10 Honest Text Responses to 'How Are You?' From Someone With Invisible Illness

Every time I am asked, no matter the medium, ‘How are you?’ I freeze. I start running through the list of qualifying questions in my head to decide how honest I should be in my reply. Straight up? White lie? Semi-truthful?

How close am I to this person? Are they having a good day? Are they asking just to be nice? Do they really want to know? Do they know about my mental illnesses? How much do they know of my chronic pain? Have they responded well in the past to my disclosures of pain? The list of questions can be endless.

When struggling with a variety of invisible illnesses and mental health issues, the simple question gets blown to extreme proportions. The question poses endless possibilities; I could answer more honestly and vulnerably and enhance my relationship with them, or, I could fib and keep myself and my feelings at arm’s length.

Often if the question is over text, I sit staring at my phone for minutes trying to figure out my answer. Almost always, I cave. I respond with, “I’m fine, how about you?” or “Not bad, you?” making sure to quickly turn the conversation to them.

However, each time that question is asked, it’s an opportunity to do things differently. It’s an opportunity to be more transparent, more honest. It’s an opportunity to be closer to those around you, an opportunity to raise awareness for your disability, disease, diagnosis, etc. It’s an opportunity to get support that you may need.

Here are 10 real texts I could have sent during the last week:


next that says not great. ive been fairly anxious all day because of some drama at work
Not great. I’ve been fairly anxious all day because of some drama at work.


text that says could be better. my hips have been in more pain than normal tody and i am not off work until 5 pm
Could be better. My hips have been in more pain than normal today and I am not off work until 5 p.m.


text that says meh, im feeling pretty unsettled lately, a lot has changed for me in the last few months
Meh. I’m feeling pretty unsettled lately, a lot has changed for me in the last few months.


text that says tired, i couldnt sleep last night because i was in so much pain
Tired. I couldn’t sleep last night because I was in so much pain.


text that says honestly, not really sure. i just feel overwhelmed by everything today
Honestly, not really sure. I just feel overwhelmed by everything lately.


text that says crappy. i slipped and fell down some stairs and hit my bad hip
Crappy. I slipped and fell down the stairs and hit my bad hip.


text that says exhausted. it has been a long day
Exhausted, it’s been a long day.


text that says remember the scenes in the titanic when the ship sinks. i feel like that
Remember the scenes in the Titanic when the ship sinks? I feel like that.


text that says in a lot of pain today. feels like i was used as a stunt double for a really bad action movie
In a lot of pain today. Feels like I was used as a stunt double for a really bad action movie.


screenshot of text that says im feel sad
I’m feeling sad.


Honest, straight to the point. The precise opposite of how I typically answer. Why not respond truthfully, then ask for the support you need?

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