Friday 12 February 2016

The “How Are You?” Menu

When you ask me the seemingly simple question “How are you?” I have no simple answer. I find myself boiling down my three complicated, chronic, incurable illnesses to mood, fatigue, and pain to make it easier for you to deal with.

Sometimes I reply FINE. This is an acronym for Fucked up, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional. That way I can be gracious, and honest. The last thing I want to incur is worry, and upset you, because then I would have to take care of you. I have little energy for that. Over twenty years’ experience has taught me that over and over and over.

Understanding the insides of invisible illness is not for the faint hearted. Perhaps the following will help bring some clarity and understanding.

Here is the menu. Use it like a food menu where you pick and choose what you would like to have accompany you in your day. Know that not only is every day different, but these symptoms can change in a flash. Remember those of us who are sick don’t have a choice.

Choose your symptoms from the following links. We suggest three for each condition but you are free to overachieve. Perhaps your every meal could be a new symptom. Be creative!

Bipolar disorder ~ 16 symptoms.
Chronic fatigue syndrome ~ 17 symptoms.
Fibromyalgia ~ 16 symptoms.

Spend a week with various symptoms by choosing different ones day-to-day. You could set alerts so you don’t forget which symptoms you have.

At the end of the week, maybe you will feel competent answering someone who asks “How are you?” If not, you are not alone. Those actually living with these conditions have an even harder time because of our weakened condition.

Oh, and I haven’t even talked about medication side effects. Oh, and how about the “Hope you are well” sentiment?

Perhaps next time someone asks “How are you,” my reply will be “Living the Dream.” But I am too tired now to go down those roads. Time for a nap. Will I feel rested? There is a very good chance I will not.



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