When I was a kid, I was terrified of lying. I never lied to my parents, at least not on purpose. Sometimes, I would “accidentally” lie (i.e. forget a bit of information from a story). As soon as I remembered whatever it was I forgot, I would then freak out and apologize for “lying.” But now, I’ve realized, I lie all the time. I still don’t lie on purpose. The lie just comes out. It’s the same lie over and over again. I use this lie so often, I named my blog after it.
“Are you okay?”
t otally not fine but I want to avoid talking about it.“
Why do I use this lie so often? Why have I become the master of hiding my panic attacks? Why don’t I openly tell you when I’m not fine? It’s not because you’re untrustworthy or because I don’t want to open up. There are a few reasons I don’t always tell the truth, and you should know why.
1. I don’t want to be “that person.”
Earlier this week, I spoke to a friend who suffers from anxiety and we talked about being “that person.” I don’t want to be your friend who complains about myself every time we talk or hang out. I don’t want to be that person you actively avoid asking “how are you” because you’re worried about my response. I don’t want to be “the anxious one,” I don’t want to be “the worry wart,” I don’t want to be “that person.”
2. I don’t want you to feel sorry for me.
I have been this way my whole life, and as much as it sucks sometimes, it’s the only life I’ve known. You don’t need to feel sorry for me. If I was truly honest every time you asked “how are you?” I would never give a positive answer. I live with daily, chronic pain and severe anxiety, so yeah, most of the time I am not “okay” in the traditional sense. But still, I don’t want pity or attention. This is the reality of my life and I’ve come to terms with it. So in that sense, I am okay.
3. I don’t want to talk about myself or my anxiety all the time.
Sometimes, I just tell you I’m fine because I don’t want to talk about my problems anymore. I see doctors, therapists, and counsellors often enough to work through my issues and sometimes, I need a break from myself! I would much rather hear about what’s going on with you than talk through my problems with yet another person. When I need to talk about my mental health, I (thankfully) have a ton of outlets. When I’m with friends and family, I sometimes just don’t want to talk about me anymore.
I think the truth is, almost everyone “lies” in response to the question “how are you?” That question is really just a formality. The thing is, I am so happy to know that there are people in my life that, if I choose to, I can answer that questions honestly. I can tell them that I haven’t been well, or that things have been tough, or that my mental health has been declining.
I hope that you have someone you can be honest with. I have struggled with my anxiety long enough to know when I need to stop lying and reach out – but not everyone has. If you need help, don’t give the robotic “I’m fine” when someone you trust asks “how are you?”
And to all my friends, family, and even followers – if you need someone to openly listen to why you’re not fine, I’m always here for you.