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The Truthful Answer I Give When People Ask How I'm Doing

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When you have a chronic illness, sometimes it’s hard to know how to answer when asked how you’re doing. The odds are, we’re not doing very well. We have daily symptoms we’re contending with and most of the time we don’t feel well – but we don’t want to admit that to others. We question the sincerity of the question and what is considered to be too much information when we answer. So we lie, usually, instead of answering the truth – the truth being that we aren’t doing well.

I always question if someone really wants the truth – or just the brief, expected answer so that conversation can move along. I rarely answer honestly. I entered the habit of answering “OK” or “good,” even though it was a lie. I was tolerating the moment even though internally, I felt like death warmed over.

I became tired of answering with a lie and a superficial glancing over my daily health. I wanted a more sincere answer but I also didn’t want to dwell on the answer, particularly if my wellbeing is only being sought after on a superficial level, out of societal niceties. I hate the looks of pity when I answer with a truthful “I’m doing horrible” type of answer.

I tried out different answers that felt genuine for me but none felt right. To say “I’m functioning” is true, but it invites additional questioning and feelings of pity I thought. “I’m alive” didn’t work well either for me. I finally settled on “I’m hanging in.”

“I’m hanging in” provides a truthful answer without the invite for pity from others. It allows for further conversation, but doesn’t require additional questioning. It’s clear and to the point, “I’m managing, but I could be doing better – but I’m not worse either.”

Getty Image by lekce

Originally published: May 16, 2018
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