“Fact Or Fiction: Myers-Briggs Type Indicator”
During our first week of school we were asked to complete a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality test. The administration explained to 200 eager type A’s, all seemingly vying for the front row, that “this would help us understand ourselves so that we could more appropriately deal with other people.” I suppose the intention was to teach us to play nice with people we did not get along with (Was this meant for getting along with each other or patients was never adequately answered in my opinion). Anyways that all seemed a bit fishy to me, I suspect they wanted to learn about the errrr wonderful (?) personalities that constitute a med school class. Later I learned that this psychology tool is pretty well established/recognized. For me it is as good an intro as any to some of my thoughts this morning.
In the MBTI test you are asked several questions across 4 domains and responses enter an algorithm used to classify you as introverted (I)/extroverted (E), intuitive (N)/sensing (S), thinking (T)/feeling (F), and judging (J)/perceiving (P). Your responses are scored on an ordinal scale (the data is ranked from very clearly introverted to slightly introverted for example) so that you are given a 4 letter personality type along with how much you gravitate toward a particular tendency (See now I’m working on explaining things to others!). I thought this was nonsense when I first heard about it, and it is not without issues, but when I read my results it was all eerily familiar.
I got INTJ….introverted, intuitive, thinking and judging (apparently this represents like 1-2% of the population and is virtually non-existent in women). I’d bet the majority of people regress to the mean having moderate values on each of the 4 scales, however mine were quite high suggesting (to me at least) a more meaningful test (introversion and thinking were my highest marks approaching the highest possible rank). If you score toward the middle in each domain then your scores are more likely to flip around depending on whether the stars aligned for you that day (my dumb way of saying your mood). There are serious Myers Briggs devotees out there (maybe some of you all are) and I honestly don’t have enough knowledge about it for thorough discussion. So see the picture below and go do some reading about it- it is fun and interesting if nothing else. Interestingly, my brother is and INFJ, another very rare MBTI personality.
Why bring that information up? Well the more I brainstorm content for this site, the stronger my desire to shift our conversation (which has been particularly one way talk thus far-PLEASE COMMENT TOPICS/QUESTIONS!) away from sharing my experiences toward the depersonalized world of science and clinical trials in Crohn’s disease. If I am going to be giving this whole experience an honest shot I am going to have to actively resist my strong tendency of drawing inward and not saying anything. I don’t really know how personalities or tendencies like this are formed, but I imagine mine is the result of (or has something to do with) years spent hiding my disease from everyone, something I now deeply regret. The indelible impression I got from hiding these struggles during formative teenage years taught me to look inward for consolation. A difficult lesson I’ve learned as I have matured some is that this isn’t easy for the people in your life who love/support you. I had no idea the degree of anguish my mother feels when I’m sick with Crohn’s (she felt/feels guilty as a bad parent-a totally ridiculous feeling on her end but something I feel responsible for). Perhaps this introversion and poor understanding is why my doctors and loved ones have been pushing me to start/develop this blog…so that I could be more at peace with where I am in life in spite of Crohn’s, and so that they could learn about me/the way I approach this disease everyday. Make sure to be open and talk with your loved one’s because let me tell you they’re the ones who will be there when you need it most.
I think I’ve been able to accomplish more in my life as of yet than many expected (so a lesson for friends/family of a patient with CD…NEVER COUNT US OUT as WE ARE RESILIENT PEOPLE!!!). I feel fortunate and humbled by the talents I was born with and the family I was born into. However at times, even when Crohn’s may be in check, I feel isolated from others and I perceive myself as a financial/emotional burden. I ‘revert’ back to this in a sense because my parents have worked hard to assure me that I am not a burden on them. I tend not to believe them, but do/have you felt like burdens on your family or loved ones?
If you asked my family they would ridicule me for even thinking like this, but for me its like my first thought: I’m always the one saying I’m sick, always running to the bathroom at inconvenient times, always commanding mom’s attention, always needing special/expensive foods, always getting frustrated when people rush you in the bathroom, always feeling discomfort and always cranky at night because all my energy has gone to getting through the day. I have told my parents this a few times and they assure me that they would do anything for their kids (which I guarantee you they would, and I hope yours would too) but I feel like IT IS/WAS STILL DIFFICULT FOR ME NOT TO FEEL THIS SENTIMENT.
My relationship with understanding/coming to grips with my diagnosis has been a difficult process-as you can see I am still coming to grips with it. And I say process because I think it varies over time. The concerns I had when I was first diagnosed differ from those I feel now and will differ in 10 years again. Its as if as our position, age or whatever shift in life as does our relationship with the disease and we need to re orient ourselves in relation to the diagnosis. This I hope is encouraging to some of you, you will come to grips with it (you may not understand it) but you will come to accept it and be proud of who you are.
Before coming to college I spent 4 years performing research on liver stuff. The ‘liver docs’ (hepatologists) I worked and became friends with ARE ALL GASTROENTEROLOGISTS. I can’t get away from these people (but I may become one someday so its okay). We constantly were reading medical literature and discussing GI and liver diseases but curiously DURING THIS TIME I NEVER ONCE READ A JOURNAL ARTICLE ON CROHN’S. I have difficulty articulating why, but I just wasn’t interested. Believe it or not, the first full research article I read on Crohns disease was the other day before posting about smoking in CD. I have a really hard time forcing myself to read the literature on CD. I find it interesting and all but its just so easy to envision myself being discussed in the article (my position likely will change on this over time as I get more comfortable with this feeling, thats the process I discussed in motion right there!).
This morning’s post was supposed to be about my first successful solo ostomy bag change (complete w/ pictures and all) but I just felt really weird/self conscious about it. Ill try to write that later today or tomorrrow and get that it up asap for you all (THE ILEOSTOMY BAG IS JUST SO HAWT RIGHT NOW). It’s not easy putting all this on the internet so I sincerely hope this helps some people out there who is struggling silently to come to grips with their diagnosis. You are not alone.