Becoming A Mature INFP?—Psychotic Episode, Social Anxiety, God

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I promise I haven’ left my blog again, like last time. Instead, it’s more like something left me. The letter “t” on the keyboard of my laptop, to be precise, which decided to break yesterday, on the very afternoon I came back from work and conjured up some good blog ideas. Since the letter “t” in the world of writing is as crucial as water is to life, this put me in a very tricky situation—the urge to write, but no means to do so—until I realised, smacking myself on the forehead at my own stupidity, that until my keyboard gets fixed (hopefully it is covered by warranty, as I simply cannot afford to buy another $200 laptop), I can just write using my phone instead, even though I don’t like it and I feel it makes my writing quality poor. Which is what I am doing right now.

First up, some life updates, in case you are interested in this little INFP’s life. Well, to be frank, I’m not really little anymore. I started this blog five years ago, when I was just finishing highschool, my love for writing was just starting to blossom, and social anxiety crippled me to the core of my being. I am now in my twenties, and in the space of these five years, much has happened, much has changed. Some of it has been good. Some of it has been bad. And some of them are strange changes, peculiar and colourless as air, that have left me quiet and thoughtful.

Even though I “published” my first book on my blog exactly 9 days ago, something I started working on after I became a Christian (another change), my love for writing, while still effervescent, has been relegated to a hobby instead of a career goal. I love writing, but fiction writing, while I do enjoy reading it immensely, is not my field of talent (and arguably, I don’t have any talents, but I’m trying not to play into my low self-esteem these days). I wrote a book, that people liked, but I did not completely enjoy writing it, nor did I feel the need to repeat the process anytime soon. It’s strange. I have changed.

Yes. I have changed. No longer am I completely the shy, floundering INFP girl who desired only to subsist on stardust and dreams, and believed, with all her heart, that being able to write for a living was the single and only path to happiness and well-being in this world. Part of it has been the realisation of the limitations of my writing talents. And part of me, surprising as it is to say, even to myself, is that I have grown out of fiction writing, and matured into an adult who much prefers writing “self-help”; or non-fiction works.

I am also not shy anymore. Well, not completely shy—in fact, I have been working for the past week or so at a pharmacy, believe it or not, a job which entails greeting customers, speaking to people and stocking shelves from morning to afternoon while I wait for my other courses to start. I had to do it. I forced myself to do it. No, I am not an INFP who sold her soul for money, or who now worships capitalism in all its environmentally-damaging glory, but someone who grew up and realised she would have to find a way to feed herself in this world, keep the fridge stocked and a roof over her head, or risk not only homelessness, but her sanity and buoyancy.

And what I discovered was this: no matter how exhausted I am at the end of the workday, after so much time spent engaged in social interaction, and how I wish I could return to the days of daydream and wishes of my teenage years, some part of me—and likely a very INFP part of me that is starting to mature—actually feels a sense of satisfaction from finally being able to function in the real world. But, let’s backtrack for a moment. Just a year or two ago, I wanted to live in a car and write books, or even risk homelessness so I wouldn’t have to join the pointless drudgery of the capitalist workforce, and stuttered and could barely speak in front of strangers, so, what changed?

Two things. One: I experienced a psychotic episode, that was highly traumatic and bizarre. Two: I started to believe in God. And those two things, by the way, are not related in the slightest–people who believe in God, I assure you, seeing as there are millions of them around the world, are perfectly sane (well, most of them are, at least).

A psychotic episode? Why, whatever happened? I went a little crazy, that’s what, perhaps because of a chemical imbalance in my brain, as my psychiatrist put it. I didn’t speak of this when I first returned to my blog because I still wasn’t sure how I was going to talk about it. Basically, what happened was—and why it happened is still a complete mystery to me—I started to believe, over the course of several days, that I was an Angel, on a mission on behalf of planet Earth, along with fifty or so other individuals on the planet, to save the environment. No, I’m not speaking in metaphorical terms. For the duration of a week, this was my reality—I believed in it as much as I believed in the power of words—and I actually thought I heard the voice of planet Earth speaking to me inside my mind, telling me what to do to save the world.

Yes. I wouldn’t mind if you stopped reading my posts, or unsubscribed from me after this, because it does actually sound crazy, and this episode was severe enough to land me in hospital for a couple of days, and start taking medication for delusions. I’m off the medication now. I am, I assure you, completely sane. What happened during those weeks felt entirely like a dream. And apparently, it’s not that uncommon among young adults, particularly those who have suffered from depression or anxiety.

But after that happened, I grew up. I don’t know why, but much of my agoraphobia and social anxiety faded away after that. Unfortunately, other things faded away too, not completely, but enough to be noticeable: my passion for fiction writing, a little of my blind idealism. It was as if, in a burst of colour like rainbow, my imagination spent itself in one go after the episode, leaving me feeling horribly empty, yet also strangely lighter.

After that, I discovered God, felt His presence in the world around me, in nature—in the curious, peaceful feeling I get whenever I pray—became a Christian, rolled up my sleeves and sallied forth into the world with a feeling that there was someone out there watching over us all, even the most delicate and anxious. Five years from now, instead of an author, I want to be working as a nurse, preferably in a mental health hospital, dispensing medications and helping people overcome themselves and their own minds with my words and my heart.

Am I still an INFP? Yes. Everyday, out in the real world, I have to put on a mask, and I’ve become remarkably competent at it. INFPs do have quite a bit of acting skills up their sleeves, often honed out of necessity, and while I am not perfect at pretending to be tough-skinned like everyone else, I am passable. I need to be, in order to survive in this world. Do I want to starve, or become homeless? No. For an INFP to mature in this world, they do, unfortunately, have to change a little, or at the very least adapt. Even quiet artistic jobs like being an author or an artist have a remarkable amount of social activities tagged onto it.

I will never stop writing, and never stop daydreaming. However, I have discovered other things I like. Caring not just for animals, but people, most of whom are very nice. I like stacking shelves. I like using the cash register. I like all the different pills and medicines out there, and the diseases or conditions they correspond to. I like hospitals—they have a curiously calming effect on me. And so far, I like the idea of being a nurse. Out in the real world, given time, I know I will be able to stand on my own two feet.

But behind closed doors, when the mask falls away, I am just the same as I ever was. I still liking drinking fruit juices and eating Haribo fizzy cola gummy sweets. I still like books, very much, and films, especially romantic ones. I am still a loner, still transfixed by the beauty of the world, the universe, still someone who picks up a pen or logs onto her laptop (or in this case phone) and spills out her thoughts in a stream of flowing words. And at my core, after all the growing up I’ve done, all the steps I’m starting to take to ensure I won’t starve or be homeless, and will spend my days doing some good in the world, I am deeply disappointed with life, and deeply afraid that this is all it has to offer—a job, hobbies, a house, cars, holidays, cats, books.

Because after everything I’ve been through, I still want more, and one of the reasons I became a Christian is because God represents that “more” that I am lacking in the real, boring mundane world, and which I believe I will never be able to attain. Few people understand me when I say this, or try to comfort me, but I am at a point in my life where I honestly do not believe I will ever experience that “whirlwind” romance I’ve always dreamed about. In fact, I cannot, no matter how hard I try, even imagine a man being interested in me, which is one my deepest, darkest fears and wounds. I cannot imagine having a family, children, a husband, and even if I did, what then? Everything becomes ordinary and normal-feeling eventually; even the most beautiful song can become annoying after listening to it on repeat for months on end. I find no happiness in material goods, and to me, holidays are just explorations of other parts of the world, with the same sky, the same rocks, houses, society, paths, animals, grass, trees and concrete, that eventually become nothing more than photographs and faded memories.

The truth is, what I want is not just hard to attain—it is impossible. What I truly want, as an INFP, is for fantasy to become reality. I want for there to be floating islands, celestial spirits, rocks that hum and murmur with secret forces, skies that suddenly turn purple, to grow wings, to be pressed between the pages of a book as a character in a whirlwind romance or a fantasy quest for all eternity. While I have grown up, and adapted, and even grown to like some parts of the real world, and have always lived many parts of the natural world—aren’t blood and flowers fascinating?—but some part of me, as an INFP, deep down, will always stay the same, like a tiny iridescent pearl tucked inside a shell, quietly wistful, quietly disappointed, burning with a slow, strange and awful sadness.

Tomorrow, I will put on a smile, laugh and talk, and stack shelves. I will inspect the different medicines, ointments and creams, and find their uses to be fascinating. I will eat some of my favourite foods, which I can now afford to buy occasionally, watch films, read books, write and listen to music. I will be fine. I will feel satisfied. Competent. Maybe even happy. But at night, when the lights are turned off, and I’m lying by myself in bed in the darkness, thinking and wondering, as always, the only way for me to cope with reality is to daydream or fall asleep. And I’m starting to think that is the way it will always be, until the day I am no longer in this world, because I wish for true magic and the impossible, for fairies and stardust, and always will.

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