I used to volunteer in a mental health organisation. Most people were very honest about their feelings. And if you asked somebody how they were, you would get a real answer. I was used to it, but when someone new would visit, they were often taken aback at the openness. This brings up an interesting point. When we say we are fine, it’s a knee jerk reaction. Fine is polite, it’s what you say when someone enquires about your health and happiness. But why is that? What are we really saying when we answer fine? Why is a matter of manners? Well, today I’m going to make some suggestions. Let me know if it sounds familiar. We are going to look at hidradenitis suppurativa and wellbeing, and how we talk about it in this article.
I Don’t Want to Bother You
I think this is the most common reason we say fine. We don’t want to burden others with our troubles. Or bring them down, even if we need a listening ear. Maybe we see talking about feelings as weak. We don’t want to come across as complaining or unable to handle things. When I ask a person how they are, I can accept whatever their answer will be. I want my friends to be comfortable with being honest. And I would hate to think that they don’t want to bother me. I bet you feel the same about yours.
But I also understand that a person only has so much headspace for other’s problems. If you want to answer, ask if they are okay for a chat. And don’t take it as rejection if they aren’t, they are looking after themselves.
You Wouldn’t Understand
I sometimes think that when we say we are fine, it’s so we don’t have to talk about how we feel. Sometimes we think our friends and loved ones wouldn’t understand or think we are being silly. For myself, I find that to be true when it comes to my HS flare-ups because I’m the only person in my support system with HS.
However, HS may be uncommon in my social circle, but other chronic illnesses and challenges are not. A person does not have to experience your exact symptoms to understand that you don’t feel well. One of the things I like most about the internet is the access we have to people from all around the world. I want to think that none of us have problems so unique that nobody else has experienced them. So if you need to talk to a peer, someone out there must have a solution. Hidradenitis Suppurativa and wellbeing can be discussed with your peers in person and online.
I Don’t Know How to Talk About it
A strange side effect of emotions is that while we have felt something, we don’t always know how to verbalise it. If you find that this happens to you often, there are things you can do. Talking about emotions takes practise for some people. Try keeping a journal. If you can’t talk to others, getting your feelings out on paper is the next best thing. As well as that, online, you can find charts of emotions. Find one and stick it in the inside of your journal. Recognising our emotions is essential because it helps us identify what we need.
You Don’t Care
We instinctively know that “how are you” is a greeting as opposed to a question. We interpret the question as the other person doesn’t want to know. They are asking to be polite. In the case of the checkout operator, you bought milk from this morning, that’s true. But what about your friend who comes to visit? You might be fine, or you might not be. Rather you are fine sometimes but not as many times as you say you are. Next time you are not fine, try saying so. You’re loved ones do want to know how you are doing. And you may feel better talking about it.
Of course, you don’t have to. None of this is to say you always want to talk about your feelings. You may want to keep them to yourself. Perhaps it’s part of your processing method. That’s okay too.
Hidradenitis Suppurativa and Wellbeing, How are you really?
So, the question now is, how are you really? If you are reading this on the HidraWear blog, you have HS. Chronic illness can be constant, and you may not always want to talk about it. If you don’t want to talk to others, here are some simple self-care tips for how to feel fine.
- If you need alone-time, take it. What is it they say? “Silence is golden.”
- Write it down. Even if you decide journaling isn’t for you, write it down anyway.
- Say it out loud. Talking to yourself isn’t a sign of madness. It’s just vocalising our thoughts.
- Check-in with your basic needs. When did you last eat or drink water last? Did you get enough sleep? Or would you benefit from a walk to stretch your legs?
These tips are some I learned from the organisation I mentioned in the beginning. In my posts, I talk a lot about social support. And interacting with others is indeed essential to our wellbeing. But It’s not always easy.
Remember, if someone cares about you and they ask you how you are, they probably want to know. If you are unsure ask. You are not a burden. Others can understand what you are going through. And if you can’t verbalise it or don’t want to talk about it yet, that’s okay. Take care of yourself.
About the Author
Shannon Sweeney is a psychology and sociology student from Ireland. She is also living with HS and has a keen interest in lifestyle, wellbeing, and Hidradenitis Suppurativa.