Depressed or introverted? What your therapist won’t tell you - Introvert Spring

depressed INFJ introvert

It hurts my heart to think about it, but there are many depressed introverts out there. You could chalk this up to a lot of things:

  • negative feedback from a young age from people who don’t understand our quiet ways
  • a tendency toward isolation, which leads to a lack of connection, social support, and intimacy
  • a tendency toward overthinking, rumination, and worry
  • social and environmental overstimulation, leading to a sense of overwhelm and emptiness

The bottom line is that our world is not set up for quiet, gentle souls to shine. Our culture’s busybody, bigger-is-better, and louder-is-prouder mentality can quickly crush the spirit of sensitive introverts. But an introvert’s sadness, emptiness, confusion, and overwhelm is not the same thing as clinical depression. Allow me to explain …

But first, a wee disclaimer.

I’m not a therapist, so what you are reading now is my opinion as an introvert author, coach, and entrepreneur who has received feedback from tens of thousands of introverted readers and hundreds of students since starting this website in 2013.

Introvert or INFJ Misdiagnosed as depressed or bipolar

What has stood out to me over the years is the amount of introverts (and INFJs, in particular), who confide that they were misdiagnosed as depressed or bipolar by therapists, who mistook their introversion and/or sensitivity as a sign of mental illness. Again, my heart is hurting to think of this.

Imagine spending years — decades even — of your life believing that there is something deeply, inherently wrong with you, something that is woven into your mental processes and imprinted on every fibre of your being. And now the therapist has confirmed it …

You are broken.

I know that for many of you there is no need for imagination. This has been your reality. Perhaps, you didn’t have it confirmed by a therapist, but you’ve always known deep down that there was something wrong with you. And then, miraculously, you found your way here, or to Susan Cain’s book Quiet, or to Introvert Dear, or any number of other introvert meccas. This is when you realized that you were never depressed after all. At least, not in the clinical sense.

You are simply introverted, sensitive, empathic, introspective. And you are in pain because no one understands this about you. No one will let you be the person you were made to be.

You are the depths of the sea trying to pass as an ocean wave, and you are tired. Tweet this

But there is hope.

I know this because everyday I receive messages from introverts who have swam down deep and awakened to their true power. “I thought there was something wrong with me. They told me I was depressed,” they say. Of course, I can’t see their faces, but I imagine that they have the expression of a child seeing snow for the first time. “I’m an introvert, there is nothing wrong with me,” they say, eyes alight.

Sometimes, they tell me more specific stories about how my work has helped to heal what therapy could not. This was the case for Michael Gilly, one of my confidence students, who recently sent me this message, which made my heart dance:

Hi Michaela,

I recently finished this course, and I just have to say how much it has changed my life! I was down in the depths of despair, where prescriptions and therapy couldn’t reach me, let alone help me. But I made myself go through your course, and did all of the exercises in it, including repeatedly doing the affirmation exercise until it was drilled into my subconscious. And the results have been nothing short of stunning! I feel so much better, sleep better, and think so much more positively now! I finally ended a toxic relationship (marriage), and am now dating more than I ever have before. Most importantly, I’m not going into it thinking that I’ll take anyone who even looks in my direction, as that is what led to my toxic marriage. I now believe that I am worthy of happiness and love, and nothing is going to hold me back anymore! You (and Marko) are awesome! Keep up the phenomenal work!
Thank you for helping me get my life back,
Mike Gilly

And there is Brian, who I did a breakthrough coaching session with a while back:

“I hope you realize that your conclusions were beyond the grasp of no less than two counselors, both of which held a Ph.D in psychology and a few random social workers. You cracked the code I had been working on for decades.”

And yes, I know that therapy does work in many cases, and plenty of therapists do understand introversion. But.

I’m writing this article for people like Michael, and Brian, and all the other countless introverts and INFJs, who say that even their therapists didn’t understand them.

Interestingly, I have also heard from several therapists, who have told me that discovering my work has changed the way they approach their practice. Gabriel (name changed for anonymity), a practicing psychotherapist explains:

“I think coaching has always been a part of my treatment and I bring a wealth of mental health psychology to deepen the understanding. In no small part, INTROVERT SPRING has opened my awareness and self-identication of my own Introvert tendencies, which is now shared in treatment to greatly help others.”

So, are you depressed, INFJ, or introverted?

First and foremost — whether you are depressed, INFJ, or introverted — you are human. And there is no shame in your struggle. It’s okay to not have it all figured out. It’s okay to be different. It’s okay to have messy emotions, and a messy life.

I’m not here to diagnose you and tell you all the right things to fix what is broken inside you. That’s not what this article or this website is about. I’m simply here to shine a light and help you see that there is hope.

So, please do read more about introversion and depression, if you think that will help. Or see a therapist if you think that will help. Or read something funny, or something sad if you think that will help.

Again, I’m not here to fix you. I just want you to know that there is oxygen even at the bottom of the ocean. You can breathe now.

Lots of love,

 

Michaela Chung