I was reading through the blogs on my dash the other day, as you do, and Sarah over at A Life Less Physical had a very interesting post about changes due to chronic illness (click on the linky to go read it). Her post was about taking a test that determined the best work situation for her and how her preference had changed from pre-illness.
This got me thinking about other tests. Now, I love taking all these different tests that you get online. Personality, Hogwarts house…. I’ll take them all (just so you know, I always end up in Slytherin). But I always have a little difficulty in answering some of the questions, or rather how I should be answering the questions.
Illness has changed so much but has it changed my personality or is it just the circumstances that are different?
Pre-illness I was rather spontaneous. I would get on a train or a bus and see where I ended up. I have always been a socially anxious little plum but when it came to making decisions for myself I was spontaneous. Now? Well, I need at least a week to prepare to leave the house and go to my favourite restaurant where I’ve been before with my parents. So when it comes to answering a question like Are you spontaneous? …. Am I? Do I say yes? Even though I am incapable of being so anymore? Do I answer the question with pre-illness me in mind? Was that my personality and are these just my circumstances or do my circumstances change my personality?
Which brings me onto another point. Anyone with a chronic illness knows that comparing yourself to pre-illness you, let alone comparing yourself to a healthy other, is a bad road to be on. After all, comparison really is the thief of joy. So, is answering questions about my personality by thinking of myself as pre-illness actually harmful to me? I’m pretty good at living in my new normal but is holding onto who we were before bad for us? Should we just be accepting that this is my personality now and let it go?
And how does this relate to mental health tests like depression and for other conditions such as autism? When filling out questionnaires for these things do we fill it out with pre-illness us in mind or how we are now? Is it a balancing act where we have to decide which parts are now our personality and which parts will always be our underlying personality regardless of our circumstances?
I’m happy never leaving the house, pottering around alone with my crafts and my books but if I was well I would be out doing everything. So what is personality and what’s circumstances?
I decided to take a test based on the Myers Briggs personality test twice, one for pre-illness 15 year old me and one for me now to see how much, if at all, my ‘personality’ has changed.
Here’s how I got on:
Pre-illness // Now
Pre-illness Result: ISFP – The Adventurer (Introvert – Observant – Feeling – Prospecting)
Now Result: INTJ – The Architect (Introvert – Intuitive – Thinking – Judging)
The only thing that stayed the same was that I’m introverted! I wasn’t quite expecting it to change that much! (I did actually go back and redo a more extensive test twice and got the same results the second time around.) But reading through the explanation of both I can definitely see how I fit/ed both results. I guess it makes sense that I plan things out more now that I have less energy to go around. Does that mean that everything apart from the basic Introvert/Extrovert part of anyone’s personality is subject to change due to any change in circumstances? Or is something like a chronic illness just so all-consuming that it’s only something like that that would show such a drastic change?
So what do you think? How close is personality linked to circumstances? Should we be taking into account how we’ve changed when we take these kinds of tests or do we answer them according to our circumstances? Should we be ignoring our circumstances completely and be answering how we would like to be in the perfect circumstances? Do you think personality tests like this are a load of hooey?
And most importantly do you love taking tests as much as me? I would love for you to take the tests and let me know how you got on (The one I took is here), and it doesn’t only have to be if you have a chronic illness, maybe there was some other big change in your life that might have changed you?