When Your Answer to ‘How Are You Feeling?’ Is ‘I Don’t Know’


It’s OK to say, “I don’t know.”

I was diagnosed with postpartum depression after my son was born almost 10 years ago. From there I have been diagnosed with major depressive disorder, multiple anxiety disorders, panic disorder and bipolar with psychosis. And most days I don’t know how I feel.

If you ask me at 9 a.m., I might feel sad and depressed. At 1 p.m., I might feel content. At 6 p.m., I might feel agitated. At 2 a.m., I might feel extremely anxious. Between all that, I have probably laughed, and I’ve probably had a panic attack.

I don’t know how I feel.

Friends usually do not understand that, especially after so many years have passed. They seem to think I should have figured it out. I seem to think I should have figured it out by now.

I have had therapists and psychologists who have seemed puzzled when they ask how I feel and I say I don’t know. They have questioned my answer. I’m puzzled by them. In the five minutes I’ve been sitting in their office, I have felt so many different emotions, and my racing thoughts have given me what seems to be a million different thoughts. I really don’t know what I’m feeling.

But it’s different now. I started seeing a new therapist this year. And when she asks me how I’m doing, I can say I don’t know. She’ll smile at me and say that’s fair enough. She knows so much is going on in my head, I don’t have just one answer. I can feel happy, sad, anxious, irritable, hopeless and hopeful all at the same time. And that is OK.

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