When My Introverted Nature Causes Me to Isolate During Pain Flares


I am an introvert. And because I am an introvert, when I am in pain I react a certain way. I retreat more and more. I get more reclusive. Less talkative. And more stoic. I don’t tend to show my pain through irritation or anger, but the pain will make me frustrated, angry and irritated. No, I am silent, stoic and… retreat. And because of this, when my pain was at its worst and I was struggling to work and function, I retreated and had no energy left for any type of social life. That, really, gets cut first. And as an introvert, at first you don’t even notice it. The isolation of it doesn’t even kick in till quite some time later when it actually becomes a problem. Maybe not at all, because the pain had made me so depressed I didn’t want to be around people at all. I self-isolated. It is in my nature to do so.

 

But like I have always said, pain has a radius and it affects all those around us in some way or another. So I became a hermit. And my spouse did too. He didn’t want to socialize without me. He is likewise an introvert, so that makes sense really. And he would feel guilty when he did. So slowly he became an introvert. And I didn’t notice it at first. It was like it was a mutual choice. But for me it was a choice made by pain, so not a choice at all at the time since the pain wasn’t managed. And my pain was influencing his behavior. It was really unfortunate.

I did notice it once the pain began to be managed. It was like when spring hits and you have cabin fever from a long winter… you have an itch to be out and about. I still have pain, but I had some management of it relative to what I had and some capacity to cope with it. And I became aware of the fact we, as a couple, were hermits in the extreme and that wasn’t good at all. So I made sure we did say yes to social things. And when I couldn’t go I insisted he go himself and it was not an issue. Because I could go the next time.

In the end, I realized my psychologist was right. People do need to socialize. Even introverts. We do not need it as much or for as long a duration. But we do need it nevertheless. It does indeed boost the mood. We are not exactly social butterflies, mind you. But we do get out and about with enough frequency that we are not extreme recluses anymore.

My pain and illness is going to impact my spouse and others. It just will. It is going to impact plans I make, or try to make. It just will. But I will not “no” us out of a life. However, this attitude is brought to you by pain management. Without that, we do cut down to the bare essentials. However, it is possible we can get better pain management and with it some quality of life back. Better is always possible.

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Thinkstock photo via Ryan McVay.

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