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16 Honest Answers to 'How Are You?' When You're Chronically Ill

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Friends and acquaintances often ask “How are you?” as a casual greeting — just something you say when you meet someone. And though we may automatically respond, “I’m fine!” or “Good, how are you?” sometimes we’re not being completely truthful. Especially when you live with chronic health challenges, you might not really be “doing fine” — but you may not feel comfortable discussing the health challenges you’re actually dealing with at the time.

But we want to know how you really are, and we want others to know what’s really going on with you, because you deserve credit for the challenges you live with every day. So, we asked our Mighty community with chronic illness to share what their honest answer would be if someone asked, “How are you?”

Here’s what our community told us:

1. “The honest answer is I don’t even really know. Each day is different, really each hour is different. One minute I will feel great then the next I am in so much pain I just want to lay in bed and cry. My body can be so unpredictable it’s exhausting to try and keep up. I’m also so frustrated with my body because I want to do so many things but my body is keeping me from doing so. So instead of not knowing how I’m feeling, I am basically feeling every emotion imaginable all at once. That’s how I am.”

2.It’s frustrating when people ask as most are only asking because its just a platitude, they don’t really want to know. But I will tell them, ‘It’s like wearing a lead suit, you are so exhausted you have to drag yourself around.’ Another one I have used is, ‘I am a bit like the old Holden car, the body is good but the motor is clapped out.’”

3. “I’m tired. And not the type of tired that is relieved by sleep. I mean I’m emotionally, mentally, and physically drained from living and fighting in a body that wants to destroy me. And all I ask is that you try to understand that I’m trying my best to get through this.”

4.I honestly would say ‘I’m fine’ while screaming on the inside ‘I feel exhausted and tired of being in pain.’ They are days I feel like I could crawl out of my skin.”

5.Tired, fed up, down beaten and battered. Stressed, in agony and defeated. But on the way up. I have somewhere I can call home and a fantastic man I can call my partner. I don’t have much money so that’s always hard but we’ve got each other and I am almost coping. Sometimes. Maybe tomorrow will be better or worse but we just have to keep plodding otherwise there won’t be a tomorrow to look forward to. A cuddle always makes it better.”

6. “I am surviving. I am in a body that betrays me every day. The thing is that my answer can change from moment to moment. The pain is always there. It’s just at different levels from moment to moment.”

7.I’d say that while I’m exhausted of the pain and fatigue and uncertainty, I am still grateful to those who genuinely care enough to ask me how I am and that while I feel crappy often I’m confident knowing I’m doing the best I can.”

8. “I’m tired. I’m frustrated. I’m stressed. I’m in pain. I’m cranky. I feel constantly inadequate. I feel jealous of everyone around me who are capable of doing things I use to be able to do and no longer can… And people telling me ‘we’ll get through this together,’ or ‘it will get better’ seems almost patronizing. It sounds like a greeting card… You can check out of my illnesses whenever you want. I am stuck with it forever.”

9. “Scared, exhausted, weak and frustrated but still fighting, still going strong, being optimistic and never ever giving up! Excuse my fluctuating mental state, but I’ve got this with your support.”

10. “I’m not exactly great. My body is full of pain, and I tired of pretending to be stronger than I feel. I hardly rest so besides pain exhumation has set in. But I’m alive, so I guess I’m decent.”

11. “I’m overwhelmed with simple chores. My body has aches and pains I’ve never experienced before. I’m tired even after a long nights rest. I want to go to the park, I want to be an active toddler’s mother. Some days I’m not. Some days she knows mommy doesn’t feel good, and that day I just can’t.”

12.I’m in a much better place than I was a few months ago, but that’s because of how I choose to look at my life, not because my life has become easy.”

13. “My body is in excruciating pain while I pretend to smile. I’m so tired from fighting pain and tired of battling. Then comes the no sleep on top of that. I’m tired of pretending things are good.”

14.I’m exhausted and not just physically but emotionally. I hurt every day and no, nothing makes it go away. I’m hurting emotionally too because I can’t do everything I want to do. I’m tired of hearing if you just do this you’ll feel better, I’ve tried it I’ve done it all in hopes of feeling better but it’s not that simple.

15. “Honestly, I feel awful. I’ve been in the middle of a flare up for a month and half now, and I’m just desperate to feel better! I’m trying to keep it together and seem as normal as possible, but I’m struggling.”

16. “I would thank the person for actually checking in with me to see how my day had been rather than assuming they all suck equally or that because I am pleasant therefore nothing was awful about the day. Depending on the day I would add that I am ‘in progress.’ Sometimes more. Sometimes way less. And having someone to understand that any teeny little thing that brings happiness or purpose is better when it’s shared is what would help me master the days that beat me down.”

Originally published: April 14, 2017
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