Sunday, January 8, 2017

My Personality Conundrum - What it's Like to Be INTP, ADHD-I, HSP, and HSS all the Same Time

I have analyzed my personality to death over the last several years and found out how despite all of these categories or "boxes" as some people claim them to be, I'm quite a unique individual, no matter how I identify with something. No one concept is going to explain everything about me or anyone else, and that's the beauty of it all. My identity is not in being ADHD-I, INTP, HSP or HSS, or even a mom or wife or woman, because those are conditions, not identities. Knowing about these things only me to understand how my brain works so I can come to terms with my optimal state of being. What I am continuously fascinated with is how contradictory each of them are compared to the others. Being a Christian also makes things a bit odd on some scale. So here's how these strange combos seem to clash for me:

Quick definitions:
INTP - Introverted, iNtuitive, Thinking, Perceiving by MBTI standards.
ADHD-I - Inattentive Attention Deficit Disorder
HSP - Highly Sensitive Person. Absorbs more sensory stimulation than the average person.
HSS - High Sensation Seekier. Enjoys sensory stimulation and seeks out new experiences.

Being ADHD-I and INTP isn't really that odd in some ways, but there are definitely some things that alienate me from the INTP crowd as someone with inattentive attention deficit disorder.
1) Primarily, I struggle to read. NT personality types are traditionally recognized as big readers, but I always had trouble focusing on books. Only recently did I discover that I really like audiobooks, because I love stories and even nonfiction. I also have trouble watching a lot of TV, and I can't focus on visually consuming books unless I am totally hooked (which takes a while). So, audiobooks have been a lifesaver for me.
2) I also only ever did average in school because I just couldn't focus on my schoolwork. I also struggled to care about it.
In fact, this combination drives me to care less about a lot of things. Being an INTP doesn't necessarily make someone insensitive, but it can be a contributor, as our decision making process is led with logic and not emotions. Because ADHD-I means I can only hyperfocus on one thought at a time (despite needing both my ears, eyes and hands engaged at all times), I often forget to think about others.

These two do not compliment one another very well, however in some ways they can be confused. For example, both people with ADHD-I and HSP have difficulty concentrating in overstimulated environments and may spend more time daydreaming than being productive in those kinds of situations. I have a number of automatic responses (such as talking about nothing for a really long time) in these situations so if you don't ask me to think too hard about something, I might seem fairly normal. If you want me to do anything more, however, you might want to rethink the atmosphere. Several things about these traits clash, however.
1) ADHD causes an unusual reaction to caffeine in that it is somewhat calming. HSP causes someone to be extra sensitive to caffeine. As a result, I can't tell if I am sensitive to caffeine or not. I know it doesn't spazz me out though.
2) With HSP, one is to look before leaping. I would say I do this the majority of the time, but ADHD normally causes one to act without thinking first. I don't think I really relate to the ADHD side of this.
3) ADHD and organization are not generally associated with one another, yet HSP seems to demand that I be organized. I am therefore in a constant battle to remain organized. One of my favorite places to shop is in office supply stores.
4) ADHD means inattention to detail, yet HSP means highly observant. I honestly am so confused about this one. I definitely miss a lot of obvious details - it took a toll on my math grades - and yet in a way I feel like I notice a lot of details others don't. For example, I am a perfectionist when I clean. It takes me forever because I jump all over the place, or I hyperfocus on certain things, but I will go crazy and clean everything to perfection in one day if I get the chance.

I think I might also be Dr Aron's definition of a high sensation seeker. These kind of go together, honestly. Basically HSS to me seems like being a perceiving type personality. I like to try out new stuff, I love intensity of everything. I seek these things out. ADHD-I causes me to miss a lot of experiences, however, either because I wasn't paying attention to an opportunity, or because I feel so far behind in accomplishments that I don't think I have the time.

ADHD-I and Christianity
These don't clash, of course (Christianity doesn't clash with anything on this list), but my faith does affect my personality. One of my biggest struggles as a Christian with all of these mental orientations is getting around to all of the things I feel like I should be doing. Naturally, ADHD makes any kind of habit or system difficult, and therefore all the more necessary. I can usually keep up with something for a few months at best, such as reading my bible or writing in my prayer journal.

These two don't mix very normally, except where introversion and HSP overlap.
1) INTPs tend toward selfishness and because we lead with logic and not emotion, we might shun or misunderstand such concepts as empathy. Because emotions are last on the list for an INTP, they might even shut off without warning and simply not feel anything. For an HSP, empathy isn't a choice. This is why I cry a lot even without feeling anything. I cry far more than the average INTP. I am highly attuned to the emotions in the room, and handle the negativity of others very poorly, as I tend to absorb it and throw it back at them. I also have, in fact, cried at a story of a friend's ex-roommate. At Panera.
2) Because of #1, I care a lot more about emotional health than most INTPs, and despair more regarding arguments.
3) Because of #1, I am easily moved by things like music and stories. I cry a lot during worship at church. And I like folk. I don't think many INTPs like folk or other such quiet type music.
4) The combination of these can also give me a selfish streak. I never want to leave my house or do anything new for others because it's not part of the routine, and I have a hard enough time keeping up with basic life demands. Plus I am perfectly entertained at home for 3-4 days at a time. I don't even need extra socialization outside of my immediate family more than a few times a week.
5) There is another way in which being an INTP Although I enjoy things that cause me emotion, there are many things that I simply don't react to. Like those motivational sayings or other things that are intended to induce emotion. What I "overreact" to includes stories and certain kinds of music. I also get really excited about a beautiful landscape and can't resist some cute animals. But scrolling through the HSP facebook pages, many posts cause me to wrinkle my nose. Many supposed descriptions of HSPs don't fit me outside of Dr. Aron's page, such as this photo:
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Okay, most of these are true of me, but it makes me squirm to read because I don't like the image of me that it implies - all mushy and into helping people. And I refer you back to #4.
Another example:
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I don't think I am especially lovey. I do definitely dream quite a lot. And suffering is relative to your experience.
Anyway, I fit Dr. Aron's description in almost all ways. It does not mean "emotional", which is what a lot of these posts seem to mean.
In any case, I have a strange relationship with emotions.

I'm not sure if these clash or go together. I would have to know more INTPs on a personal level. Personally though, I love the intense sensory experience that HSP brings me, even the emotional aspect, so other INTPs would probably not relate to this. Many INTPs despise their emotional side, where I seek it out. I purposefully watch movies or listen to music that could make me cry.

INTP and Christianity
Most of the time on forums and the like, you will find that NTs believe in atheism or ambiguous things, but if you were to travel back in time, NTs would generally be Catholic, because that was the intellectual thing of the day. Farther back, say in Biblical times, it would be Greek culture. I think being an INTP flows nicely with Christianity. I am curious about the theological, historical and factual aspects of my faith. I want to know the truth, and so far the thing that has proven most true is Christianity, and I don't think anything will ever change that. I also like knowing why God ordains certain things, and I seek out the answer (with the full knowledge that I may not discover it until I meet him face to face). I also believe that the head pastor at my church is another INTP.

These work together but are an odd combo. As I stated previously, I don't avoid things like violence in movies. I kind of seek some of it out for the sole purpose that it makes me cringe. I loved the anime Code Geass because it made me so angry, and I still watch A Little Princess because it makes me cry. I want to ride roller coasters because they scare and thrill me at the same time, and I listen to music that moves and inspires my imagination enough so I can write something to twist the feels of another person the way my own feels are knotting up.

HSP, HSS and Christianity
I like this combination. I feel like HSP is part of what melts my sterile intellectual side enough to suck up my pride and accept God as the truth even when I might be embarrassed by it. I'm just too moved to deny my faith, and I want others to understand it as well.
HSS makes me want more.
Song of Solomon 8:6 expresses my desire for an intense relationship very well; "Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of YHWH." It is also this really cool song:
Actually, most of my Christmas music and Christian music is either humorous or very intense/passionate/epic like this.

So that's what it's like to be INTP, ADHD-I, HSP and HSS all at the same time. It is a very intense combination, but I'd say it also contributes to my happiness. Sure, I am prone to selfishness, pride and occasionally even criticism, and I've had to battle anxiety and fears in the past, but my relationship with the Holy Spirit seems to cultivate the good stuff too. I can at least sometimes be taken seriously in emotional matters thanks to being a Christian INTP; I am not totally cold-hearted thanks to being a Christian HSP; I am not a complete shut in thanks to being a Christian HSS; I can't take life too seriously thanks to being a Christian with ADHD-I. No point in complaining!