The Question “How are you feeling?” And The Mixed Feelings It Can Cause

The Question “How are you feeling?” And The Mixed Feelings It Can Cause

If there is one question that those with a chronic illness like multiple sclerosis hear a lot, it’s “How are you feeling?” or some variation of it. It may seem like something so simple, so common, but it’s something that stirs up mixed emotions for someone like me. At times, it can be an extremely positive measure, that I’m very thankful for. However, other times, it can leave me feeling a little down depending on the circumstances. Regardless of how it makes you feel, it’s a question you are going to encounter often and it’s good to be prepared to hear it.

Having someone ask how you are feeling is a good thing. It shows they care and are concerned. It shows they realize that you have an issue and that you probably don’t feel great much of the time. At the very least, it shows some level of interest and knowledge about you, even if it’s just small talk. I hear it a lot, it’s often one of the first things that people say to me when they see me. I’m fairly open about my struggles with MS, so it makes sense. I’m very happy that they recognize I have issues, even if I don’t look like I have anything wrong with me.

So if it’s such a good thing, what’s the problem? Well, I get asked it a lot, at least once or twice a day, and I imagine it’d be a lot more if I weren’t on disability (and so don’t get to leave the house often). Still, that’s great right? People caring about you is great! Except, I get the question so much, I start to feel like that is all people think about me. There is Devin, who has multiple sclerosis. It feels like it’s what defines me. For many people, I suppose it is. Now, of course, I write about my MS and share what I write and people ask me questions and I’m always willing to talk about it. I want to talk about it, I’ve chosen this. I’ve decided to use my experience with the disease to try to help others by spreading awareness any way I can. The thing is, I was getting asked about how I was feeling way before I started writing. I’m sure many of my readers get it often and that’s what I want to address here, how that may make many people feel.

In the days before I was as open and vocal about my MS, the days before I wrote about it, when someone would ask me how I was feeling, I’d have such mixed feelings. A big reason for that, I think, is that I know it’s just conversation, small talk. Sure, sometimes the person genuinely wanted to know, but I often wondered if they were really genuinely ready for a true response. Like many of us, I would (ok, I still do this), not be entirely truthful about it. I’d give the old, “oh, pretty good” or at most I’d say something along the lines of “oh you know, good days and bad days”. Basically a short, polite answer to further the conversation and find a new topic. Truth is though, every time I’ve been asked, I do for a brief second think about all the issues, all the falls, and all the pain. I think to myself, wow, what a loaded question it is to ask someone like me how I’ve been feeling.

Aside from me usually just trying to be polite, I feel like there were times where I probably turned bright red because I felt a bit embarrassed. As I mentioned before, I don’t want to be thought of as just my diagnosis. Just the guy with MS. No one with a chronic illness wants that. I admit, I’ve probably given all of this way too much thought. It’s just conversation, small talk even. It may sound crazy, but I have even felt bad by just giving a “pretty good” response because I knew it was a lie. Not only because it was a lie, but because I desperately wanted to tell someone. I wanted to talk about how rough it had been, I wanted to talk about the pain, the many falls, the crippling fatigue, and the brain fog.

So what changed for me? Well, I do still occasionally have mixed feelings when asked how I’ve been feeling, but then I remember that some people do really want to know. I also try to recognize when it’s just conversation and accept that. I have tried to be more open about it, because as I’ve said, I’ve realized that MS is a part of me, not all of me, but a not insignificant part, and that’s OK. A big help for me has been connecting with other MS Warriors though. Communicating with other folks who share similar problems has helped me because it’s given me a chance to talk about it with people that truly understand. I can’t overstate how important that is to me (although, it is not always easy to do).

With everything I write, I always know there is a chance I’m the only one who’s had these thoughts. As I have found out though, there are usually many folks out there that have felt the same way I have, and I’m sure that’s true this time too. So I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this. Do you have positive, negative, or even just mixed feelings when someone asks you how you are feeling? Regardless of how you feel, I always love to see everyone’s perspective, so feel free to comment and join in the conversation!

Thanks for reading,

Devin

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (65)
  • Bettybeem
    1 year ago

    You’re right. That question still is tough after over 25 years. Initially, I always said fine as I was a full time academically advanced gifted and talented teacher as I was in the closet knowing that the parents would request my removal from the classroom. Once I moved to Houston, I had to learn who really cared and who just wanted to hear the pat answer. Sometimes the setting is still a factor. There are times when those who care ask in a setting that is no condusive to an honest response. Many times it’s just a social setting question, knee jerk, environment. “Fine” is the automatic response.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    1 year ago

    Thank you Bettybeem! Very much appreciate you sharing your experience. I think you are right, the social setting is such big part of it. Though it can feel tough for me to not want to really explain how I’m doing!

  • wobbles
    2 years ago

    Hi all, I am new to this, recently diagnosed. I have three main physical symptoms: fatigue, unsteadiness, and dizziness.

    My coping mechanism with this diagnosis and preferred approach to this question is humor. When asked how am I feeling I respond with quips based reality. My favorite symptom descriptions:

    * I feel like a man in size 12 heels walking on the stairs.
    * I feel like I just rode the merry-go-round and it was going too fast.
    * I feel like I have had the flu for a month.

  • DonnaFA moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi Wobbles, you’re not alone. Fatigue is a symptom that is often described as the most distressing. You might be interested in a few of the other articles on the site:

    Management of Fatigue
    A Few Thoughts for the Newly Diagnosed
    Advice for Newly Diagnosed from Someone Who Cares

    Thanks for being part of the community. -All Best, Donna (MultipleSclerosis.net team)

  • tfs
    2 years ago

    I always love reading your blog, Devin. I live in Canada, and there is a great comedian, Rick Mercer, who did a rant about the question, “How are you?” The conclusion of his rant was simply put as… it’s just polite. You don’t need to go into it. I don’t really need to know all that. However, as someone else pointed out, the question is “How are you feeling today?” I think it is a big difference, and sometimes I am guarded,annoyed and irritated – very infrequently do I appreciate the question in a casual social setting. Some days emotions are running high (or low) and I correctly determine that it is not a question I respect. My go to answer is: I’m good. I’m still walking – still driving. That ends that. Who knows what I will answer if/when mobility worsens. I am a work in progress. I think it is best to do no harm and remind myself the irriation is best served by questioning my inner self – How Important is this? And Let it Go. People are innocent.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thank you tfs! Always appreciate hearing your thoughts!

  • MarveleeC
    2 years ago

    Devin, I thought your article was very insightful. When people ask me how I’m feeling, I say, “I’m in excellent health, except for the MS!” Some folks may say it is a little flippant, but it works for me. It generally gets a bit of a laugh, If the person asking is just being polite, they laugh and go on. If, it is someone who really cares, they something like, ” I really mean it, How are you feeling?” Then I’m free to share details of the challenges of having MS. Marvelee C.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thanks MarveleeC! That’s a pretty good response! I’ve used a similar one at times, saying something like “I’m good, except for that whole incurable disease thing” I admit, I do sometimes have a little too much fun with it!

  • Nancy W
    2 years ago

    So we have Nancy W (Me) and Nancy W. (someone else) Seems there are too many Nancy W in this world. Hello to the other one. !!

  • LuvMyDog
    2 years ago

    I don’t log on all that often but when I do I always enjoy your posts.

    The majority of my old friends, my real friends, are gone now, very few people ever say to me, “how are you feeling”.
    When I get an email or a call from the three remaining friends they will usually ask, “how are you doing” or “how have you been”, depending on how long it’s been since we last communicated.
    I try to keep my answers short, but always honest.
    I am a brutally honest person, I tell it like it is whether people like it or not, and most I’ve found, are not as fond of the truth as I am.

    One thing that really annoys me is someone in the grocery store or the bank or wherever who looks at me with my usual un-smiling face and says something like, “Awww, it can’t be that bad, SMILE!!”
    They are usually sorry they did that because I will tell them exactly why I don’t have a smile pasted on my face and think that the world is a bowl of cherries!

    MS has been a part of my life for 35 years now. In the beginning, when I was young, I’d feel crappy off and on but determined to kick a*s and get back to the real world which I always did.
    As time went on, years passed, age, arthritis, back surgeries, gut problems, etc…added to the whole mix and made life pretty miserable a good deal of the time.
    The only thing that kept me fairly sane and gave me a reason to get up in the morning, my beautiful dogs.

    My last little dog died suddenly in October of this year and I fell into a very deep depression, I saw no reason to get up in the morning and the stress brought on an attack of horrific fatigue, dizziness, pain, I thought I was going to die. I have never felt that bad before.

    After two weeks of this I had to go out to the grocery store for a few items even though I had not been eating very much.
    At the check-out, a young woman was bagging and she looked at me and said, “How are you doing today?”
    I said, “not that good” and hoped she’d leave it at that.
    But no, she felt she had to try and be the smiling customer service representative and get a smile out of everyone.
    She tried again…”oh why, the weather getting to you, you don’t like the cold?”
    I said, “no”

    Pushing the subject she went on….”well, you’ll have a happy thanksgiving won’t you?”
    At that point I gave her a very serious and not-so-friendly look and said, “NO I WON’T, THERE’S BEEN A DEATH IN MY HOME, THERE WILL BE NOTHING HAPPY OR MERRY AND NOT EVERYONE FEELS LIKE SMILING CONSTANTLY!!!”
    With that, she looked a little sheepish and said, “sorry, I didn’t know.”

    Of course she didn’t know, we don’t know each other. She sees me in the store a few times a month but has no idea what goes on in my life.
    But that still doesn’t let her off the hook.
    What this incident should be to her, a lesson. A lesson that I learned way back in the 70’s when I had started work in a large commercial bank.

    The manager was tough, ex-military, ran the branch like a military base. We were taught to smile no matter what, learn the names of every customer who walked through the doors, greet them by name and make them feel welcome, always say thank you, happy to see you, come back in soon.

    One bright sunny morning an older man came in and needed help with paying off an auto loan. I put on my cheerful face and proceeded to take the payment and give him his receipts.

    During, I looked at him and said, “smile, it’s a bright sunny day!”
    He nodded, gave a half-hearted smile and went back to looking down at the paperwork, not really seeing it.

    Determined to be that perfect employee I smiled and said, “don’t look so miserable, it’s a lovely day, the weather is suppose to improve even more by tomorrow.”

    He looked up at me and said, “sorry, I don’t feel much like smiling, my wife just died two hours ago, maybe if you were older and had ever suffered any pain in your life, you might be more careful what you say to a perfect stranger!”

    I said the same thing that girl in the grocery store said, “sorry, I didn’t know.”

    Of course I didn’t know…I didn’t really know him or anything about his personal life.

    That was a big lesson for me. I never did that again. I always chose my words carefully after that, never assuming that someone “should” be having a good day and a wonderful life.

    The same goes for people saying, “how are you feeling?” or “how are you today?”
    Do they REALLY want to know? Or is it something too many in society habitually say to people they don’t even know just to have something to say?

    I never say those words to anyone that I don’t know and much of the time rarely ask that question right off the bat to my friends. I figure if it’s something they want to tell me, that’s their decision, other than that, it’s none of my business.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thank you itasara. I completely understand how overwhelming it can all feel. I feel crushed at times if I think about everything too much. Also, like you, I find I, particularity lately, have been retreating a lot as well. Not willing to go out or seek other people out. Not even not willing, more like not caring to. My wife is always encouraging though and eventually I break down and do seek out a friend and enjoy myself. It’s hard to get past that hump but when we do, it’s worth it.

    As far as my little girl Penny is concerned, I am still heart broken. I have though just adopted a new guy. I feel it’s what she’d want. I kinda of looked for a guy who I thought probably wouldn’t have a high chance of being adopted. I found a great little 12 year old Dachshund who’es had a rough life. He only has 2 teeth and a hole in face (from an abscess tooth at some point). He moves a bit slower than most pups but I move much slower than most humans. We’ve both taken our hits in life so I feel like it’s a perfect match!

  • itasara
    2 years ago

    It is always difficult for me to know what to say.. we try to be nice and cordial and it doesn’t always have the results we thought. But we are human and we try our best. My dogs and cats have passed away in the last couple years. I still think especially of my dog who was such a part of us. I have no pets now but can’t even think about it now, but there is the emptiness I feel most of the time.

    Socially, I feel pretty good about my health and I have been so far fortunate, but I am in a place where I don’t go out of my way to connect with people other than on the computer and so I have retreated and vice verse from friends. And that is the crux of the matter.. not sitting around for people to contact me. But it is effort for me. I have also become very disorganized and can’t yet get our house in order and cleaned up, so I am reluctant to have anyone over without much apologetic behavior. I want to do it, but can’t. Last night I wanted to see an opera movie and no one at my house wanted to go, so my husband suggested an opera buff friend of mine. She was so happy I called and we had a great time!!

    I have other members in and out of my house- adult children- with problems and this complicates our lives as well. So to answer the question how do I feel? It isn’t just me it is my whole environment. I can put a lot on my brain’s back burner but it doesn’t make my situation to the point of enjoying life not to mention that I find getting older rather depressing.. What is this about enjoying one’s golden years? Too many worries to really do that.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thank you for your comments LuvMyDog. I’m am sorry for your loss. I’ve been delayed answering comments because I too recently lost my pup Penny (the one I’ve written about here). I can honestly say it’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. She was, without a doubt, my very best friend. I am still realling from it all. So I very much understand how you feel. Thank you for taking the time to share.

  • pmdpeace
    2 years ago

    Dear LuvMyDog,
    I’m so sorry about your dog’s death. My dog died suddenly in February. Dogs are our unconditionally loyal, loving, faithful family!
    Sincerely, pmdpeace

  • Nancy W
    2 years ago

    When I was working, I worked at an eye doctors office. I think one of my best attributes was being able to connect with people, however they were feeling. I never tried to tell them to feel better. If someone feels down, I would just let them talk, (or not) Seems, even if people are feeling awful, they appreciate someone who wants to connect. I have had people tell me they appreciate that I was not trying to change them. Many people who are feeling down feel lonely.

    With that, I am sorry to hear you are feeling down after the loss of your dog.

  • Lisa
    2 years ago

    Wow! I was just having almost exactly these thoughts today. You have stated so clearly all the thoughts I was having. Mostly people who ask me “how are you?” is a different group then the people who ask “How are you feeling?” the first group are just making polite conversation that latter group know I have MS and really do want to know. It’s a subtle difference, but it’s pretty obvious. With the first group, I usually give the throw away answer, like “oh, not bad” followed quickly by “how about you?” With those that do know (my MS is pretty invisible) I will give a more detailed answer.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thank you Lisa! That’s difference is subtle but very important. I’d say that’s pretty much how I am too. I can tell when it’s small talk and when they genuinely want to know. I do admit that occasionally I’m not sure. Thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts, very appreciated!

  • Scottanadrill
    2 years ago

    I have the same problem. People know there’s a problem because I use a walker. But otherwise I look fine. They don’t know about the internal turmoil that I have every day. So for most people I keep it light and avoid detailed descriptions.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thanks for sharing jennybrownlee4@hotmail.com! It certainly is a common thing for many of us to hear!

  • jennyb
    2 years ago

    I was just told yesterday that “you looked good” at a certain gathering. She meant well, but I told her that looks can be decieving. I have psoriatic arthritis as well as MS; can’t always tell where one starts and the other picks up. But when I go to a function like she was talking about, I am excited and people think I am fine. The 4 wheeled walker is a dead giveaway though.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thank you Scottanadrill!

  • cuzimkylieduh
    2 years ago

    I was asked “how’s it going?” today as just a small talk thing and I have such a hard time sometimes saying “good” if I’m kind of meh or even bad. Today is one of those days where by 3pm I was way struggling to keep my eyes open, but are you supposed to be saying that to your supervisor? Probably not. When I pause after being asked I’m usually going through that whole debate in my head like you said. Sometimes it just easier to give a BS answer.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thank you cuzimkylieduh, I have certainly given my fare share of BS answers. Few people ever really want the truth, but few people also realize just how loaded of a question it can be for us.

    I sympathize, I am usually mush by 3pm, afternoons are the absolute worst time for me!

  • Richard
    2 years ago

    I really enjoy your articles. I am 60 and diagnosed in 2013. Most people ask “how are you doing?” as a polite greeting. In Spanish, it’s “Como esta?” Same answer, “Fine,” or “Bien.” No one is really listening, like 430m7o states. So, don’t expect it. And, even if they are listening, it is impossible for them to comprehend each of our symptoms. My wife, who is totally supportive, still cannot comprehend what our fatigue is compared to normal fatigue that can be enjoyable.

    Before I knew I had MS I enjoyed a fairly normal life. I could play ball with the kids, ride motorcycles, run a business, etc. Now, I tell the family I am “afflicted”. That can mean I am exhausted to start with, or brain fog just hit me, or my feet are in pain or cold or hot or whatever. They just know to leave me alone for a while.

    We who are blessed with the joys of MS need to realize that others cannot understand what we are trying to explain. If our doctor doesn’t have MS, they are guessing at what we are trying to describe.

    I cannot empathize perfectly with a person with one leg. He or she experiences physical and mental issues I try to imagine but, cannot perfectly understand. I have empathy with his disability. He does for mine. We can only try to comprehend our mutual feelings.

    One of my symptoms is rambling so I want to conclude with thank you for your insights that help me every time I read them.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thank you Richard, you are absolutely right. Unless you experience it, you truly can’t comprehend what it is like. That’s just one reason I love to encourage comments and discussions with my articles. I tend to through my experience out there with the hopes that others will join. Together, even thought we may never meet in person, we can help each other feel less alone. It’s incredibly comforting to me, when I see, and realize that someone else really does understand what I’m going through. Thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts.

  • DonnaFA moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi Richard! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and for being part of our community! We’re glad that you enjoy the articles and enjoy being part of the family. -All Best, Donna (MultipleSclerosis.net team)

  • 43om7o
    2 years ago

    Yes, I got it. At 70, having been diagnosed with MS in 1975, and bent and wobbly and barely ambulatory to my car or hanging onto a shopping cart or walker I get the question a lot. Sometimes I am polite, as you mention Devin, some times, (as the Joker I am) I say something like “With my hands, but not as well as I used to”. I have this need sometimes, or at least a desire, for someone to take some real interest in my response, but have not found too many who want to do that. My usual response goes something like “I’m making it” or “I’m here”. Interesting thing I have found from many that have “listened” to me is that some time later I may share with them again and to my dismay their response is “Oh I didn’t realize that…” I am not though very driven to get people to understand me but I do have this desire to understand others. I get the idea that this helps me to not be upset over others questioning. One of my thoughts is that one doesn’t have to be crazy to be my friend…But…It helps…

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thank you 43om7o! I certainly think you and I have some similar humor about things! Thanks for readying and sharing your thoughts, I really appreciate it and I know other readers do too!

  • corgi9
    2 years ago

    I was dx’d 38 years ago and am now 69 years old and so when I am asked (if it is not another MSer) I just say something to the effect of OK or “better than the alternative”….and at my age all my friends are dealing with something….hips…knees…cancer…etc…so when I ask them how they are feeling they probably feel the same way that we feel when asked. The article is great because WE can all relate to it.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thank you corgi9! I really appreciate that!

  • 43om7o
    2 years ago

    Wow! God bless. I was dx’d in ’76 and find that so many who have some contact with folk with MS are so very surprised that I am still ablet to do what I do..esp. at age 70.

  • RossB
    2 years ago

    Great article Devin! And I agree with Nancy W in her comments that “so-and-so has MS and is doing so well’! I realize that person is making polite conversation, but it sometimes feels as though they want to add “why aren’t you (doing well)”. It really is a customized disease and is very hard to get anyone to walk a mile in your shoes. I would never wish MS on another person, and please know that I am truly happy for those people living with MS who are thriving in their livelihood.
    From here on, I will do my best to be honest with those who ask how I am and appear to truly care. And, if I don’t loose them in the first 30 seconds, will try to educate a little on how different MS is for just about everyone.
    -keep moving!

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thank you RossB! I 100% agree! One of the very worst things someone can do, is compare us to someone else they’ve heard of with MS. It happens to all of us at some point! I try to stress the snowflake nature whenever I can to people because of this! Thanks again for reading and sharing your thoughts!

  • hQpyf7
    2 years ago

    ditto what everyone else commented. i think people are trying to be nice but most don’t want to hear any reply except, “good”. pointless to reply with more than that because they don’t really get it. especially if after a shower you are looking “normal” but feeling rotten on the inside. most, not all but most, do relate you to someone else with ms they know or met. like so n so doesn’t have that or this or dat. i gave up sending links about ms to my family. they always had some excuse for not reading it. i’m sure users here can relate to that. yeah, it helps today to read these comments and reply. glad you brought up the “issue”. 😉

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thank you hQpyf7, I’m glad I brought this up too. I never expected the tremendous response I’ve gotten. It’s clear that this is something that crosses many of our minds! Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts!

    Btw, you mention showering, sorry if you’ve already read it, but I’ve written about my shower issues in the past: https://multiplesclerosis.net/living-with-ms/the-unexpected-perils-of-showering/

  • Nancy W.
    2 years ago

    This article is great and the comments are just what the doctor ordered!!! I, too, get tired of being asked “So, how are you feeling?” It is depressing because all I really hear is pity! And how can anyone with MS adequately answer it truthfully?? I don’t want to be a downer and convey every little swipe MS dishes out, like fatigue, loss of balance, or falls. And while I am happy that “the cousin of the husband of the woman next door is doing so well”, I end feeling like I am a failure for not doing the same. Most people have no idea how different MS is from person to person! Feels great talking about this tho!

  • Nancy W
    2 years ago

    Devin, I look forward to your articles and sometimes want to write a longer post myself.

    Right now, I am dealing with Mental Health issues. So when someone asks me how I’m feeling, I think about how I am feeling emotionally. Physically I’ve been stable for quite a while and it doesn’t enter my mind as much. I really don’t know how to respond when I am feeling down. I think many people are uncomfortable hearing about those issues.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thank you Nancy W. Mental health is every bit as important as physical health, and if someone asks me, I consider that too. Like you say though, that can make people a bit uncomfortable (though I do thing attitudes towards that sort of thing are changing, at least I hope so). It really is nice to see all the comments and see that we all have something in common! Thanks again for sharing!

  • cabotsmom
    2 years ago

    Excellent article. For several years after my diagnosis I was still gainfully employed in the medical profession and my colleagues were always walking on eggshells around me. I guess they didn’t know what to say or how to say it as after all I was one of their own. I tried to make it easy for them. I’d say something like “ok kids not one of my better days so hopefully one of you has my back or today isn’t too bad so let’s try to keep up the pace and I’ll let you know if I feel I am falling behind.” I had hoped that would break the ice. As I became more tired and less able to use my fingers appropriately (yep it mattered a LOT in my line of work) I heard slight “are you ok today or I can take that patient for you if you like.” I know they meant well but what would have been better was to have someone in the know who knew my condition to discuss it with or to complain to or just who I knew understood. Now I am “retired” not by choice and every so often someone will say “how are you?” I have learned to answer with either “not a terrible day or meh but life goes on.” My damned Doctor never asks how I am as in her 8 minutes that she has with me she truly doesn’t care. I’m walking, talking, thinking so to her I am great and I guess I am doing better than some but worse than others. So this is a slippery slope and one that, if given a choice, I would never attempt. But I wasn’t given a choice and on days when I am not feeling my best I just stay put and other days if I am out and about and feel others are watching I just turn to them and say “I’m not drunk I have MS and for me I am doing well so no need to whisper and stare.” It is hard and I do get it and truth be told I absolutely HATE being on the other side as a patient. I feel I have lost my dignity and perhaps most of my zest for life but when it is all said and done most of the people are asking how you feel as they just don’t know how to talk to you about anything else and secretly they are thinking “Thank God that’s not me.” Thanks for the article. Always such a pleasure reading your written word.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thank you cabotsmom! I hear you about the doctors. It feels like they should be the one person actually asking the question but rarely do. It certainly must be an interesting perspective you have, having now been on both sides (medical profession/patient). Thank so much for reading and sharing your thoughts. I write these things and always hope that others will comment and share their experiences too, thank you for that!

  • Gal4travel
    2 years ago

    I totally relate and thank you for you’re article. I have been going through a relapse for the past two months and am so sick of people telling me “well you look good” or “I know how you feel” or one more favorite, “my back hurts too”.
    I am always polite, because that’s who I am, but I feel like I’m wasting my breath if I tell them all the gory details. I look good because it took me three hours to shower, rest… put on a lot of makeup, rest…find something that still fits me, rest…let someone else drive me to be here today …that is taking every ounce of strength to sit here and visit.
    I just want to cry…so I keep it short and tell them “thanks for asking” and same ole same ole.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thank you Gal4travel, so sorry to hear of your recent relapse. I swear, one of the worst thing many of us so often here is that we look so good. I hope that one day people will realize that many of the worst symptoms are invisible. Always remember you have folks here that understand though, you are never alone! Thanks again for reading and sharing your experience, it’s very appreciated!

  • StacyKelsey
    2 years ago

    Just so YOU know I so so enjoy reading your articles. It’s nice to know others have the same issues. I do not like others feeling sorry for me so I always say I’m good. I may not be but I rarely leave the house or talk most of the time it’s texting and I let it go. But on those occasions it hurts cause I feel they just don’t get it. And it’s my fault I know that, cause I lie. But reading your articles help me with understanding their side of things too. Thank you!

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thanks so much StacyKelsey! I very much appreciate it! It’s nice to know that others understand what I’m saying. It’s nice to know we aren’t alone too! 🙂

  • 1weclbc
    2 years ago

    Occasionally I also get asked this question and I am actually feeling pretty good that day and it just reminds me that I have it. Also, MS and it’s symptoms are so hard to describe, it is just easier to say, I’m fine.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thank you 1weclbc, that’s a very good point! It can be a pretty big downer if you are on a roll and having a decent day. That reminder can be a bad trigger.

  • Julie
    2 years ago

    This article was timed perfectly; I’ve been struggling with this lately for some reason. I’ve had MS for 22+ years, and I have been on disability for the past 4 years. I can totally relate to the article and the comments. I have been having some progression since August and I have some really good days but mostly really bad days. I am considering a DMT change soon (which is scary but I think necessary). Normally I don’t have such a prolonged bad time, so I really feel like people don’t want to hear about my struggles anymore. I can kind of understand that people just want to hear positive news especially during the holidays but it does make me feel alone and isolated. This community helps a lot so thank you all for sharing! It’s so nice to communicate with people that really get it!!!

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thank you Julie, I absolutely understand. I too am thankful for this community, one where there are people that really do understand it, really get it. It makes a world of difference, especially this time of year.

  • 1i8jw7v
    2 years ago

    I agree, the question does leave a wave of mixed feelings. It is much easier to give the generic answers than to have to explain why and how you feel the way you do. And in the instance you do share the truth with close friends and family, you feel that way so often it starts to feel they look at you “like a complainer or hypochondriac” because they can’t “see” a physical difference. I know that it’s not the way they truly see me but I can’t make myself fully except that they don’t think it to some degree. I mean how many days and times a day can you respond to the question “how are you feeling”, before the answer “tired” becomes the generic answer in the eyes of the people around you.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    2 years ago

    The invisibility of many of our symptoms certainly make the situation even worse. Their experience with being “tired” is a lot different then ours too. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts, always appreciated!

  • meissie47
    2 years ago

    I’m so glad you wrote on this topic!!!Because Over Bern having this same dilemma. At the time I’m being asked I could be feeling well but hrs later not so much so I’m always at a lost.

    Plus there’s this guilt of every time I’m asked nobody really wants to hear me say I don’t feel well or my issues because they’ve heard it so much.
    Plus I look so well.

    So I end up ignoring phone calls and text when I’m having problems for longer than a day. (If that makes since )

    So I’m really interested to know how others respond to the question.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thanks meissie47! I knew I couldn’t be the only one having mixed feelings about this! Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts!

  • StacyKelsey
    2 years ago

    Right!?!

  • gmc
    2 years ago

    My standard answer is: “it is well with my soul.” That response keeps me from lying.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    2 years ago

    That’s a nice one gmc!

  • Julie
    2 years ago

    I like this a lot!

  • Joelle Buck
    2 years ago

    I am actually in the middle of a exacerbation. I have found myself venting to a few select friends because it seems to help my mind from spinning, but on the other hand I find myself becoming very emotional and I start to spiral into a panic attack. I live alone and when I am sustaining a “normal” streak my response is I am good! I am grateful for the days that are not so good because it helps me embrace my good days… In other words ,I have been known to say I have really really good days ,and I have really really bad days. I would like to hope for a little more balance on the swinging pendulum!!! That is my goal for this coming year.
    I also find myself trying to explain in detail what it is I am feeling, as if to have a non MS person could somehow understand?!!!! What a joke …I laugh , I cry, I fake a smile here and there, and sometimes I pray to God for s distraction to interrupt the viscous cycle.
    I start my third DMT today….

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thank you Joelle Buck! At times, there is nothing that will make me feel better then venting how I’m feeling. I’d say it’s actually pretty important to do so! Good luck with your new DMT and I hope your current exacerbation ends soon!

  • skcullers
    2 years ago

    You are all very polite. I usually, after 27 years , say : “I feel like s**t but thanks for asking!”

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thank you skcullers! I confess, I’ve used that exact response on more than one occasion!

  • johnl
    2 years ago

    What would a proper way to ask someone with MS how they are feeling? I ask so I am able to know what type of activity they are up for

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thank you for asking johnl. I’m really not sure, I would just say try to sound sincere. I think for many of us, it’s just that we simply here it so often that it wears us down. But a good sincere question is always welcomed.

  • Dimitri
    2 years ago

    That’s interesting mainly because I’ve never thought about telling people how I really feel. I always stick to the same old “good” or “fine” rehearsed lines. I think I’ve given up trying to explain MS to people because it’s such an unpredictable and random disease. In my case, my cousin had ms and my childhood neighbour has ms and in both cases the symptoms they displayed are nothing like my own. So from experience I’ve learned that if I talk to people about ms then the conversation eventually leads to what they remember about other people’s ms which puts me in a downward spiral. I’ve learnt to avoid those types of fustration traps. Haha.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thanks Dimitri! I 100% sympathize and feel the same way you do when someone suddenly remembers someone else’s MS and then compares mine to that. It’s rough, I wish people would understand snowflake nature of it all! Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts, appreciate it!

  • DonnaFA moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi Dimitri, I certainly understand that. People tend to think that there is a definitive expression of every condition and don’t realize that each person experiences things in a very personal way.

    Thanks for being here and for sharing your frustrations with us. We’re always here to lend a friendly ear. -Warmly, Donna (MultipleSclerosis.net team)

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