Sunday, June 15, 2014

the sensitive introvert

I debated a lot whether to write this post or not. But I feel that I always wanted to have a voice for my fellow introverts out there in the hopes we do not feel like such outcasts in an extrovert world.

As an introvert, I am well aware of my needs to be alone, to day dream, to be able to gather my thoughts and feelings, to be. As someone who also is a highly sensitive person, I also know that certain life events, and sometimes just life itself, affects me differently than it does other people.

Add to all these very charming personality traits modern life and pressures and it can sometimes spell disaster.

I have spoken in this blog before about my struggle with depression (after my parents' separation) and anxiety (just because). I was on medication for both in addition to talk therapy. Now first things first, I am not a medical doctor nor a licensed therapist. Some decisions should always be made between a person's medical doctor and the person itself. But medication did not help me. It only managed to make my hair fall out significantly.

I knew someone who used to tell me the human brain was not equipped to deal with the perks of modern life and until I read "The Depression Cure" which talks in depth about the fallacies of pharmaceuticals in treating depression, I used to be a bit skeptical about this statement.

However, lately, although this is by no means a reliable scientific study, most people I have talked to about the subject seem to feel overwhelmed about life and work. Most feel the pressure to manage personal and professional life, and the stress to achieve what we see as success.

Recently, at least 4 people I know have been battling chronic depression. All of these people are highly successful, are in the 2 percentile of income earners, and otherwise have a seemingly normal family life. No more no less stressful than the rest of us. But they are unhappy and miserable.

I find the pangs of modern life to be even more pressing on the likes of me. The sensitive introvert. Bad pessimistic news seem to travel faster than the goods news do on the internet. 24 hr access through phone and emails trample over the personal time we so much need for ourselves. The separation between public and private becomes slimmer.

Because I understand we might be more susceptible to modern life's quirks, I wonder what we can do in order to safeguard what makes us so special without having to compromise our health and principles.  What kind of changes or decisions did you have to make or take in order to preserve your mental, physical and spiritual health?


jinxxxygirl said...

I don't try to fit in anymore. I'm different and i know it and everyone who knows me knows it. That right there takes a HUGE weight off. I'am not socially outgoing or very talkative. If i have something to add to the conversation i will otherwise i'm the best listener you will ever find. :)

I say this but it can still be a lonely life. Very few people i have met are understanding about my 'me time' that i need to recharge. Mostly i'm labeled strange, weird, unfriendly.....sigh.. All that aside i'am in a much better place mentally when allow myself to be ME.......... Hugs! deb

Cloudia said...

Thank you for a well written, concise intro to being the sort of person that I am too.

The work of Elaine Aaron PhD on Sensitive people helped me to understand and value myself.
A violin is a failure if you try to use it as a baseball bat.

Valuing my solitude, saying "No" politely to stressors and stressers, building a manageable life. . . . living in the moment, taking in beauty like your wonderful mandalas shared here. <3

ALOHA from Honolulu
=^..^= <3

Japolina said...

I have no advice. Just remember that everyone is dealing with something. No one's life if perfect.

I think that social media might lead to more depression and social anxiety. Everyone seems to be having the best time (It is not generally true!)

Never give up trying to be content and happy! xoxo

Terra said...

I am a sensitive introvert too, though not everyone knows that, since I manage to have fun times. I care a lot about other people's problems so sometimes social media (Facebook) is almost too much since many people there ask for prayer and share serious problems. I like to read the happy news there, and give encouragement to those in need. I rely on Jesus and church as my rock of strength.

the only daughter said...

I do everything possible to minimize contact and interaction with the general public, especially with regard to other public transpo commuters. Beyond that, take advantage of quiet times whenever, wherever possible.

Sherri B. said...

It's as if you wrote the words directly from my an introvert and HSP, I know exactly what you write about. Anxiety has become an epidemic. I've had to turn off the radio and TV to shut out all the depressing news. I try to listen only to music, and I've started trying to meditate each day. Technology has ruined everyone's's 24/7 static, like junk food for the brain. I'm so glad you shared your thoughts...and your beautiful paintings. xo

Optimistic Existentialist said...

I do think modern life (the speed of it, the immediacy of everything, and way we measure "success" definitely leads to higher incidences of depression. Do you ever spend time in nature? Like nature walks and such? I have read that it is proven to increase endorphins in the brain. Definitely helps me :)

Magic Love Crow said...

I have to be true to me! I have to smile ;o) I have to dance ;o) I have to meditate. I have to play in the garden. i also protect myself with my stones. I smudge. I circle myself with a bright white light.
I love your paintings and your puppy made me smile!
Big Hugs ;o)

Melissa said...

The stresses of modern life - well, I know of what you speak. The pressures of always being online and available make one always on edge I think. At least that was for me. If your job requires it (like you are on call) then maybe you need to find another job. If it's more like an unwritten expectation, then something needs to be negotiated with your manager.

As to the depression, I will offer something I heard from a work friend I hadn't seen for a couple of years. She had changed her way of eating (no carbs/sugar) and she had lost a lot of weight. Not only that but she said her anxiety and mood swings have disappeared with this new way of eating "clean" and she hasn't needed her meds for awhile. Some food for thought, no pun intended.

Love your artwork there! That's something I'd like to try. And that pic of your sweet pup is so cute!

Almost Precious said...

Times have changed. With all our high tech gadgets, computers, smart phones, IPhones, Tablets etc. etc. we've become glued to screens and monitors. With all the social media going on, such as twitter and facebook, we read about what others are doing and we see their posts have garnered 123 likes and 68 replies - in all it can make one feel inadequate, subpar.
I think the best thing I've done is to disconnect from a lot of these distractions, to give myself my own time and concentrate on what I need to do and what I want to do. I've discovered that I do not "need" to spend hours and hours on facebook because so much of it was wasted time, I realized that I got a lot more out of a simple walk in the park. To see a crystal blue sky, the breeze on my face, to smell the fragrance of jasmine or hear the song of a bird . . . these simple pleasures made me feel more alive and happy than a ton of "likes" on facebook. :)

Almost Precious said...

Ana - I forgot to mention how much I appreciate your beautiful paintings, the blue flower-like one is absolutely stunning, I love it. :)

Annette said...

Hi mydear, so glad to see your are appear and the sweet fur baby. Just be yourself is what I always do, I am me and no one else can be me. Just one on my sayings I tell myself. Looks like you are you and what a treat you are to us al. xoox

Plowing Through Life (Martha) said...

What a great post, Ana. I can really relate to all this because I'm also a sensitive introvert. Modern life with all its technology and fast pace tires me. I find my balance not only by spending time alone, but also by spending it in natural settings. I'm especially drawn to water, which re-energizes me. I feel calm when I'm near it, and close to Mother Earth. Sometimes, the simple act of walking barefoot in my backyard, and feeling the cool grass beneath my feet does wonders for my soul. Walking on a sandy beach, or taking off my shoes and dipping my feet in the water is just as wonderful.

Kristin_Texas said...

As someone else said, I don't really try to fit in anymore. I try to be sociable, but ONLY when I have to be. Still... I'm pretty good at "faking" it in public, although I don't make a habit of it. Lol!

I'm an introvert... a homebody even. I am who I am.

Jeanie said...

I was lucky to be able to do what a lot of people can't. After two or three years of sitting in my car in the parking ramp sobbing before I went into the office, after being sick to the point of getting shingles and seriously stressed (not to mention physically sick and frighteningly so), exhausted and yet wanting to sleep -- I retired. I was old enough, financially solvent enough and since I have, I've only been sick twice -- with things EVERYONE gets, not just me. Fewer meds, better health, days filled with joy. Coincidence? I think not. (And I love your painting/image!)

CraveCute said...

Sometimes you just need to unplug and go for a walk, or listen to music or just day dream.

Riot Kitty said...

Well, personally I have to have medication, or I am so depressed that I can't get out of bed. But I have seen situational depression as well. Stress definitely takes a toll.

It took me a long time to realize that 1. I am an introvert and 2. it's OK to be an introvert.

Thanks for this.

Jacquelineand.... said...

Looking at your artwork helps. Seriously, feasting on beauty helps maintain my sanity; music helps me step back a pace and re-focus.
We gave up our television years ago, and that provided immediate relief... social media is my way of maintaining contact with family and friends, but I never hesitate to step away from it if I need to. And if all that doesn't work? A long soak with a good book nearly always does the trick.

Rosemoo said...

I think there are a lot of good points here already. For me, changing jobs helped a lot. I was in a bad situation with work, essentially mimicking a bad childhood dynamic. Seeing that and breaking free of that helped a lot. Also having a new job that has no 'take homes'. I don't stress about my simplistic job when I get home. It's easy, and not very challenging, but I really have to say that the trade off of peace of mind is worth it. I don't mind having a non artistic job, because I do my art at home.

I also advocate all the pleas to get out into nature, make sure to 'turn off'. I quit facebook years ago and honestly I don't miss it. It was overloading me. Might be worth some 'non internet' time, though of course as introverts I think it makes sense to seek out other introverts through the safety of the internet.

Balancing is hard. I have a favorite book recommendation for you. It's an interpretation of the Tao Te Ching by Ursula Le Guin. Totally worth it, and a nice non-masculine interpretation. :D

Hugs! Love the photos.


Kyra Wilson said...

I struggle with depression and anxiety as well, and I am an introvert. I hide out in my home, and work in my studio (thank goodness that's my job! I went insane in an office setting, I was so miserable.) I need to live close enough to where people are so I can go out and be a part of things now and then, but far enough away so I can have my space and my own little world.

I admit, I have a really hard time with the world at large. I have found it to be full of miserable and mean people who will actively try to hurt you over ever trying to get to know you - so I stay away. I tell myself the world is better off without me in it, and I keep to myself. I know that's no solution, but it's the only safeguard I have found. (although, to be fair, we're moving this year - hopefully - and my hope is that we'll move to a place where people are nicer. They're known for being mean up here. Maybe my world view will change a little bit? I can hope!)

Just me said...

Well said. I am also an introvert but I had a drama teacher in high school who helped me feel comfortable being myself in the "Big" world.

This year I read two books that have helped me stand in my introversion with pride and head held high. Quiet: The Power of Introverts - By Susan Cain is incredibly empowering. Do You Quantum Think by Dianne Collins reminded me of tools we possess draw from when the world tries to invade my space.

I love your blog and will return often.

Caffeine Girl said...

So often, your posts touch my heart. I agree that modern life is difficult for everyone, that the demands are growing out of control.

I don't know what the answer is. Like many of the previous commentors, I find being outdoors to be incredibly helpful. My husband and I are hoping to downsize in the next few years so that we can retire earlier than we'd planned. We just don't see another way to sanity.

Scarlet said...

Well, I don't believe I am an introvert but I do like my alone time and to be apart from all the chaos in order to refuel. I need this more and more these days as I sense a lot of bad energy in people I can't easily remove from my life.

Having said that, in order to preserve my health, I have moments where I shut off my phone, computer and all availability and either create art, exercise, take a walk, breathing in the fresh air and REALLY noticing nature, or I watch classic movies. In the car I'll listen to music that inspires me. I'm always so curious, always wanting to learn and grow, and I know this helps me as well.

Francie M said...

If you can hang in there eventually you will become more extroverted. And it can be a terrible shock o your system when you find yourself being a 'mature' outspoken woman!

LAUGH AN said...

I definetly have to "forget technologies" to care about people!
I have to care about my relationship with god by reading the bible and to apply it dayly!
Then I have to accept that all isn't like I want in my life a d check what is good and enjoyable in my situation!

Finally get peace of mind to be back at the battle field when life will be worse than now!


I am not introvert but sensitive!

Palomasea said...

Me too, dear Ana....intro as well as HSP.
I try to keep news to a minimum...sad films and books.....can't do it.
Nature, art, beauty...all so helpful in balancing things.
Indeed, most of the world does not I just try to keep my circle small with those who do.
I adore your darling fur baby .... now if those aren't the eyes of a sensitive soul... :)
Your art always inspires me....this technique is wonderful...color first, design it.

Keep inspiring, sweet friend...
Much love,
- Irina

Sketchbook Wandering said...

Very special post. Yes, I'm one of those sensitives, thoough I need balance between inner & outer...
I think my art is important to help me process stimulation in my world...
Your art is very beautiful...