Tough Love, ADD, and Depression

Thursday, January 28, 2016 1 Comments A+ a-

Morning, everyone. I'm tucked away in a corner of my favorite coffeehouse, sipping cinnamon-orange tea and typing in my fingerless gloves. Feeling a little emotionally raw this week due to some family drama. Basically, a tough-love issue. I thought I was on the downhill slope of it a few months ago, but it reared its complicated head again over the weekend. I had to make a really hard decision that--either way I chose--was going to be difficult to live with. It was the right thing to do, but still...really, really hard. :(

Ever been there? It's not easy for anyone, and I think INFJs have an extremely difficult time doing things that they know will let other people down...even if they have to be done. As thick as I've built up my skin over the years, it still hurts to disappoint others. I had to withdraw for a day or two and step back from my normal routine. Lick my wounds, so to speak. I've found that if I don't give myself recovery time from emotional trauma, I start sliding down into the bleak, desolate land of depression. Not a place I enjoy spending time in.

Which brings me to today's topic. I received an e-mail a few days ago, asking if I knew how common it is for INFJs to be clinically diagnosed with depression and/or ADD/ADHD. I've never done any research on either of these and how they relate to INFJs, but I answered honestly from my own experience:

You know, you’ve brought up something that really hits home. As a child, I was high-strung and fractured in my thinking. Not that I couldn’t focus when I wanted to…I had great powers of concentration, but ideas just seem to come at me constantly. I couldn’t even keep up with them. I also fed off other people’s emotions and could go from one emotional state to another rapidly. I know my parents were concerned about it, and today’s medical doctors would probably have pumped me full of Ritalin. But I don’t think I was ADD or ADHD…I think I just had an overactive brain and a powerful imagination. Is there a difference, lol? I don’t know. I still feel very distracted at times, and I have to wonder if that’s just part of being an INFJ. 
I do think that INFJs are prone to depression. I’ve never been clinically diagnosed with it, but I’ve battled feelings of depression my whole life, along with anxiety and the overwhelming sense that I don’t belong. There are probably a lot of reasons INFJs feel this way (we overthink, we’re easily stressed, etc.), and now that you’ve brought it up, I think I’m going to write a blog post about it next week. Maybe a series of them. I posted an image about depression on the Fan Page a few weeks ago, and it got a lot of attention. So I think it’s something we INFJs relate to and need to be aware of. 
You are most definitely not alone. Everything you put in your message, I can relate to. Most INFJs would probably say the same. We’re the rarest type, and society doesn’t cater to minorities…it structures itself around catering to the greater good, and we get left out. A LOT. The world doesn’t do well with things it doesn’t understand (like us). So I think everything you’re feeling is very normal for our type.

Does anyone relate to the ADD/ADHD issue? The INFJ does have an extremely active brain. We constantly toss ideas around, make connections, and calculate future possibilities. I can see where, at extreme levels, it might actually mimic an attention deficit disorder. If you Google "INFJ and ADD" you'll find quite a few threads on this. Some people believe that being an INFJ automatically means that we experience attention deficit on some level.

Is this true? I can't answer that. In my research, I've never come across a study correlating INFJs with an attention deficit disorder. I can tell you honestly that my thought process is so active at times that I feel overwhelmed, and I combat this by writing, making lists, going for walks, meditating/praying, and talking out loud while pacing. That last one might sound weird, but it helps. If I walk alone through my house and talk out the scenarios in my head, I understand them better. There are times when I don't know how I feel about something until I say it out loud.

What's really weird is when I can't remember if I thought it or actually said it, lol...

What about depression? Well, the person e-mailing wanted to know if depression could be caused by the fact that INFJs feel so different from others. I don't know much about clinical depression or its causes...some are related to chemical or hormonal imbalances, I think, and some are because of mental thought processes or conditions. Feeling different from everyone else isn't limited to the INFJ, but it's certainly something that--in my personal opinion--could lead to depressing thoughts.

Last year, I did a Square Peg series on why INFJs might feel different from others. Based on both research and my own experiences, I concluded that yes, the INFJ has many reasons for feeling out of place in society: our functional stack, self-awareness, thinking in patterns, and so on (scroll to the bottom for quick links). They're not things we can control or try to overcome until we have a good understanding of them. I think it's safe to say that the combination of all of them, without the benefit of experience and understanding, can lead to depression.

Looking back, I'd say that most of my own bouts with feelings of depression came while in the midst of a valueless situation that I couldn't see any way out of. Because I can look ahead and predict future possibilities, I'm usually able to determine if my current path or lifestyle has value in getting me where I want to go. If I can't see value in what I'm doing, then I instinctively leap forward, projecting those valueless things into a future that starts to look hopeless. So I try to change my life and create value. If I can't, that leads to more hopelessness and the eventual downward spiral into depression.

Now, I've always been able to bring myself out of those feelings. Sometimes it's by doing the things I listed above (writing, walking, etc.) to sort through my thoughts and emotions. Sometimes it's by seeking a professional counselor to talk with. Sometimes it's by making those decisions that are both hard and right. And sometimes, I simply take my situation and use it to fuel my ambition.

I'm betting that most INFJs battle with issues that either are or resemble attention deficit disorder and depression. Whether it's part of our personality type or not, we definitely need to recognize these situations and seek the help we need in order to deal with them.

Do you have these kinds of feelings or issues? Have you ever wondered if your mental or emotional health is tied to your personality type? If you have, or if you know of any studies that might shed some light on this, please comment here or on the Cafe fan page.

I may post on this again. It kind of depends on how the next week plays out. In the meantime, here are links to the Square Peg articles, if you want to check them out: 

Square Peg #1: Stacking Things Up
Square Peg #2: To Infinity and Beyond
Square Peg #3: A Princess, An Atari, and The Cloak of Invisibility
Square Peg #4: Mutant and Proud
Square Peg #5: Wow, This is Awkward
Square Peg #6: The Real Thing, Baby
Square Peg #7: Embracing The Cat
Square Peg #8: Mission Impossible

Take care, guys :)

Image Credit: The Same, Balloon Thoughts, I'll Take the Case


Write comments
Christy Haupt
January 29, 2016 at 8:32 AM delete

I read somewhere that depression means you are looking back. Just stop it! But as an INFJ, that was not the case, for me anyway. I was seeing too many ways ahead and which one to choose to be best for me and for the others involved. I believe for ADD/ADHD, depression to be properly handled a Myers-Briggs need first be run and the doctor well trained in each type before meds or a course of treatment applied. In the end, for me, I was thinking TOO much of others FIRST and me dead last, so I had to learn to reverse the process AND learn about setting appropriate boundaries.