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9 'Code Words' People Use Instead of Honestly Answering 'How Are You?'

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When you live with bipolar disorder (and even if you don’t!), it can be difficult to express how you’re truly doing without feeling like a burden. I often default to “I’m fine” even when I’m far from it. It’s hard to open up to friends, family and even professionals such as psychiatrists and therapists because you never know how they are going to respond. Here are some code words you probably catch yourself or your loved ones saying instead of “I’m not OK.”

• What is Bipolar disorder?

1. The common: “I’m good,” “I’m fine” or “I’m alright.”

It’s OK to not be OK all the time. It can be easier to hide behind a mask, but it’s important to know that one day that mask will crack. It’s better to have taken it off before it crumbles entirely.

2. The lie: “I’m great” or “I’m happy,” even though you know it’s not true.

There’s a fear that being authentic will push people away, but it can also be a chance to bring the dependable people closer.

3. The cover-up: “Things are going OK.”

It’s difficult to let people know how you’re really feeling when you know your thought process is different from theirs. But sometimes a different perspective is exactly what you need.

4. The half-truth: “I’m holding on.”

It’s hard to be honest with someone else when you don’t even want to be honest with yourself. But with certain people in your life, it’s worth letting them in and giving it a shot.

5. The shutting people out: “It’s complicated.”

Thinking people won’t understand can be a huge reason we don’t open up about certain things. Life is messy and things can be complex, but it’s toxic to hold in all of your emotions.

6. The short answer: “I’ve been better.”

It’s hard to explain that you’re hurting, but it’s OK to be vulnerable even though it’s extremely challenging.

7. The subtle truth: “I’m living each day as it comes.”

When you can’t seem to pick yourself up, it’s tough to imagine someone else will do it for you. But when you open up to others it gives them the opportunity to help.

8. The keeping people at a distance: “I’d rather not talk about it.”

It’s easier to shut the world out than come out of your shell and comfort zone. It’s easier to try forget your problems and worries — harder to ask for help and understanding. But connections and relationships are important and can help you feel less alone.

9. The silent treatment: Saying nothing at all or reflecting the question back to them.

Saying something out loud makes it 10 times more real than ignoring it until it goes away. Life is not always perfect and there is no need to pretend that it is.

Sometimes it’s hard to read a person, but if their body language is different from what they are saying, they might be using code words. If you catch yourself or your loved ones using code words often, it can be worthwhile to gently try to decipher the truth. Everyone is struggling in their own way, just try to remember to check up on your friends. We could all benefit from being a little more honest with each other.

Photo by Valentin Lacoste on Unsplash

Originally published: November 22, 2019
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