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Why I Don't Respond to 'How Are You?' Texts When I'm Depressed or Manic

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Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

“How are you?” is the question I despise the most when I am in the midst of a depressive or manic episode. I understand people mean well. And I feel terrible for saying this because I don’t want people to think I am ungrateful they’ve expressed concern for me. But the question is a constant reminder I am not doing well. It is one of the many reasons I will not respond to a text message that says those three simple words, “How are you?”

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I am very vocal about my mental health challenges as I share them on social media, wrote a book on my life, have a mental health podcast and give plenty of presentations and speeches on my journey. I attend therapy twice a week, so talking about my current struggles is not the problem. While talking is therapeutic, there are times I do not want to talk about anything. Some people say things to make an episode worse and others can’t handle a conversation about suicide, so I don’t engage. Sometimes, I don’t want to act on my thoughts. I need a safe space to talk about it; I limit suicide conversations to my therapist and the few friends who can handle it. 

I communicate with my support system I feel best supported when someone comes to my house and watches a movie with me, cooks for me, helps me clean and reminds me my life matters. If I have the energy to drive, I am open to spending the night with someone, so I am not alone. There are some days I haven’t left my bed to eat or shower, and leaving home is not always an option. I feel valued when people go the extra mile to show they care. A person’s presence is good enough for me. Don’t try to “fix” me or feel bad for me; show up and be there.

Original photo by author

Originally published: March 30, 2020
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