How Are You?
Three words that I am terrified to answer on any given day and yet I always do with, “Good, and you?”.
Saying anything but good leads to the question of “why”and, to be utterly honest, I don’t want to say the real reason because I am afraid. Afraid of judgement.
Why? Because the reason is almost always depression.
There are nights I cry myself to sleep, and I don’t know why I am crying (which makes me want to cry more). Other days I wake up not wanting to do anything but lay in bed — this can also be used to describe yesterday.
Yesterday morning, my alarm rang and as I reached for my phone I thought “not again”, because I knew it was going to be a struggle to get up. I didn’t want to move, I wish it was still night time so I had a reason to stay in bed a little longer. After the 5 min snooze, my alarm went off again.
I had to be at work in 40 minutes but I couldn’t get myself out of bed. So, I picked up my phone hoping that checking my emails would encourage me to get to work. However I ended up lying in bed for 12 minutes opening one app after the next — not even checking anything, just opening the app and going to the home screen to open the next one, then closing them all and repeat.
Soon I realised I have to be at work in 28 minutes. It takes me 17 minutes to get from my front door to work so I had no choice but to drag myself out of bed and get ready.
I rushed out of my front door with just under 15 minutes in hand.
On my way to work, I search my memory for a reason or a trigger but I failed to find one, again.
As I was run-walking into work, someone commented how I looked stressed. NO! I’m not stressed! You saying this is stressing me out ‘cause now I have to smile and act as though today morning was such a breeze and I’m late because I just ‘overslept’.
Its hard to describe the feeling of being depressed because it is not the same feeling as sadness. But, its even worse having to answer why I am depressed. No one ever asks me why I have the flu, then why does my depression need a reason which you can understand.
“Depression isn’t a straightforward response to a bad situation; depression just is, like the weather.” — Stephen Fry
So, what I am trying to say is, I am not good. And there are people around you who may not be ‘good’, ‘fine’, or ‘well’.
The alternative is to get to know the person. Ask them about a activity they did, their thoughts on something in the news, or how they are finding a book they are reading.
Obviously a lot of times this requires some background knowledge on the person, and sometimes it may also lead to one word answers. But, it is a way for you to create a understanding that you are there for each other beyond a question you asking because you are seeing them for the first time that day.
The aim is to have a safe space that opens conversations to bigger things by being there for a few extra minutes. Such conversations can help lift the dark cloud and let some light in to the depressed feeling.
I personally would much prefer this than a reminder of the fact that I may not be feeling good. Because, “How are you” does not show that you really care.