• I must apologise to you all (esp to Lisa and Keith) because I just realised today that there were comments on last week’s post that I never approved. I am so sorry! I have been operating all week on the assumption that no one commented on my post, and it turns out that my notifications got turned off in the last WordPress update. Whew! I thought I’d pissed you guys off or something!

    But the big reason I didn’t notice there were comments is that I wrote that post the Friday before it launched and I’ve been sick ever since. It started out as a cough that I thought might have been allergy-related. Then came the chills and the stomach bug and… let’s just say it hasn’t been the way I wanted to spend the last 12 days.

    As you might imagine, when someone with a chronic disease that manifests itself in intestinal symptoms gets a stomach bug, it is not pretty. The good news is that I have tons of practice dealing with “flu-like symptoms” (as we shall euphemistically refer to them) and I know what works best for me. Not to make light of anything, but it all kind of plays out like another day at the office after a while. I hate being sick. But I’m also very used to it. So I just grab some Wodehouse books and cue up some YouTube videos and make myself a nest on the couch. Shmi hates it, though, because I won’t let her sit on my lap in case I have to make a run to the bathroom. So I have been enduring a lot of disapproving bully looks.

    She’s also angry with me because I haven’t taken her for a walk since the first of February. Big bully guilt going on around here. (She’s on my lap snoring right now.)

    The tummy nonsense has been over for about a week. But the exhaustion remains. I haven’t been eating right of course. And I’m not even taking short walks. I’ve cancelled three appointments with my trainer. I literally haven’t been out of the house or seen people other than Bob in the better part of a fortnight.

    Here’s where the extrovert thing comes in.

    Everyone who has been on social media has seen the numerous memes about introverts. But it occurred to me that there are no such memes about extroverts. And then something happened that made me realise that people don’t really understand how extroverts operated.

    Right before I got sick, a friend of mine really annoyed me on Facebook. (The shock!) She posted a thing about introverts, and then added, “Why do people always tell us introverts to “come out of our shells”? Why does no one ever tell extroverts to shut up?”

    News for ya, honey: they do.

    And you know what else? It hurts like hell.

    I cannot count the amount of times I have been at a party, entertaining people, telling stories and making people laugh. (Bob calls it “holding court”.) And some rude man will say, “I bet you can’t shut up for five whole minutes.”

    You see, people think that because extroverts are socially confident that you can take shots at us like that and we won’t curl up in a ball and cry.

    Oh, but we do. We just don’t give those assholes the satisfaction of seeing us do it. We go home and do it in private. We don’t want that dickhead to think he won.

    This happens all the time. And you know what happens when I shut up? People get silent. Most conversation in the room dies. It’s like the other guests don’t know how to talk to each other without me leading the discussion. In my experience, the party usually breaks up shortly afterwards. And why? Because some guy couldn’t stand that someone other than him was getting the attention so he had to ruin everyone’s good time.

    Maybe he should practice being more interesting.

    Anyway, here’s where me being sick has to do with me being an extrovert.

    You know how introverts get drained by being around people. If they go to a party, they have to spend time at home to “recharge”?

    Extroverts are the exact opposite. We get energy from being around people. We’re like vampires. We feed on crowds. Being around people just gives us more and more. We’re the last ones to leave a party.

    Conversely, if we’re alone for too long, we wither.

    I’ve been sick for nearly two weeks. I’m withering.

    Obviously the answer is “Go out and be around people!” I mean, other than the fact that I sound like I’ll give them all consumption, this sounds like the solution, right?

    Not quite. Extroverts don’t magically get energy from people. People have to give you their energy.

    I remember a Con I did a number of years ago. One of my friends still calls it “The Con From Hell”. It was a fan convention for a TV show we liked. There were no celebrities there because it was small. But we expected a few things. The whole weekend centered around a ball. So we expected there to be a ball. And we expected people to dress up like characters from the show and meet other people who liked the show.

    I don’t know how I could have been so wrong. There were no panels at the Con, so there was pretty much nothing to do all day. No one seemed interested in dressing up (which, of course, is the whole reason I went). No one talked to anyone except the people they came with, so there were no new people to meet.

    As for the ball… there was a ball. But I think Bob and I were the only two people who danced at all. None of the music the DJ played had anything to do with the TV show. i can’t remember if the music wasn’t good dance music or if people just weren’t dancing to anything. But no one was dancing. So Bob requested a song and he and I tangoed out the door and went back to our room to play Cards Against Humanity.

    I went home feeling physically exhausted. I worked on my costumes for months. No one seemed to notice that I wasn’t wearing jeans and T-shirts.

    I got nothing from it. It was like spending the whole weekend expecting a sneeze that never happens.

    When I got home, I messaged my local theatre friends and we went out to Applebees and had a kind of homemade karaoke night. (Okay. We got a booth and ordered food and drinks and took turns singing songs at the top of our lungs and no one called the cops.)

    THAT gave me what I needed. It was small and stupid. But it gave me the energy I’d put into the Con and didn’t get back.

    So here I am. I haven’t been out in two weeks. I’m drained physically and emotionally. And I’m about at that point where this can become a dangerous feedback loop. I’m feeling low. But I don’t have the energy to get out and do something about it. There’s an improv thing tonight up in Eindhoven, but I’m still more likely to cough my head of than speak, so I don’t want to go.

    And the longer I don’t go anywhere, the more afraid I get that when I go out, I’m not going to get the energy I need.

    Feedback loop. Big bad feedback loop.

    The long it goes one, the longer it wants to go on. The more it’s going to take to get me out of it.

    Luckily I have an appointment with my trainer tomorrow that I will not cancel this time unless I am dead.

    But yeah. Just because I feed off crowds doesn’t mean I am not afraid of them. I’m just afraid of them for different reasons.

  • 16 comments

    SNAP ……. and you're out of it!

    Reply

    HAHAHAHA! I wish it were that easy. But as soon as I stop coughing like a dying horse, I'M GETTING OUT THERE!

    Reply

    Did it work? Or should I snap my fingers louder? ;-)

    Reply

    It's MAGIC!

    Reply

    This is fantastic! I am so sorry you are sick. Your post is wonderful though. I hope you get to feeling better soon and get that energy back! ;-}

    Reply

    Thank you! You commenting actually helps me with energy. So, really, thanks!

    Reply

    Being down with the flu is always horrible, and I'm sorry to hear this bout has you extra lonely. I hope your trainer's appointment will get you some new energy! And I have made myself the promise to not get the flu this year, since last year's 5 runs was quite enough to last me a while. And we're only a short nudge away. I will even let Shmi lie on top of me if it helps in any way. Hope you feel better soon!

    Reply

    You're so sweet. I think it didn't help that I got sick soon after my five minutes on stage. I was already going into "party's over blue" mode. Shmi is pleased with your offer. I promise not to give it to you when I see you next.

    Reply

    I understand the issue with th emotional feedback loop. It can be tough to break out of. Then being sick on top of it is like the gate has locked you in to the race track and you just go round and round and can see the exit but can't get out. Be brave. You'll start to feel better.

    Reply

    Thanks M. I had an appointment with my trainer yesterday and although I didn't feel well enough to work out (I am not breathing well yet), I had some administrative things to take care of with him. But just as I was getting into the shower, the power at my house went off. This doesn't sound like too big a deal until you discover that we have an electric gate and the car is inside the gate. So we can't get the car out because the power is off and the gate doesn't have a manual override. Because I'd cancelled the last three appointments with my trainer, I decided to walk. 2 kilometers. Normally this wouldn't be a bad thing, but I am not breathing well and I'm still pretty weak from being sick. I had exactly 30 mins to walk across town. I did it! I was on time, but it felt like hell. But having a goal outside myself really worked. On the walk home, I could stroll a little, and I noticed the crocuses are coming up, the trees are budding, and there are some gorgeous historic houses on the way to the gym (we usually don't drive that way). I really enjoyed it. And although I was exhausted, I felt more "up". Today we drove to Rotterdam to get my car. I drove it home. It was the first time I've driven since November! And I love my car. So again, I had a day where I saw people and good things happened. So maybe I can get out of this loop now. Tomorrow we go and get our other car, so I get to drive my baby again. It's not a fun drive (all highways) but it's supposed to be sunny and dry and in the 50s!

    Reply

    Oh, Kass! I'm so sorry you had the flu. I'm inwardly grateful that the flu shot seems to have worked for me this year. So far. I'm weird, in that I have a lot of introvert trait with an appearance to most people that I'm a dyed in the wool extrovert. It's so odd. You, however, are spectacular. Thanks for posting and for your replies, and for your big, beautiful brain!

    Reply

    Matti, you're so sweet! Thank you. You know, I have a very close friend who I always thought was just like me, and it turns out she's very much an introvert, but she kinda puts on her "crowd persona" and that's how she gets through it. It's amazing what you learn about people when you talk about these things. Fascinating!

    Reply

    Thanks for the point of-view of an extrovert. Because I lean more towards introvert, it’s kind of hard to see the other side. I really appreciate the people at a social gathering who are willing and able to start and continue conversations. There’s a reason they are called “the life of the party.” I’ve been working on my first German hemd, building it completely by hand this first time so I get to know the structure. So far so good, and I think I know what I will adjust on the next one. I will probably use a machine to speed up the long seams, but I find the slow, methodical work required of sewing completely by hand gives me a better grasp of how it needs to come together.

    Reply

    You're welcome. I don't think I've ever read anything about how extroverts feel, so I decided to share. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Hemden are such a wonderful project. You learn so much from the process I think. Keep on keeping on!

    Reply

    As an introvert who is married to an extrovert I can relate to to this post. My husband also is chronically sick, he has chronic fatigue. While i prefer to stay home with or without him, he on the other hand is forced by the very nature of his condition of his illness to be home with someone who wants nothing better than to be alone. I feel bad that I don’t want to go out, even to walmart, so that hubby can as he put it make people feel better after he leaves than they did when he got there. Kass your explanation is so accurate. He feeds off of them.

    Reply

    That's it, Susan! That is exactly it. It's so not easy, especially when you're fighting something chronic. But if you don't go out and "leave them better" (I LOVE that!), you know you'll just get sicker.

    Reply