As well as being INTJ, I’m also a bit of a type A-personality. I like to do well, be right, do lots, and be the best, or the best I can be. Those two analyses of a personality fit together in a logical sense, but they aren’t necessarily a good fit for living inside a human being, especially one with a congenital disorder.
Accepting the fact that I will never be perfect, or even great or successful in a way that most people understand that term has been very difficult for me, and something I’m only just starting to approach. Most of us have to confront this concept early in our lives, whether its slipping over in the middle of a sporting match and losing your side’s game, getting a lower grade than you’d accepted, or not being quite as ‘good’ at something as you might’ve expected. I had those small moments too, but I also had a big one – being told at 16 that I was genetically defective was a bit of a bigger realisation. And its one that I’ve struggled with.
I’ve always had an active mind, I’ve taken to new concepts, no matter how big with relative ease, along with a vivid imagination and an insatiable thirst for learning. My brain, if I do say so myself, is pretty powerful. Even R acknowledges this – he gladly waits until those moments just before I fall asleep and I’m dopey but still conscious to take cheap pot shots because he knows this is the only time he’ll get them in unchallenged. Even the book I’m currently reading points to that, nuclear physics for fun isn’t something usually associated with humanities nerds. Yet from the age of 14, I had a violent, aggressive and uncontrollable reminder that my body is galaxies away from the vivid activity locked inside my skull.
It became even more apparent when I got to the end of highschool and got a result which wasn’t reflective of what I knew I could achieve. What? My imaginative, powerful, always reliable brain had been brought undone by a quirk in my genetic code? I didn’t even accept it myself at the time, and only really confronted it recently. It probably seems so obvious from the outside, but of course my recently diagnosed, complicated, and (as I’m discovering now) not well understood congenital condition was going to effect my performance at school. If I had the chance to do it again now, I would have asked to sit down with my mum, principal and head of house and take 12 months off from doing my school leavers certificate. Perhaps stop year 11 at my diagnosis and re-do year 10 subjects, maybe at a half-rate so I could take time to rest, recover and take care of my very unwell body. Aside from being a odd-one-out when it comes to VWD type 1 diagnoses and my doctors still discovering that fact, I never really accepted that knowing about my diagnosis came with a responsibility to reframe my life, to accept the limitation and find ways of excelling with it, not is spite of it.
Struggles with accepting imperfection are rearing their head again this year with the further complications I’ve encountered. After my Barrecode challenge, and that major shift in the way I ate, I not only found I had relief from some VWD and other odd symptoms floating around, but I also lost a bit of weight, and significantly flattened out in my mid section. Until, of course, the menstrual bleed dragon reappeared. Abdominal bloating doesn’t really describe what happens to me when I have a period, its more like nothing to 5 months pregnant overnight. And boy do I wish I was exaggerating. That’s why I have such a major change in clothing when I have a period – I just cannot fit into my normal clothes. No one likes abdominal bloating, and I feel really frustrated at it because I know that sometimes, less than a day ago, I felt and looked differently, and that the rotund growth on my front is in fact evidence of something I do my best to forget. That despite my great eating, my sustainable, health and fun exercise routine, and my insistence on getting enough sleep, underneath I’m unwell, and always will be. Not to mention that I think the higher doses of hormones I’m now on seem to be resulting in some round-the-middle weight gain, especially after a period when I’m on multiple drugs. And it takes over a month to settle down again.
This year I have started to undo some of the negative talk I have with myself about being well, being successful. I want to create a life that supports, creates and nurtures the wellness I have. I want to have the flexibility, courage and resources to put being well first, to be able to rest when I need it, exercise when I feel like it, and eat food that I can grow myself (I have started that on a very small scale!). Aside from the massive changes in food I’ve undertaken this year, and my love of barre, a recent addition to my wellness kit has been yoga. Its perfect for A types (and INTJs too I reckon) because it forces you out of a competitive, comparative mindset and body, and forces you to soften, open and relax. The nagging voice in the back of my head that wants peace and quiet (hello, INTJ-ness, I have a severe case of the I I think, because even the insides of my mind want a break from the insides of my mind!) also loves it, because you focus on your movement, breathing and relaxing so much there’s no time for endless waves of thought. My introvert parts love it, because I can be quiet, still, not completely wrapped up in my own thoughts, but I feel energised afterwards, not drained like I do from intense social interaction.
I still struggle from Type-A ness – I hate being stuck at home when I should be enjoying the sun, exercising, or even working to contribute to the house (even just making my own food). I think I’m in a better place now that I recognise my limits, and can accept their existence. Many of the lovely bloggers I follow use affirmations, and that’s a bit to woo-woo for me now, but when I can, I take charge of my internal monologue and replace it with something helpful “its ok, you’re unwell and by resting you’re doing the best thing possible. Your normal is different to others, but that’s ok. Put health first, and you will be ok.”. Its not much, but it can often bring me back from the ledge of pushing myself too hard, committing to one to many things, or eating something for comfort instead of health.