“How Are You Feeling?”

howareyoufeelingquestionThat is a good question because here’s the thing. In the span of four hours, I go from anxious mess to nihilistic husk to charming narcissist to obsessive hanger-on to raging bitch to asleep. That’s not an exaggeration, and it doesn’t mean I’m having different episodes. It’s just the nature of emotional lability, which is not only a symptom but a side-effect as well. Plus, I’m pretty good at hiding it unless I’m provoked.

And by provoked, I mean constantly being asked how I am. I know it comes from a good place, but sometimes, I literally don’t know. Making me walk through the labyrinth that is my moods tends to just irritate and confuse me. I’m usually trying to suppress because playing into the moods – while sometimes fun – just makes them worse.

Usually, I’m feeling fine by my standards, but my bar is pretty low compared to everyone else. It’s difficult to articulate, but like, being morbid and obsessive is my normal. That doesn’t mean, however, I don’t know that I’m not good by most people’s standards.

In a way, this question – when repeated – comes across as an attempt to make the people asking it feel better or more in control. But I’m not even in control. How can they expect to have even a modicum of control? Berating me about my current mental state is kind of like asking someone with a broken leg if it’s still broken every hour. Yes, it’s still broken, and the constant questioning is just a reminder of how broken it is. Stop rubbing it in please!

Don’t get me wrong. I know it comes from a good place. That’s what makes it so hard when I feel myself getting irritated, but for the most part, no news is good news. If I don’t call someone in hysterics, it’s safe to assume I’m still relatively okay.

The same goes for questions like “is there anything I can do?” Again, asking this once or twice is totally fine. In fact, I sincerely appreciate it. But constantly asking, especially after I’ve made it pretty clear that there’s nothing someone can do – because there usually isn’t honestly – again just seems like an attempt to feel some control over the situation.

Plus, I tend to interpret the reiteration of these questions as someone having a fix-me mentality. Usually, the thing I need most from people is the occasional listening ear and a simple “what you’re going through is real” type of response. The endless barrage of attempts to make me better once again reminds me that there is literally no simple solution. This diagnosis is essentially a life sentence, and it affects every facet of my life from how people perceive me to how I view and handle interpersonal relationships to my mental and physical faculties to basically everything else. Sometimes, I just need that acknowledged. Trying to find a quick-fix or temporary-high becomes diminishing and dismissive of the actual scope of the problem it if persists.

This all probably sounds petty and possibly pessimistic of me, but I know how I feel day-in and day-out. It’s usually “meh,” but I’ve learned to deal with it as best I can. I hate harping on how badly I feel because I know it brings down even the people who genuinely care about me, so usually when someone asks the questions, the response he or she gets from me is either a flat-out lie or a sugarcoated version of my reality. People ask, but I think few people want to know the truth. I only say this from experience because when I get so frustrated that I actually spill the nitty-gritty, they get scared.

I am so grateful I have people who care about me, but sometimes, my illness warps my worldview in such a way that I become resentful of those people’s care because it forces me to try. It forces me to put forth the effort when I would literally rather sink into my mattress. I hope the effort pays off, and at that point, I’m sure I will be permanently thankful that people pushed me to try and get better even when I resented and felt guilted by their concern. But for now, I’m not fine. I’m coping, and honestly, that’s my own personal version of “fine.”

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