As I’ve been dealing with a depressive relapse for the past couple of months, I’ve begun to notice how many times I answer the question “How are you?” in some variation or another. And then I realized how many of those times I’m lying.
But, what else am I supposed to do? People don’t want to hear that you’re bad, struggling, upset, in debt, lost, confused, or just plain broken. The most negative answer they’ll take is “tired” or “ok” and even that is just not true sometimes. I can’t count the number of times I’ve said “Good!” when in reality I’m overwhelmed and discouraged.
I say all of this but I’m not sure how I’d feel about an acquaintance of mine saying “You know, not great.” As someone who is about as empathetic as a toaster (maybe even less than), I’d be clueless as to how to respond beyond “I’m sorry” and maybe if I’m feeling a little braver “Can I pray for you?”
So, how do we address this situation of societal dishonesty? I don’t have the answer. And I wish I did. Just as someone who keeps using “tired” as a descriptive word for very very, not ok. Though, here’s some encouragement. No one is ever really 100% ok. So, don’t settle for that answer. If you’re close with someone, try to get past that easy answer they throw out to get you off their chest.
80% of the time they’ll deny anything and you’ll just have to accept their decision. Though, for that 20%, it’ll be worth it. As long as they know they don’t have to lie and you’re willing to listen.