Fourteen days I’ve been out of the hospital. I lost count, but my MyFitnessPal app keeps track of how many days I’ve logged in, and since I log in every day…
Fourteen days I’ve been asked, “How are you doing?” or something of the same ilk. And I almost always answer, hesitantly, “I’m doing OK.” I hope my hesitation gives the impression that I am doing neither good nor bad, but somewhere in the middle. Something like, “I’m managing, but there are still symptoms.” I suppose it would be better not to assume people jump from, “I’m OK” to “I’m managing, but there are still symptoms.”
I’m not sure why I find it hard just to say the latter rather than risk someone thinking OK means Good. For some people I’d like to brush over the question, as I again assume that the person doesn’t really want to hear about all my symptoms. (I’m doing a lot of assuming!) <i’m doing=”” an=”” awful=”” lot=”” of=”” assuming!=””>It’s easier for me to let that person think I’m not in immediate danger and everything is alright. Again, I’m assuming people don’t want to hear how I’m really doing. Culturally we often ask each other, “How are you doing?” and expect the answer “Fine” or “Good.” Perhaps I’m leaning on that idiom and hope that my saying “OK” means “Not exactly good.”
Other people I’ll say “OK” to, and then expand on that. They are my circle of support. It’s important for me to be honest with them, no matter hard it is. I even still find it hard sometimes to be honest with my psychiatrist or therapist, the two people I need to be the most honest with, especially when it comes to my safety! And those times are the times when I find it the hardest to say I was rehearsing or I’m obsessing and I can’t handle it anymore.
And that’s the same information my support system needs in order for them to give me the wake-up call, “It’s time for a higher level of care.” Truth is that I still feel like a burden to these friends, having landed on their doorsteps and then promptly have a mental illness blow up in my face, complete with neediness of friends in the area since family is elsewhere. Guilt is a terrible feeling to add on top of truth about how I’m doing. Therefore, I try not to say, “I’m OK” to these people, and if I do, to follow it up immediately with some details – at least that symptoms are low or high or manageable.
Truth is hard.