The difference between Bipolar Disorder and Personality…

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There came a point in my recovery journey where the meds had kicked in and things had calmed down…for everyone involved…and a new situation emerged. That situation had turned out to be a feud between personality and bipolar. All those idiosyncratic foibles that I have were wrapped up neatly and placed in a box with a giant bipolar bow. Here is the issue and why I call it a feud; my perception of myself and what others perceive me to be are two totally different and often opposite view points and those foibles are personality traits not psychosis…so they didn’t stay in the box, which upset several people in my life.

the crux of the issue…

I feel like I am probably the most boring and neutral person alive and I am ok with that. Here was the shocker…for me…it turns out that most people think I am a cold, angry, villainous alien. This realization was hurtful and I tried to fix it. I spent most of my childhood and a good decade or so of my adolescence/early adulthood trying to be what others wanted me to be or at least mimic some semblance of their “normal.” The issue with this is I wasn’t being true to myself and therefore I was subjecting myself to an over abundance of crap that resulted in stress which caused my neuro-chemistry to misfire and I ended up suffering several undiagnosed bipolar episodes and the eventual big one that resulted in a nice stay at Club Med.

So, when people started attributing all my personality foibles as bipolar disorder that diagnosis gave me a get out of jail free card. People started flocking back into my life; after I ceased to be psychotic, thinking I was fixed and all would be well in the world. Wrong! Here is what the medication and therapy “fixed.”  My brain chemistry is stable. It helped with the psychosis or at least most of it…(subject for another time), it helped with the delusions and stopped the racing thoughts, my moods are stable. I am now no longer an insomniac that has her weight drastically yo-yoing for no apparent reason and my vitals are stable. Therapy has helped me to become aware of, understand and process “me” and all the things I hadn’t accepted about myself and therefore previously tried to radically change to my detriment.

Here is what the meds and the therapy didn’t help (because no help was needed)…other people’s perception of me. Sadly, most people still see me other than what I truly am and I can’t change that. I can only accept that I am who I am and if they can not see  “me” (as I am) than that is their issue not mine. The two rarest personality types (Myers-Briggs Spectrum) are the INTJ and INFJ. I am an INTJ and as a female I am 0.5% of the population, which explains why I think no one understands me…they don’t. My brother is an INFJ the rarest of the rare and because we have similar personality functions I mimic his F when I have to meet with people (that I don’t know). It is less stressful on me and on others. Why does this work?

It works because I didn’t radically change how I function…in short…I am still being authentic to my IN&J, the functions that we have in common, it is the F that I do not have that seems to be making all the difference in my relational dynamics. I can mimic F for a limited amount of time and then slowly revert back to my T once people get to know me better, limiting misunderstandings all around. It is that T that has me perceived as an emotionally detached alien being, which actually isn’t even remotely true. INTJ’s have feelings, we feel very intensely and sometimes it becomes to much for us to deal with so we retreat and process what it is that we are experiencing.

What do all those letters mean exactly?

“I” represents Introvert. Introverts derive their mental energy from being alone as opposed from being with others. They will look within first if there is an issue, listen more than talk, think, then act and are comfortable being alone; self-contained. They have great concentration and prefer to focus on one thing at a time. We don’t need the limelight and fanfare but do occasionally like to have someone (anyone really) acknowledge our contributions to a project but who doesn’t.

“N” represents Intuition. Intuitive people will focus more on concepts than experiences. They see the big picture and all the possibilities. They trust their gut instincts, are drawn to things that are new, different, novel or even whimsical. They are future oriented. They like to learn new skills but prefer to figure it out for themselves and are prone to work in bursts of energy.

“X” represents that “T” and “F” and I am going to address them after I address the “J.”

“J” represents Judgment. People with the “J” take responsibility seriously, work first, play later, finish projects, are time oriented and therefore usually prompt. They find comfort in schedules and routines, make plans and stick to them and understand the necessity of having rules even if they don’t agree with them. They need closure.

Which brings us back to “X” (F&T)

“F” represents Feeling                vs.         “T” which represents Thinking

Feelers value harmony and compassion, which means they will avoid arguments and conflicts, and are diplomatic and tactful. They are convinced by how they feel and therefore make emotionally based decisions. They are sensitive and will take things personally but wont often let you know that you have hurt them. They exude the warm-fuzzies which can thaw the grinchiest of Grinches.

vs.

Thinkers value honesty and fairness and will make decisions objectively. We like to argue, not because we know we are right but because it is fun and it is also how we process information. Give us a great rational argument and you can change our mind about anything. We are honest and direct (to a fault) and we are not going to take things personally so don’t worry about upsetting us. We are hard-wired to see flaws…in everything but don’t worry, since we are motivated by achievement and an unquenchable thirst for knowledge we are going to figure out when, why and how the system became flawed and then invent a way to fix it.

As I have previously mentioned in this blog, my brother is an angel. People love him. I love him but as much as I love my brother he is a mystery to me, which is common among INFJ’s. They have this gift of innately knowing exactly what other people need or want but ask that other person about the INFJ and I doubt they have any clue about who that person really is. Don’t get me wrong…INFJ’s are saints….nothing sinister is lurking in the dark. They want to help everyone, they are diplomatic peacekeepers out to save the planet one human at a time but they posses an element of mystery. You will never fully know or understand an INFJ.

…which I find incredibly fascinating…

and brings me back to my “T” function and clearly it is obvious that I spend an inordinate amount of time utilizing this process, which undoubtedly doesn’t help with that cold, angry alien perception. The truth is that “T” may give me a cold uncaring appearance but it is simply an appearance. I do care. I am just not able to naturally exhibit care in a way most people recognize.

So, how does an INTJ show they care and why do I mimic my INFJ brother when I meet someone new? That is a post for next week…

 

Photo taken by Pamela. Photos taken with a Nikon DSLR 5300. Bird Cages in the Udaipur Palace, Rajasthan, India.

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