“How are you?” is the question I despise the most when I am in the midst of a depressive or manic episode. I understand people mean well. And I feel terrible for saying this because I don’t want people to think that I am ungrateful that they’ve expressed concern for me, but the question is a constant reminder that I am not doing well. It is one of the many reasons I will not respond to a text message that says those three simple words, how are you?
I am very vocal about my mental health challenges as I share it on social media, wrote a book on my life, have a mental health podcast, and give plenty of presentations and speeches on my journey. I attend therapy twice a week, so talking about my current struggles is not the problem. While talking is therapeutic, there are times I do not want to talk about anything. Some people say things to make an episode worse and others can’t handle a conversation about suicide, so I don’t engage. Sometimes, I don’t want to act on my thoughts. I need a safe space to talk about it; I limit suicide conversations to my therapist and the few friends who can handle it.
I communicate with my support system that I feel best supported when someone comes to my house and watches a movie with me, cooks for me, helps me clean, and reminds me that my life matters. If I have the energy to drive, I am open to spending the night with someone, so I am not alone. There are some days I haven’t left my bed to eat or shower, and leaving home is not always an option. I feel valued when people go the extra mile to show they care. A person’s presence is good enough for me. Don’t try to fix me or feel bad for me; show up and be there.