to my mother has wizened me to understand what love truly looks like. Frankly, what they have taught me would be far too much to list here, but to stay on topic, they especially taught me the lesson of Job.

No human being is innocent or perfect. Everything we have is a gift, though we do at times misuse our gifts. Primarily though, strife falls upon everyone equally. Just because you worked hard doesn't mean you will get what you worked for, even if it increased your chances. Just because a kid stole your bike doesn't mean you will get justice. Just because you never take your eye off your child and have surgically removed any need to blink doesn't mean they won't come to trouble. The fact is, you can't be perfect, parents can't be perfect, the world isn't fair, and you never know what can be born from the ashes of a bad situation if only you have the endurance and wisdom to recognize it.

Romans 5:3-4 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Furthermore, Jesus has quite a bit to say about pride against your fellow human being, that really transforms into common sense: 

Luke 6:37-38 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” 

Matthew 18:21-34 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed."

Don't leap so quickly to judgments. Your heart is no less corrupt than another's, and and you will be judged by your own words when the time comes for you to make a devastating, regrettable mistake.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

I Promise I Really Am an INTP: Adventures with Borderline Personality Disorder

So... I was reviewing my recent posts on here, and I found myself very embarrassed at all the feels. Sometimes I forget that people actually see my blog now. I'll leave most of it up because I didn't fully read them and determine it was time to delete them. The fact is, if I didn't say it in 8 places already, I broke off a relationship with this girl who very likely had borderline personality disorder, and she had made me sick. She didn't mean to, of course, but it happened nonetheless and so I still felt rather odd for about 9 months after I closed communication. And for the benefit of skimmers who skipped this paragraph and are going "OMG AN INTP WITH BORDERLINE WHAT'S THAT LIKE?":

I am not the one with borderline

But the person with borderline is in fact an INTP anyway.

Anyway, it's actually a really long story, and I have no evidence that anyone is even interested in hearing, so let me tell you anyway because I'm obnoxious.

I have an obsession with my stories.
I want to write them down only because I am obsessed with them. The characters, the settings, the tales themselves. All of it. Basically if no one is going to be talking to me, then I turn to a story-universe. When my best friend decided she had grown out of toys, I started making up stories in my head instead, consciously deciding that I would NOT become one of those mundane adults who does not have an imagination. This was probably unnecessary, but that's okay because I have some incredible stories up my sleeve, if only I'd finish writing them down. Growing up after toys were below my age group, I would pretend I was a character. I was a character being driven somewhere. I was a character exploring something. I was a character doing homework, or if I was in class, my eyes would glaze over as I pretended this classroom was full of my character's classmates and they were doing whatever it was they did in class. They did not replace my friends. They were me, and I was them. When I was talking to my friends, I was me. When I  was not, I was my character, doing whatever my character would do, which was not usually what I would do, because my character was probably socially inept so that they could express the inner thoughts that I would never say out loud.

The weird part begins: That may seem like an unimportant detail, but it is not. When I started to reveal this very secret inner world to a friend of mine who admitted she had "characters", I was very excited that she was quite similar to me. She was less focused on the plot aspect, but she did have characters and something of a setting. However, I didn't suspect any of the following psychological items to be of major importance at the time:

  • Borderling Personality Disorder - I had heard of it, but the idea of it didn't even cross my mind
  • ADHD - I don't get much into this, but ADHD was the root of a lot of my anxiety previous to this incident, and the anxiety is largely what caused me to retreat so heavily into this relationship in the first place
  • HSP - another cause of some anxiety, but mainly sensitivity, because that's what it is.
  • MBTI - I thought I was an INFJ, actually. Anyway, I had fun with this stuff before, but then it got kind of crazy when I started really learning how MBTI actually works. Then it was a fun puzzle and I obsessed over it. But initially I was just passively labeled as an INFJ, or in some scenarios an INFP. Neither of those is correct, obviously. But the main point is that I obsessed, and I obsessed to the point of it interfering with storying because I had a hard time not automatically labeling characters and then having them follow the formula that MBTI laid out for them. That is not the intended purpose of MBTI, and real people may have specific wirings that appear to group into the 16 personality types, but real people do not fit the stereotypes, because real people do different things for different reasons. I myself am proof of that. My characters lost their creative origins, basically.
The unfortunate thing was that she totes did have borderline personality disorder (well, probably) and we fought all the time. We mostly fought because she didn't think I was being sensitive enough in some arbitrary way that no normal human cares about on a deep level, and she had really bad inferior Fe (fellow INTP). Initially, she didn't like it when my broody character out-brooded her broody character, because mine was mean to hers and extra bitter in general. That and I'm awesome at character conversations (or I was, anyway). Then she was mad because I wasn't as into her characters as she was into mine, which I didn't get at all, because I didn't really get why she was so into mine in the first place. I mean, I was somewhat flattered as well as thankful toward the Most High because I honestly think they're a gift, and I did think they were quite worthy stories, it's just... these are my stories. So of course I love them.

Detour about fanning: When I fangirl, it's because I can see someone else has created a story that is at least as good as mine, and maybe even better, but that story is not my story. At most I want to purchase an Alaskan Willow "wand" from a local heritage festival for Harry Potter cosplay (but I'll be my own character, thanks), and perhaps a set of Ravenclaw robes. Another thing I want to do is dress my American Girl dolls up in homemade water tribe, earth kingdom, fire nation and air nomad costumes from the Nickelodeon cartoon, "Avatar: The Last Airbender". I also like a lot of Tolkein stuff. Frankly, though, characters are of 45% importance, and plot is another 45%. A unique and interesting setting is the last 10%. She was missing 45% of what makes a universe interesting to me. And just to make mention of it, yes, I fangirl about music that inspires story stuff and I don't like it if it doesn't fit with my story. Sorry country music, sorry secular pop, and sorry secular rap. You offer nothing to me.

Unfortunately, she also happened to like my ex-villain character and so her villain character (by far the most interesting personality at first) struck up a relationship during our second and only successful RP (role play). There was no way this relationship was going to go well because my character at this point was an eccentric, but whole-hearted Christian, and BPD was determined that hers would never be, which is fine but it kind of ruins either my character or the relationship. If I could have had my character kick hers out and they could have had a battle of sorts, that probably would have ended in her character getting shot or stabbed in self defense, I probably would have gone that route, but I don't think she would have liked it so I just let my character deteriorate.

Meanwhile, I too, was deteriorating. I'd quit attending church because I was staying up too late on Saturday nights to RP, plus I didn't really feel like going anymore. During a fight I even looked for another RP friend because I thought the whole thing was over, but apparently BPD has a hard time letting go, so she came back and apologized. Moreover, I noticed myself becoming very, very sensitive. By this I don't mean emotionally - I was actually losing passion - what I mean is physically. I couldn't stand having a lot of light or sound in my vicinity. I mostly listened to folk because other music had begun to seem offensive to my delicate ears. I also didn't like leaving the house for much of anything. I had a lot of hilariously stupid nightmares about dinosaurs and aliens, but the fear would linger for an hour or so after I had fully woken up and checked out the windows to be sure the apocalypse hadn't come and gone during my nap. For comparison, recently I had a dream that a strange leviathan-ish creature and a bunch of demons spilling out of it's mouth were attacking long island, and that terror evaporated immediately upon waking, and in fact, slightly before, because there's no reason for me to be afraid of demons when I am trusting a higher entity.

My other friends stopped asking me to hang out very often, and when we did, I had nothing to say to them anymore. At first, it didn't seem too off - my head was on stories and they didn't know my stories - but then I realized all of my relationships were dying. Normally, people start trying to talk to me when they notice me drifting into Meredith-land, especially family members, but somehow, that just didn't happen this time. It was like there was something about me that just gave off this closed-vibe so people kind of shut me out of their minds subconsciously, as I was shutting them out. I also slowly became kind of mean, but it took a long time for me to realize it. To me, the worst thing was that I was also incapable of storying. RP felt empty after that one attempt, and I couldn't get into it for very long, or if I did, BPD didn't like it and we would stop. She took up so much of my conscious brain-space, too, that I didn't story the way I used to. I couldn't step into the head of any character I was not RPing, and even then, it was hard, because from the time I woke up to the time I went to sleep I was doing something in real life or responding to her, so where was there time to work in my own headspace?

Detour about MBTI: Around this time, I also discovered I had incorrectly taken on the INFJ label. I take stories like puzzle pieces that I have to put together, just bits and pieces of things I like, and it is usually in order to answer a question I am curious about:
e.g. "What makes us human?" - every sci fi novel ever
and "Why is it wrong to ________, or is it wrong at all?"
I briefly considered the possibility of INFP, but the dominant function for an FP is introverted feeling, as in, a sort of moral code that is internalized. They seem to always have words for how they feel and are not confused about it at any point, unless maybe they're mentally sick. They know where they stand on most issues and they usually get the phrase, "Follow your heart," because they do that every day. They keep their feels to themselves until the words are forced out.

(More Detour about MBTI): I, on the other hand, see myself as fluffy, chatty and friendly on the outside (Ne-Fe) but calculated, emotionally resilient, and even a bit cold on the inside (Ti-Si).  There's no evidence for being a feeler at all, Fi or Fe. I get over stuff fast, only settle a moral when I know why it should be a moral, view society as a part of a machine that doesn't work but can at least be improved, and 90% of the time if you asked me to describe how I felt, I wouldn't really know what you meant, but I would certainly give you my opinion on the situation. "How do you feel about..." to me is the same as "What is your opinion on...."

(More Detour about MBTI): "Follow your heart" is the biggest piece of crap statement that has ever reached my ears. I follow my logic, or my impulses, or get paralyzed by indecisiveness because I am stuck between the two. "Follow your heart to reach your dreams" means about as much to me as saying, "Follow your chair to reach your kitchen". Further proof against anything feels, I struggle with intellectual vanity, not moral superiority; and more often than not, I feel a little sick when I read stuff that is supposed to be inspirational, even if I think it's true. I have experimented with sharing such phrases on facebook during my dead time after the BPD incident, but not a good idea. It's too corny for me. And for the sake of all that is good, don't ever read an emotional diatribe written by me. It will be the corniest, most cliché thing you've ever laid eyes on. I also suck at poetry. None of that is dominant introverted feeling. It is rather, introverted thinking and inferior extroverted feeling.

Back on topic: It was the January after BPD and I started RPing, so almost 9 months later, and I was realizing that this wasn't going to end on it's own, so I needed to do it, but by then my brain had turned to mush and I couldn't figure out how best to close things down. Especially because BPD knew a bit too much about me. I noticed myself sink a little further at the thought. While I was thinking of this between January and March, nothing much happened aside from getting berated about being dead inside. But in March, BPD had a little adventure that removed her from my life. I was hoping it was semi-permanent, because she would be living out of state from now on. Sadly, I was still too wimpy and out-of-it to just tell her that, plus I was getting an occasional email about her not doing so well. I didn't have much to say to her, because I was doing great and it seemed kind of cruel to be like, "Oh so you're going through this crappy time... that sucks... well I don't want to be your friend anymore." So I said nothing. She sensed it though.

Still, I really was doing great in her absence. I had quit going to church the previous year on Easter of 2014. I went back a few times between then and Easter 2015, but I'd felt no motivation to attend the whole time. But when I came back in 2015, while BPD was gone, I was ready to attend regularly again. Never mind that at this very moment, it's been almost 6 weeks since I have been to church. I still want to go. In short, I was getting better all around and I decided if things didn't work out for her to move out of state (and even if they did) I wasn't putting up with the crap anymore.

We had a fight the day she contacted me in April. I felt light and free for about two days. Then she apologized profusely and I felt guilty not giving her another chance. Little did I know, that I was incapable of giving her another chance. As soon as I felt the burden of our friendship return, it came with all the physical sensitivity, emptiness, and raise that a lack of words. To talk, after all, you need to have thoughts, but if I spent too much time thinking in the sensitive emptiness, I'd literally lose my mind. And because thinking is second-nature to me, I did lose my mind.

A month or two later in June, I had a complete meltdown because my brain was incapable of playing a story to put me to sleep and I couldn't stop thinking about it. I originally started doing stories with myself because I do think too much when I'm trying to fall asleep, so pretending I was someone else while I slept helped occupy my brain while it drifted away. Without the ability to sleep or think, I wanted to kill myself, or at least cut to see if it actually worked, but I did not because:
A) My husband would probably have stopped me/would have found out if I cut and then I'd be embarrassed most likely (it's not like it actually helps the situation)
B) I'm not really sure. I just got up and interrupted my husband's nap instead of going for the knives. I'll call that God.

By that evening, I was too terrified to die anyway (though I was too terrified to live as well) and I felt awful until my husband and parents had prayed over me and we'd played a game of Apples to Apples. By the end of that, I was knocked out by migraine medication and a lack of sleep.

Automatically, my emotional hemisphere separated itself from the rest of me. It was still there and I still reacted to things, but for some reason I wasn't processing it. It's a very difficult concept to describe, but disassociation is the psychological term for it. I was still me, but I was inaccessible. If my brain was a city, I was still in it's airspace, but looking down from someplace very high, or perhaps looking up from someplace very low, rather than being involved in it. Buildings were blowing up and I reacted, but it still wasn't me. I lost touch with all motivations and interests and obsessions, which was probably partly the medication I was on, and also just the way I was handling the emotional problems I'd run into. I talked to a pastor, visited my grandmother's every Tuesday to do a craft and chat, my mom's every Friday, and the library all of the other days.

Slowly, my relationships began to improve, but I still couldn't write very well. If I only focused on the light parts of the story, I was bored, and if I only focused on the heavy parts, I would take an emotional nosedive because what my characters would go through, especially the ones I felt most connected to at the moment, was disassociation. And that was too similar to my own issues. So my writing was very empty, or else it made me depressed. It was also rather elementary in form, as though I had forgotten how.

In the middle of that summer, I went on a float trip with some family and friends. It was a fun adventure, considering the river was flooded and if you tipped you'd be out of the canoe for quite a while. At one point, my husband and I ran into some branches and tipped, knocking a gray wolf spider the size of my hand onto our cooler. It rode with us until we managed to right our canoe. Yes, I was panicking. Anyway, while I was sitting in the warm sun after the tipping spider incident incident, I realized I always felt so much better when Ms BPD was far away, so the day I got back, I sent her an apologetic email that was probably as cold and distant as I felt from myself, stating that I would be breaking off contact from her. When she responded furiously, I replied in my dissociative manner yet again and left it at that. She was incapable of understanding what my problem was, and I was incapable of explaining it any further because I didn't fully understand it myself, and still don't.

She sent me texts, emails, voicemails and letters for a while, and every time she stopped by, I would feel low and empty for a couple weeks. It was very creepy, and it gave me an impression that something more deeply spiritual was occurring than I had realized. I knew that Evil Sunday definitely had a combo of chemical and spiritual origins, so it didn't seem out of place that perhaps the spiritual issues resided with BPD herself. Later I also confirmed that in all likelihood, she had the disorder. She left a 5 page typed letter bribing me with a $100 bill, openly admitting that it was bribery so as not to insult my intelligence I guess, and then apologizing to me, complaining about me, telling me she cared about me like a sister, but that she can't stop shipping a character of mine with a character of hers, and that she wasn't sure if she could get over this yet she'd "accept [me] back". It conflicted itself several times. I showed it to a psychologist and Borderline was their assessment. It was actually BPD's assessment too, but it didn't really matter to me if she got help at that point. As a mere shell of my former self, I was already incapable of encouraging the relationship further.

So that's what happened and why I was all weird and feely. I started improving around November when all the medication was out of my system. In January I tried a 90% paleo diet and discovered why I'd had such a painful pot belly for so many years (probably gluten, or maybe just grains in general). In February our tax return gave us a bunch of money so I started planning a vacation for May, and in March I found out I was 4 weeks pregnant. By April, we were looking at houses to move into, and my preggo hormones kicked in and put me in a great mood, so now I feel normal. By May I had decided that God is my playmate and purpose in the endeavor of writing, and the stories are just little crumbs without him, so it's okay to be excited about them, as long as I'm excited because they are revealing something about him.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Sentimentality- INTP Style

I throw away almost every single card I get, and I do not write thank you notes. The only cards I keep, actually, are the ones that make me laugh, or if they can double as something else worth keeping around the house. So, no. I would not call myself especially sentimental.

Yet, I can't delete the contacts of most old friends that I never talk to anymore.