Tuesday, October 24, 2017

What Do I Mean When I Say I'm Fine?

Living with a chronic condition, such as multiple sclerosis, brings with it a heavy load of emotional, physical, and social challenges. The symptoms alone can be perplexing and are never the same between two people. Lately, there’s one social challenge that has been on my mind—how to respond to the question, “How are you?”
When in a group setting, I almost always respond with “I’m fine,” or “I’m good,” without thinking about it. An upbeat “I’m fine” is automatic. When in a one-on-one setting, I may pause and consider how exactly I want the conversation to go. If I’m with a very close friend, I might expand my response and go into more detail, regardless if the update skews positive or negative.
When talking to my husband, I want to be honest but I also know how much he wants me to feel well. Depending upon what type of support I need at the moment, I might allow my empathy for his feelings to color my response. I don’t like to feel as though I am dumping all my crap on him. But when I need extra support or understanding, I feel safe in sharing what’s really going on and how I feel about it. When I tell my husband “I’m good,” it generally means I feel confident that I can manage things at the moment.
Earlier this summer, I was experiencing increased pain due to knee osteoarthritis and was seeking care from my orthopedic doctor who prescribed a series of injections. My mother-in-law has had her own knee problems, so she felt sympathy for what I was going through. I visited her following one of my knee injections and she asked how I was. My response was a neutral “I’m okay.” Her brow furrowed and she replied, “Not good, then?” “No, I’m doing fine,” I insisted. Her experience colored how she heard my simple words.

Read this post in its entirety:
The Many Shades of I'm Fine

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