Friday, April 19, 2013

How Chronic Pain Made Me An Introvert

My mom used to say "there are two kinds of people in the world: those who are energized by groups of people and those who are drained by groups of people." In other words there are introverts and extroverts. Despite being very shy as a child I always enjoyed large gatherings. Before my migraines got out of control I was actively involved in church, doing theatre, volunteering at fundraisers, working, hosting girl's night...I filled my days with as much activity as possible. It was as if the more I did, the more I could do.

Traits like these simply are. We are born tending to be one or the other. At least that's what I always thought. However, slowly over the past 7 years, chronic pain has turned me into an introvert. Or so it appears. I have had to alter my behavior and my approach to all activity. Large groups are now overwhelming and absolutely exhausting. I can only spend small bits of time with other people (even if only one person) before needing to retreat to the quiet comfort of home. Hosting people at home now just makes me uncomfortable because I can't control the length of time the way I can if I go out. I need my alone time. I need to have large chunks of time when I'm simply not responsible for presenting myself a certain way or worrying about anyone else. Managing my symptoms is very taxing on my time and energy. I simply can no longer manage my old extroverted ways.

The question then becomes, has chronic pain actually turned me into an introvert or does it just appear that way? I don't have the answers. All I know for sure is that I've changed. Chronic pain has changed me. Ultimately, what we call it doesn't matter.

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