Thursday, 21 January 2016


Sometimes I take breaks, withdraw, from people, from going out,withdraw into my own world which is a place of refuge.  I do not sit staring at the wall.  When withdrawn from the outside world I look very busy.  I am busy.  I am occupying my brain with learning new things because believe it or not, that is a form of respite for a busy brain like mine.  My brain is normally busy taking in everything around me intuitively, processing it, filing it somewhere, pondering it and making connections, filling in gaps even if temporarily.  I need to understanding things.  It's am intense craving sort of need.

When I give my brain a rest, I occupy it with facts.  When I withdraw I am fact gathering.  Of course, I cannot help making connections and having epiphanies while I gather the facts, but somehow it's all a little more soothing and self directed than what everyday experiences feel like.  I will dive into a subject that fascinates me, such as colour, or more broadly, some aspect of psychology or philosophy.  I seek to learn everything I can about this current topic of focus.  I read endlessly and I make notes.  Almost frantically at times.

It looks like this...

It may be my laptop or a book that is open and in use.  I make notes.  I am quite prone to making notes on small scraps of paper, with the logic being something to do with very important ideas get their own piece of paper and then trivial working something out ideas can be scrawled all over the discarded pieces.

This is a strangely busy and seemingly not relaxing activity and perhaps not what any of my friends might imagine I am doing when they notice I have withdrawn.  It is not the same as a crash due to the CFS/ME where I am just in bed and can't function.  This one is not a feature of my medical issues but a feature of my personality.  I realise I have done this all of my life.  It is why I would love to be a university student forever.  It brings mental peace.  Some people take their body for a jog to relieve stress.  I have to take my brain for a jog.

Social interaction does not give me facts to rest with, it gives me information about people, about the world that my brain uses in a non-restful way.  More like those images we see of frantic stockbrokers in the trading rooms.  Information about people and the world is steadily coming in at me and I am processing, making decisions, filing information, making connections, taking in more information than I could ever begin to describe to anyone, and often more than I am aware of at the moment.  I am only aware of being bombarded.  I know more about other people than they often know about themselves, because I have taken in so much, but I also know more about them than I know about myself.  In order to better understand myself I have to slow down and direct my brain to a singular focus.  I cannot empty it easily.  If I empty it, as in meditation or a meditative task, it will just automatically go back to sorting through the files of everything I've taken in, continuing to process, make connections, devise systems of understanding.  I have no control over this; all I can do is employ methods of interrupting it.

It's not sensory input, that is quite different.  I am often less aware of sensory information than I should be.  I am that person who walks through a doorway but hits the frame as she goes.  I am that person who is literally in her own head and not physically present.  This is why sensory information can sometimes hit me really hard and feel like too much.  I am not accustomed to dealing with it.  I don't deal with it well if it is overstimulating or startling.  If I make myself focus on more sensory things, I can also give my mind a break.  This is where I find myself loving painting, gardening, and even weight training although the CFS/ME makes a bodybuilding hobby an impossibility.  I have tried.

So something like studying, focus on one specific topic, diving deeply into it, making notes and learning new facts is a brain vacation of sorts.  Of course, I cannot stop myself from aha moments, from sudden clear understanding of something I had only had a vague and intuitive sense of before, but the aha moments are fine.  They are restful in a sense too.  There is some sort of closure.  It's the endless intuiting that is draining.  It's the frustration of knowing I know something and can trust my intuition but not be able to explain to someone exactly how I know, that I need a break from.  I can explain how I came to know something that I've studied and studying something can help me make sense of everything I have intuited.  I am not creative when I am in this phase.  I can't be.  That is almost shut down and it used to distress me. I didn't know who I was if I was not creating.  I understand it better now. I can always feel when the creative part of me is gearing up and that too brings a sense of relief.

I have to shut people out sometimes.  They are sources of too much input for me.  Overload hits me and I have to withdraw.  But I think some if not many people would be surprised at what recharging looks like for me.  I suspect to some it would even look like mental illness.  Manic, or something like what a delusional person might engage in.  It's not.  It's just me.  It's just how my brain functions.  I've opened a window to it here, in case it might help anyone else who is like me and fears they are weird.

And now, I have to do something about my hunger, my headache and the fact that my feet are cold.  I have been registering these things for about an hour now but too focused on writing this to address them.  No wonder I struggle a bit with self care.

Deep breath, make a plan:  scrambled eggs, tea and painkillers, thick socks-I can do it.

 Note: due to extreme need to deal with these sensory issues I am posting this unedited.  Sorry.  I've used up all my energy and there is none left for editing. 


  1. Interesting. We're all different. The important thing is to know what helps us and you seem to have that knowledge.

    1. If I don't have the knowledge I desire I always seek it. I thrive on the combination of knowledge, intuition and feeling. xoxo

  2. I don't get the impression you watch much television, but if you happen to have Amazon Prime there is a new show on there called Mr. Robot about a young man, mysterious, a clever hacker.We're not quite sure what is going on within his mind, even though he is constantly explaining in a narrative voiceover the overload of data he is able to process and intuitive ways he has of assessing people's innermost secrets. It's all very Orwellian and spooky and weird, but as much about the mind, in this case a genius mind with major flaws, and its myriad vortex ways - I think you might like it anyway! It's sort of on a loop in my head after immersing myself in INFP reading for a couple of days. There are some great videos on Youtube, well interesting anyway, about the INFP/INFJ differences and how they are similar but very different.

    Anyway I completely relate to having to retreat sometimes. I met a bunch of new people (bloggers!) this weekend, and I find myself incapable of writing about the experience without saying something that might offend. There was just so much talk of exterior/extroverted things like networking and media and local business alliances, it all felt completely alien to me. Usually I can handle meeting new people because I end up speaking one on one to someone or other, but this was like some sort of board meeting! It lacked introverted feeling or connection on any level, and so I shut down, in true INFP style. Anyway sorry to ramble...I'm also in an introverted headspace right now - completely understand the need for concentrating on something "other" :-) xo

    1. Ah, extroverted people. Love them but so hard to relate to them. And we are just as alien to them! You are quite right, I do not watch television and do not have any amazon or netflix or any such thing. I sometimes find programs online randomly that I watch though. Especially if it is produced by BBC4. I will look into Mr Robot and see if I can find it. It does sound like something I would like so thank for the rec.
      Also I think I neglected to answer one of your questions about makeup. Eyeshadow? NYX I think it was. My NYX shadow is a pot of powder not a stick. I think that answers your question. :-) Please ramble all you want to. I enjoy rambling. xo

    2. Ah, thanks! I have tried their eye shadows and liked them a lot. And blushes too!

      Mr. Robot I think was an Amazon Original. (Not trying to sell you Prime but it does come with free one day shipping (it might be two day in N.America, and a kindle lending library and music too now I think. It's not bad value for money ;-)

  3. So much to say I can't put words around it.
    You seem to be doing what I call special interest. Delving deeply into something at thr cost of comfort and food etc.
    Our brains need to focus to relax. Too much input and trying to make sense of it otherwise.
    That's partly why I create, so I can deeply concentrate on one task.
    Well I did find some words after all!
    Xo Jazzy Jack

    1. Painting and gardening are the two best activities to get me out of my head and are sort of meditative for me. I am focusing entirely on sensory things and not thoughts. However, when I am in the phase you call delving deep I seem mostly unable to create. I describe it as being in either input phase or output phase. At the moment I am in an input phase. :-) Thank you for the words you found. I am honoured to receive them, my friend. xoxo

  4. Your retreat sounds soothing, and I love that you use the term "fact-gathering". Dive deep and discover something you may have already known, but life got too noisy. xoxo to you,


  5. Aha, your remark at the last about having no energy left for editing reinforces my view of your blog as a personal journal opened for readers who also sketch on scraps and doodle on the margins of books. Agreed, sometimes the pursuit of a subject is all absorbing -- and so rewarding if, in the end, one captures a "connection" that is as concrete in one's stash of knowledge as a lump of gold.

  6. Love the photo of your room - so inviting and looks very much like mine, in some sense. I have a very similar inner process when I dive in and absorb as much as I want. Sometimes this fascination with a subject goes on for a couple of days or weeks, and other times for a couple of years. Then it's time to switch to either doing/making, or resting, or studying/absorbing another subject.


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