"I'm Fine"

He knows bad days. Bad days take him completely by surprise. They make him not trust the good days because it’s likely something is lurking twenty-four hours away.
— Melina Marchetta, The Piper's Son

“I’m fine.” Those stupid little words that we are taught to say when asked how we are. Why? Why do we subject ourselves to lying all the time? Why can’t we just tell someone the truth when they ask? What are we so afraid of?

We’re afraid of the truth. We’re afraid of making ourselves so vulnerable to someone else. Someone we don’t know if we can trust. We don’t know how they are going to take or respond to that truth. It’s still even difficult when we can completely trust that person.

We feel like we aren’t suppose to be hurting. We aren’t suppose to have this inner pain, or because no one can see it, it must not be real.

When we say “I’m fine” what changes? Nothing. Nothing will change because that person will never know the truth. They will walk away thinking exactly what you said. That you’re fine.

The first step to beating these demons is admitting that you’re not fine. You’re not okay. You’re hurting deep inside where no one can see the pain. Even if they can see the pain written across your face they don’t know what it truly feels like. It’s your pain, your burden to carry. You don’t want to share it and I completely understand that feeling.

We need to share it though. We need to understand that by sharing it we aren’t transferring it, we can’t give it away. They don’t actually take the pain away, instead they leave with a better understanding of what you are going through and hopefully a better understanding of how to help you.

Again, that’s where a good support system comes into place. This person, or people should know to ask specific questions. Ones that they know are going to get the truth out of you. People who know that when you say “I’m fine”, it probably means your suffering. Of course there are times when we are fine, and you need to have a conversation with them ahead of time so they know what to watch for. Most of us give off subtle clues as to where we truly are mentally. They need to figure out what those clues are so they have a better understanding your true self.

Some of my cues that I’m going into a “crisis”:

  • I get quiet

  • I stare off into space

  • I chew my fingernails

  • I fidget

  • My leg bounces

  • My legs start to shake

My support system needs to know these cues so that they can help me when I’m too afraid to ask for it. Of course these cues are only useful if they are there with me. There’s a whole different set of cues to watch for if they aren’t there with me. It’s usually me not responding to a text.

It takes practice to ask for help. It takes practice to admit that you aren’t okay. It doesn’t happen overnight. Whether you’ve lived with this for a long time, or it’s just starting to affect you recently, it’s not okay to suffer in silence. “I’m fine” is not an acceptable answer when you aren’t actually fine. If you’re in pain your not fine. Quit saying it.

My challenge to you today is to admit it to someone close. Let it out. Don’t bottle it up inside.