What I Mean When I Say "I'm Fine"
"I'm fine" is something that we say often in daily conversations we have with other people asking us how we are doing. Now, I’m not saying that I reply with, “I’m fine” to everyone who asks, but there are some people who ask more out of being polite than actually wanting to get into a conversation about it all.
My MS affects me every day
Because in all honesty, what does “I’m fine” mean to us? To me, it means I’m having an ‘okay’ day. Is my MS still bothering me? Yes, it bothers me every day, but it just depends on how much it is bothering me that day. So, if it’s a day that is what I would call ‘normal’ (for me), yeah, I will reply with “I’m fine.” Let's face it: we are never completely fine; at least, I'm not. I deal with multiple MS symptoms every day; it just depends on how severe they are.
Explaining how I'm feeling in detail would be exhausting
But in actuality, when someone is asking us how we’re doing, I think that's more of a, “Hey, what’s going on with you?” not a, “Hey, how’s your MS today?” It would be exhausting to tell everyone how we are feeling in detail every single time they asked anyway. I know that some people wouldn’t understand everything that I even explain, and it would tire me out to hear everything that is going on with me every single day. I already deal with it; I don’t like to voice it every day, too.
Being honest at the doctor's office
So, I think that’s why the phrase, “I’m fine,” has become one of our most common phrases. Now, I don’t use it when I’m seeing a doctor, etc. I let them know what’s going on, because that’s where we can address anything that needs to be addressed, change a medication, etc.
We're not trying to blow you off
I don’t want people who actually want to know how we're doing to take the “I’m fine” as a blow-off comment either. If we know that you actually want to know, or if we usually discuss how our MS is, maybe this time when you ask we are just having a hard day or something and just don’t want to voice everything that we’re going through. So, please don’t be offended if you hear, “I’m fine”.
I think that we do, at times, use that phrase as a mechanism to see who actually does care. Because for those people who actually do care, or know us better than that, they will try to show their support, despite us telling you we are fine. I will text my best friend, asking her how she is doing, and she will say, “I’m fine” (she has MS by the way). I will respond, “Yeah, and I’m a Victoria Secrets model - how are you really?” Because I know she is just saying it to not complain to me, because we know that we each have a lot going on with our own lives, but what are friends for anyway? But I always interject some humor into my commentary when she tries to tell me she is ‘fine’.
I say "I'm fine" automatically
I’m not trying to be complicated for anyone when I say, “I’m fine.” I think I say it at times out of routine rather than really thinking about my answer. It’s kind of like you say 'Hello,' 'Goodbye,' 'How are you?' 'Love you,' and 'I’m fine' is in my common phrase vocabulary. I can say it without even realizing I’m saying it. So, please don’t take offense to me responding that way either.
Filtering out who can handle my truth
I have also used it in a way to ‘filter’ out the people who actually WANT to know the truth of how I’m doing versus those who are doing it just to be polite. I’m not trying to be rude and ‘test’ friends, but I’m trying to make it easier on all of my relationships. It's so that I’m not overwhelming someone with how I’m feeling when they may not be able to really handle my answer at that time. I get that.
Am I making any sense to y’all? Or am I just rambling? It’s hard to explain what I define as, “I’m fine” because if I was being completely honest, I’m not fine. I don’t have days where I’m not bothered at all by something that my MS has caused. Kind of like I explained in my recent article, “Is Your MS Bothering You Today?”
Sometimes, I just don't want to talk at all
I love talking about MS and advocating for those with it. But I have days where I just don’t want to talk to anyone. And I’m not trying to be rude or anything, I just get in certain moods where I like peace and quiet, on the outside at least. Because my brain never shuts up – so I have no peace from it, obviously! When I’m in these moods, I tell people I’m fine when they ask what is wrong. And that’s the truth, at least in the way they are asking the question. They are asking it thinking I’m upset or mad, but I’m not. I just get in these moods where I like to be quiet, and I don’t want to socialize. It’s weird, but it helps me. I can do things I want to do instead of worrying about socializing. I can just sit here and play games, or read, or something. I know I’m probably not alone on that feeling either.
Anyway, this is how I would define the phrase, “I’m fine.” Because there can’t be a single explanation and/or definition for the phrase, because it varies from person to person, and in different situations as well.
Do you find yourself saying, "I'm fine?" Share what you mean when you say this below!
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. We want to check in. How are you feeling?