Wedding Woes

Extroverted introvert is a thing.

Dear Prudence,

I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder a few years ago, after a lengthy battle with my mental health. When the pandemic hit and I started working from home, I finally had the time and energy to start managing my diagnosis. I’ve been in therapy, changed my doctor and my medications, and adopted various mindfulness techniques, and I now feel stable most of the time. My issue is trying to accept the “new me.” I used to experience long periods of depression followed by short, hyper-anxious and distressing manic episodes, but in between those two states I often felt great, on top of the world, even. People gravitated toward me, and I felt like the center of attention, just sailing through life. I’m sure I sometimes annoyed people in that mode, but I was so confident and self-assured that nothing could bother me. Before therapy, I considered this “the real me.” So did my friends. After a lot of exploration with my therapist, I now realize this was an extension of my mania. Thinking about the times I felt untouchable, I was actually engaging in really chaotic and risky behavior. I was impulsive and filterless.

It’s obvious to me now that this “real me” wasn’t me at all, it was a symptom of my illness. Now that I’ve settled into something more stable, I’m so worried I’m not fun anymore. Whenever my friends and family talk about me, they say I’m extroverted, loud, and vivacious, but I’ve discovered I’m actually an introvert at heart. I still enjoy socializing, but my “big personality” rarely appears now unless I have an episode. I’m happier now than I’ve ever been, but I’m worried that once the lockdown is lifted, people will be bored by the healthy version of me. How do I become comfortable with myself after feeling like I was someone else for so long? And how do I explain how different I am to my friends and family?

—Not Always “Fun”

Re: Extroverted introvert is a thing.

  • edited April 1
    Sounds like you have a great therapist LW, seems like this is something they can help you with too. 

    But also you don’t need to explain this to anyone if you don’t want to. If someone asks you can say “I’ve been working on some personal things recently and find I’m really happy where I’m at”. You don’t need to disclose anything you don’t want to. 
  • levioosalevioosa Southern California member
    Seventh Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    My bff’s mom is bipolar. She can be the life of the party. Growing up she was “the fun mom” before we got old enough to see the issues it caused. Then any upswing was met with trepidation because we knew at any moment it could go south. She constantly vacillated between life of the party, then anger, then severe depression. It is a relief when she is on her medication, because she is so much happier and at peace. I’m so happy when she is confident and happy. True friends and loved ones won’t question why LW “is no longer fun.” They’ll see that LW is in a better, healthier place. If there are people who are questioning why LW isn’t “fun” any more, or why she “won’t let loose,” then those are not people LW should continue to have in her life. 

  • Not bipolar, but I have often described myself as an 'extroverted introvert' - I enjoy socializing and with certain people I am very extroverted.
    But then my battery drains and I'm introverted and everything gets "too peoply"
  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    It's a misconception that introverts don't enjoy social interaction and can't be the life of the party. Introverts need alone time to recharge their batteries, but a lot of introverts enjoy "spending" that energy in social situations. H is like this. He loves being social and around people, but he doesn't feed off of it. He's an introvert who likes being social.

    LW, I think you're underestimating your friends here. Some may have been attracted to your mania, but they stuck around because they love you for more than just that. They'll likely be delighted to spend more time with the evened out version of you who isn't as reckless. 
  • MesmrEweMesmrEwe member
    Knottie Warrior 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Not bipolar, but I have often described myself as an 'extroverted introvert' - I enjoy socializing and with certain people I am very extroverted.
    But then my battery drains and I'm introverted and everything gets "too peoply"
    Being in the entertainment industry - I can safely say this is the bulk majority of the people I know!  They'll be the life of the show, but live for the solitude of the road.  It's an interesting dichotomy - Some people in the industry to people looking in are the most confident people one can imagine, the type that people want "to be just like ..." but you get to know them off stage, and totally one of the reasons for the saying "Never meet your heroes!"..  Clowns are notorious for this and a full metaphor of who they are with makeup on and who they are out.  

    LW though - I honestly don't think they've really realized that they don't have to be the one or the other and that they can live a peaceful existence with that which makes LW - LW which doesn't mean totally abandoning being the life of the party from time to time AND taking that time to recharge and balance but now in a healthy way that recognizes the need for the balance and advocating as much.  The therapist should be helping with not entirely abandoning the life of being surrounded by wonderful friends that enrich LW's life to live a solitary lifestyle instead.  The two don't have to be exclusive of each other!
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