“How are you doing?”
No one wants to hear about your shitty day. If someone asks you how your day is, you’re not supposed to tell them about how you were late to work for the third time this week because all three of your children are desperately sick and you’re basically a single mom with a workaholic husband who prefers to be at work than at home. Come on, no one fucking CARES.
We don’t look at a person with bleary, puffy, blood-shot eyes and ask if she’s okay. We look away and and pretend not to notice.
As more of the people around me find out about my mental issues, more people ask me how I’m doing. I rarely say that I’m struggling or that I’ve been having bad thoughts again. I rarely say I wish I could crawl under a rock and never come out. I don’t talk about how crazy school is and the endless drama between the staff and students. I don’t tell people about how heartbreaking some of the things I see at the hospital are. Mostly because people don’t ask. Mostly because the people who do ask don’t want to know.
Asking “How are you” has become the equivalent of “Hi, can we chat/something crazy happened and I want to tell you about it.” Sometimes, I’ve tried being honest, saying things are tough and I’m having a hard time. Usually the response I get is, “Oh that really sucks :(” and then after a prolonged silence: “Well I hope you’re okay.”
Uh, excuse me? No, I’m not fucking okay, did I not just make that clear? Didn’t I just say I wasn’t okay, which is one time out of the 500 times you ask me how I’m doing? If you’re going to throw blanket statements at me, why do you even bother asking me how I’m doing? I’m NOT okay, isn’t that obvious? I’m NOT okay, NOT okay, AT ALL. Does that not matter to anyone?
But as usual, I can’t really blame everyone else for it either. Most people don’t know how to respond to, “No, I’m not okay.” What do you say when your friend tells you about how much she’s struggling to survive? Or that a particular case brought up a slew of unwanted and uncherished memories?
I, too, want to be able to express my emotions just as they are. I want to be able to say, “I’m not feeling okay. But I don’t know why.” I want to be able to honestly say, “I’m feeling miserable and sad and for the love of God, don’t judge me for the reasons.”
I want people to stop asking how someone is doing just to be polite. I want people to ask because they mean it and they really want to know. I want people to want to know and really care because it hurts to know that people don’t.
I’m not okay, guys. I’m really not okay.
And I’m sorry this turned out to be a rant. I was a little tipsy when I wrote this.