Having an autoimmune disease like rheumatoid arthritis requires a person to constantly question what is going on in their life. Well, more so if you are an introvert. As an introvert, I have a constant conversation going on in my head about how I feel, why I feel the way I do that day, and whether or not there is something else I could be doing. I have grown to understand this about myself, but sometimes feel sad for those that care deeply for me because I know they don’t quite get this about me.
When I took an Introvert or Extrovert quiz on Quiet Revolution, a website for introverts and those who want to better understand us, I obviously scored as an introvert. One of the characteristics was “When you’re in overly stimulating environments (too loud, too crowded, etc) you tend to feel overwhelmed.” Pain is a stimulant for me, a noise in my head taking over my body and overwhelming me. I find it easier to not share my challenging days with those close to me because I know I don’t have room in my head to think about their caring thoughts. It is just too much noise at the time trying to compete with the pain. When the pain starts to dissipate, I find it easier to share because some of the noise is gone. Another reason I hesitate to share my pain at the time is that as an introvert I tend to absorb the feelings of others and to be a good listener. So, while people want to be there for me, they almost always need to share their own experiences or struggles going on at the time. To me this is another stimulant that I don’t have the energy for at the time. I know it hurts feelings when people find out after the fact that I was in a lot of pain, but when hurting, I only have the energy for one person: ME. I am not going to lie, it is an ongoing battle to shut people out of my life while I deal with my own reaction to the pain, but the better I understand my own needs, the easier it becomes. And just so you know, I am never really alone during a flare. I always have that introvert part of my brain talking me through it. Please be patient with me and know that I appreciate you being there for me when I am ready to share.