Are you okay? I get asked that question a lot, throughout the day, everyday. It really gets exhausting having to always answer “yes, I’m okay.” I get that there are those people who are positive or happy people all the time but I’m not one of them. I’m not saying I’m a sad person, I just don’t show that much emotion throughout the day and it results in someone always asking me “are you okay?” I’m a happy person, I just don’t always show it. It is exhausting for me to have to show that I’m happy all the time. It takes extra effort for me to do that. Maybe I’m this way because of what’s happened to me in the past. I wasn’t allowed to show emotion so I really don’t know how to show it and having to show it 100% of the time is exhausting. If I really am happy, I will show it but for the most part, I’m just a quiet, introverted person with major social anxiety. Okay I admit, maybe I’m a bit too serious sometimes but that’s mainly because of work.
Sadly when I confront the person asking the “are you okay” question, I get a bit of a back lash and they say they are just asking because they care. I know that, but you ask me that question all day, everyday. It does get tiring hearing it over and over and it makes it seem like there is something wrong with me. I feel like I have to explain to people that I’m just that way, so don’t ask me if I’m okay all the time. Can’t you just leave me be? And to add to that, I’m not making excuses, my meds mellow me out. I’m on mood stabilizers. So if I am out with friends or family all day and I all of a sudden become quiet, it’s because it just happens. I don’t do it on purpose. I don’t even realize that I’m doing it until someone says something. Sometimes, if I catch myself, I will shake it off and bounce back into the conversation.
How about asking me “how are you?” instead? At least with that question, you can strike up a conversation versus a simple “yes, I’m okay.” How are you is a more meaningful question and it implies that the person really cares and would want to know what might be going on in your life. Anyone can say that they are okay even when they are not. They just say that to avoid talking about what is actually going on with them. Believe me, I know! Because I do it too. I’m a very private person and I only talk about what’s really going on with me to certain people. Even when I am asked “how are you,” I am mindful of the things I say to that person if they are not in my circle.
Having this mental illness has been a challenge and an ongoing learning curve. Some things happen randomly without notice and some things I know I have and I deal with it accordingly. I’m not using my mental illness as an excuse for the things that happen but some of those things come with the territory. It’s really hard having to explain that to every single person that I come into contact with or develop any type of relationship with. It’s not anyone’s fault, it is what it is, but it’s not something that you can eventually get used to, it never is the same thing the next time around. It’s a never ending roller coaster. I guess you just have to roll with the punches. Like I said before, there is no manual for mental illness.
So if you are asking me “Are you okay?” my answer is “Yes, I’m okay. “