I was never an introvert before my sarcoidosis diagnosis. I was always out there, putting myself in challenging situations, drawing strength from the people around me. I was a socializer. I was a doer. I was affable. I once fed off the energy of others like food for my soul.
Since my diagnosis, I find myself much more introverted. A true introvert probably would not see me as a member of his club but still, I feel more reserved. I am more comfortable now in the background than I am in the thick of it. I no longer draw strength from the energy of others. In fact, sometimes it just wears me out.
There has been a shift. I am not as adventurous as I used to be. My body has become more unpredictable, so I find myself pulling back. Where I once said “yes” to everything, now I have to really think about it. Is this something I think I can really handle doing? Will it tax my body too much in the long run? Will I embarrass myself with my ridiculous brain fog? Will I have time to rest during or after the event?
It’s funny what you take for granted when you don’t have to measure these things. People who are physically well and still strong, they don’t understand the hesitation. I get that and it doesn’t make me angry because I used to be that way too. You just cannot imagine the implications of a broken body until it happen to you.
I’m not shy, like a traditional introvert. I can still push myself into being quite gregarious in necessary situations and when I do, I enjoy it. It just wears me out now in ways it didn’t before my disease. My energy level has become a precious commodity. At first, all of this bothered me a great deal. I felt like it was another loss but over time, I have come to accept it.
I appreciate my down time. I know that I need it. I am grateful for it because it means that I don’t have to push all the time now. I can pick and choose when to force myself to be more outgoing and when I can hang back and rest.
In my own odd way, I am an extroverted introvert. I am not a typical loner and I would rather not keep to myself. I just know that I have to sometimes. My body and sometimes my mind gives me no choice. Oddly though, I am okay with this. I have learned to accept it. Life with this disease requires an ability to make a lot of adjustments. This is just one of them.