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Greetings mates,

In the early 2000s I was diagnosed as bipolar II, which is a more "mild" form of bipolar I disorder (see WebMD for a good primer on this disorder), and in 2008 (I think) is when I took the Myers-Briggs test as a requirement for entry into graduate school and found that I was a "classic" INFP. That result was enormously helpful and went a long way to making me feel more "normal" (whatever that is, right?).

My question to my fellow INFPs is whether any of you have mental illnesses and how these illnesses affect your INFP-ness and vice versa? Essentially, as an INFP, it can be quite difficult for me to tease apart what are bipolar symptoms from what are the expressions of certain aspects of my INFP personality. Does anyone else have this issue?

I'm fairly well-managed with medication for the bipolar symptoms, but certainly not symptom free, and being an INFP I think exacerbates some of my bipolar symptoms. I'm hoping this all makes sense.

Cheers,
M.
 

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I'm surprised this hasn't received a response. With depression and anxiety so prevalent in our society, there are bound to be plenty on the forum that have some sort of psychiatric disorder. I'm interested in reading the replies when they come.
 
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Over the years I've been diagnosed with bi-polar II, general anxiety, depression, and ADHD. Despite this, and taking the recommended medication, it has only been harmful to my self esteem and my health. I've lost faith in the pharmaceutical industry, I've lost faith in psychiatry, and I've lost faith in societal standards of how one should behave/think. I believe that medication might be useful if it were prescribed on the basis of definitive blood work or a brain scan where there's physiological evidence of the illness, rather than a doctor checking off a list of symptoms that you may or may not have.
 

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I'm basically certain if i got evaluated i'd get diagnosed with multiple things including severe depression but since i have no money and would not want to drug myself up anyway, there's no real point. Plus i live in an isolated area. Also i don't trust the man and wouldn't want to get locked away or whatever.
 

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@Acey,

You raise, I think, an important issue, namely misdiagnosis. It is common for one mental illness' symptoms to overlap with the symptoms of another mental illness, which makes specific diagnoses difficult to determine in some cases. As someone who is diagnosed bipolar, I wonder how many of my "symptoms" are simply expressions of my personality as an INFP. For example, the moodiness and volatility that are inherent in INFPs could be interpreted as a mood disorder (i.e., bipolar) or other similar diagnosis. Our restlessness could be interpreted as something akin to ADHD.

You're right to question the credibility of the psychiatric community, but I wouldn't dismiss them outright. They are overwhelmed with cases in most places, and simply -- and ironically -- too busy and uneducated in personality types to perform due diligence in determining what is a personality trait and what is a true medical issue.

Thank you for your post.
 

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I have OCD and comorbid GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) . No mental illness can affect my INFPness, it affects my character and my personality though which are much more than an MBTI type. Being an INFP doesn't exacerbate the symptoms of your disorder, your disorder exacerbrates your character, which MBTI outlines as INFP (however only a mutual piece of it amongst a population of unique individuals).



I'm surprised this hasn't received a response.
There have been other threads that have had the exact same title or purpose.
 

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Over the years I've been diagnosed with bi-polar II, general anxiety, depression, and ADHD. Despite this, and taking the recommended medication, it has only been harmful to my self esteem and my health. I've lost faith in the pharmaceutical industry, I've lost faith in psychiatry, and I've lost faith in societal standards of how one should behave/think. I believe that medication might be useful if it were prescribed on the basis of definitive blood work or a brain scan where there's physiological evidence of the illness, rather than a doctor checking off a list of symptoms that you may or may not have.
I went to a general practitioner and he classified me as having ADHD, Anxiety and Depression.

Turns out I have something completely different. After I visited a psychologist, I actually began to see that my initial perspective was only holding me back, and I'm sorry if that didn't work for you. It doesn't mean it can't work for everyone else. To be honest, to think that there are 'societal standards for the way we behave/think' is actually imaginary, it is a standard you have placed onto yourself through anxiety. Well, unless you live life under a dictator who consistently tells you what to think every second of every day, I think that even dictators don't have that much time on their hands.
 

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I have a quite unhealthy INFP friend. He has a lot of personality disorders (highest ones are narcissistic and avoidant), and was diagnosed with SEVERE depression as well as bipolar. He was taking like 200 or 400mg of Lithium at one point (of course, he is both tall and works out often).

My other INFP friend has Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and has had multiple panic attacks.

Of course, I do know a lot of people with some kind of mental illness.
 

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I was recently diagnosed with Pure-O, or Primarily Obsessional OCD by a psychiatrist. It was pretty moving to realize at 24 that my way of dealing with the world is abnormal, but I came around to understanding that it was making me do things I wouldn't otherwise do, since there was so much rumination involved. This diagnosis and corresponding treatment may point me towards a different personality type in the long run, but how much of your personality can really change when presented with this set of circumstances? I guess I'm not sure.
 

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Was diagnosed in middle school with generalized anxiety disorder, which ultimately led to depression, now at 21 i'm 100% convinced i have OCD. i Believe the root of it all is the OCD, if i have it i've had it my whole life, it causes a great deal of shame and anxiety, which in turn leads to my depression(vicious cycle).
 

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Being an INFP doesn't exacerbate the symptoms of your disorder, your disorder exacerbrates your character, which MBTI outlines as INFP (however only a mutual piece of it amongst a population of unique individuals).
Without knowing what is involved in certain illnesses, I don't think it wise to assume you have the monopoly on absolute truth here. Several things can spur a cycle in persons with bipolar disorder. As an INFP (obviously, this term is pointing out one's personality function preference, not summing up a person's character, which I believe the OP understands as well) one is more prone than many other types to ruminate. By doing so much pondering, or brooding, the emotional effect of different issues magnifies. Emotional stress can trigger a bipolar cycle. The stress and the pondering were not caused by having bipolar disorder; Indeed, everyone has stressors and broods from time to time. However, because an individual has a mood disorder, in this case in particular let's use bipolar disorder, that mood disorder is affected by that individual's personality operating preferences. This is just one example, and there are many other ways personality preferences can impact or exacerbate mental illness.
 

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To be honest, to think that there are 'societal standards for the way we behave/think' is actually imaginary, it is a standard you have placed onto yourself through anxiety.
In truth, there are indeed societal standards for behavior. A person is born into their community. That community has expectations of behavior. You may not be consciously aware of the nuances of this, yet it is impacting you, as it impacts everyone. Do you think an older man marrying a 12 year old is appropriate? There are still cultures/societies that think nothing is amiss and it still happens today. Many others see it as vile and outrageous and the man would be sent to prison. This IS an example of societal standards. People do not choose to believe one way or another, in the aforementioned instance, due to anxiety. There is far more to the concept of societal standards than any we might follow due to insecurity or anxiety on our part, or a wish to conform or "fit in." Without any social standards for behavior, this world would be in absolute chaos. There would be even more horror in this world than there already is. Beating your wife, for example, is socially acceptable behavior in some countries today. Without social standards, it would be allowed and not punishable across all nations.
 

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@brady

Thank you for your post, Brady. I, too, had my world shook when I was diagnosed as bipolar II, so, though I know nothing about Pure-O, I can empathize to some degree with what you are feeling. On the other hand, my diagnosis (and it seems like this is happening to you) helped articulate some of what was going on inside me and why I was behaving in ways that were not only contrary to my personality type but also violated my personal moral code.

For example, as an introvert I would never be the extroverted, talkative, and nearly incoherent person I am when I'm manic (or hypomanic). As an INFP who craves deep (and admittedly sexual) relationships I watched my manic episodes fuel sexual binges and promiscuity that otherwise would have been unappealing to say the least. So, this shows that mental illnesses do affect our personality traits -- if only temporarily. For other posters who would prefer to draw too sharp a division between what are the manifestations of mental illness and what are those of personality err by grossly oversimplify human nature. We are too complex for an "either-or" approach to our physical and psychological makeups.

You might, indeed, notice "personality changes" as you undergo therapy -- both psychiatric therapy and via medication. Understand, however, what medications are designed to do, in part, is to minimize or eliminate symptoms of a disease or disorder so that a person might express their true personality traits/preferences. I think you're on a wonderful, scary, rewarding, dark, brilliant journey, Brady, and I encourage you to run it bravely.

Cheers.
 

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Over the years I've been diagnosed with bi-polar II, general anxiety, depression, and ADHD. Despite this, and taking the recommended medication, it has only been harmful to my self esteem and my health. I've lost faith in the pharmaceutical industry, I've lost faith in psychiatry, and I've lost faith in societal standards of how one should behave/think. I believe that medication might be useful if it were prescribed on the basis of definitive blood work or a brain scan where there's physiological evidence of the illness, rather than a doctor checking off a list of symptoms that you may or may not have.
I know right? I got diagnosed with asperger a couple of years back, just because I found it hard to connect to peers. Otherwise I do not match the profile whatsoever. (I do have empathy, social intuition and creativity, and I adjust to new situations quite easily)

Yaps, it's best not to to assume that psychologists know what they are talking about.
 

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In truth, there are indeed societal standards for behavior. A person is born into their community. That community has expectations of behavior. You may not be consciously aware of the nuances of this, yet it is impacting you, as it impacts everyone. Do you think an older man marrying a 12 year old is appropriate? There are still cultures/societies that think nothing is amiss and it still happens today. Many others see it as vile and outrageous and the man would be sent to prison. This IS an example of societal standards. People do not choose to believe one way or another, in the aforementioned instance, due to anxiety. There is far more to the concept of societal standards than any we might follow due to insecurity or anxiety on our part, or a wish to conform or "fit in." Without any social standards for behavior, this world would be in absolute chaos. There would be even more horror in this world than there already is. Beating your wife, for example, is socially acceptable behavior in some countries today. Without social standards, it would be allowed and not punishable across all nations.
An older man marrying a 12 year old is not a thought process or behavior that is enforced by societal standards, it is an act against cultural codes that have been set up by society itself. Cultural codes do not demand a person to think or behave a certain way, but what not to do or what to do if they want to face the rest of society as a human being.

A man being sent to prison is the law, that is a completely different thing to cultural codes. I know this because the study of law changes from country to country however the appearance of codes and laws tend to stay constant. Law concerns a system, pretty much run by the people and majority opinion in democratic countries - in other words, "societal standards" created by the majority of people.

However, this majority of people cannot enforce a societal standard onto one person's behavior or thinking, neither on the behavior or thinking of another group. That is the group's decision and that is the person's decision to allow it to affect them in that sense (cognitively or behaviorally). Mainly because the collective majority comprised of various individuals set up the societal standards in the first place.

That's why I said before that the 'societal standards for the way we behave or think' are illusions.
 

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@AverOblivious: in a certain sense, I agree with you. Technically, what you are saying is true. The problem, is that the situation is different depending on the person, or in the state in which they are. Noticing what you are saying, and being able to put it into practice needs a lot of personal work.
For example, I developed strong depressions due to episodes of severe stress on my life. In that moments, every pressure directed to me was multiplied, so someone saying to me 'this expectations are only illusions' would be helpful, but it wouln't fix the problem.

Social expectations exist, and people act favoring them in a subtle way. This is easy seen in woman. Tell to a female friend or coworker of yours that there is not a social pressure on girls to be young, slim and attractive, and wait for the response.
There are social and moral codes, but they are only noticed when someone breaks them. For example, not talking is a way of breaking a social standar in occidental societies, which makes life of introverts a bit more difficult sometimes. People who go to a place and don't talk are considered cold, selfish and unfriendly, and people usually try to change them. Note that this doesn't happen to extroverts, who appear as 'normal', in opinion of the same people.

No one is going to hit you with a raquet for breaking a social standar, but there is one thing called 'rejection'. There are scientific studies that prove that is hurts the same or more than physical pain.

Sources: http://www.ucp.pt/site/resources/documents/ICS/GNC/ArtigosGNC/AlexandreCastroCaldas/15_EiJaLiNa06.pdf

Brain Eases the Pain of Social Rejection | Psych Central News

These are academic articles done by scientific research and scientific methods, published in serious magazines. They are from different authors, in different years. There are a lot like them, but I don't want to fill the thread with spam.


It's different to say 'social standars are illusions' when you are ok and everything in your life is fine, than when you are out fighting day after day whit your boss, your bills and everything else to take you life forward. Mental illness often just add more problems to this.



@Noicha: psychiatry and psychology are tough than what is seen form the outside. I think is a good point that you have critical sense, but I think that the best you can do if you have a problem with your therapist, is talk with him, in case you are in treatment.



And for all the people out there that are coping with mental illness, or are having a serious bad moment in their lives- I wish you all the best.
 

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I feel like you don't need to tease things apart too much because your bipolar helps shape your personality. For example, maybe part of why you're so introspective (an INFP characteristic) is that you're used to having to focus on working out intense emotions, which might have helped to shape you into an INFP. I'm not saying that specific example is true for you, but just explaining my theory. You are who you are and 'INFP' is just a label for certain aspects of a person; it doesn't encompass the entirety of an individual. As for mental illness and myself, I've been chronically depressed for at least nine years, and I've definitely got GAD. I've had OCD-like symptoms, which were worse as a child and are almost completely gone now. When I was a teenager, my doctors suspected that I was bipolar, but I knew that I wasn't since I'd definitely never felt "too" uppity. I was just an anxious and depressed mess, and everything that I'd held in over the course of my entire life was finally exploding out of me all at once...yikes...scary times. I do think I may have some kind of unipolar thing going on since my mood stabilizer seems to help my depression a lottt. I'm currently on 5-6 different psych. meds a day to try to balance me out...I've been pumped full of meds pretty steadily since I was 15, but when I cut back on meds it's baddd. If I'm off my mood stabilizer or antidepressant, it is not a pretty sight =\ and when I'm off of my anti-anxiety meds, I'm just super uncomfortable. I'm not really sure what kind of a person needs 5 or 6 medications a day just to relieve depression and anxiety...I don't really know what my deal is, but I'm just glad I've found some hope in life, no matter how fragile it is.
 
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There seems to be something rather sinister going down with people's mental states at the moment. It could be just in the first world, due to the rise of the internet, global, non-personal communications, and many varieties of digital entertainment, but its serious nonetheless. I just hope its an adjustment period that humanity will go through based on the information revolution and how its throwing our usual balance of personal communication of kilter. But I guess, in the back of my mind, I have a fear that the whole japanese 'Hikikomori' (shut in, person who lives almost entirely in their home/room) problem is going to spread dramatically across the first world. Sure, it wont be crippling. But it'll leave a dent in the vitality and enthusiasm that still remains in our societies.

As for INFPs, it is only natural that they get hit with the first wave, we are the most susceptible, according to studies and general reactions to societal problems. Out of all the INFPs I know ( a surprising amount, actually) 100% is slightly messed up in the head in some form. Father, friends, teachers, classmates. I literally dont know a single healthy INFP. Me included. Ive been looking for answers for a while, but I can find no immediate results. Anyone else agree that there maybe a sweeping problem here? Or is it just me getting slightly deluded by the abnormal volume of mildly to heavily depressed people in my life?

All I can say is I hope this passes over soon, and I can find a personal solution, at least.
 
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