The slightly official looking disclaimer bit: This post is about physical illnesses, physical symptoms and limitations, not mental health. I wanted to put this in before the ‘read more’ bit as there are big differences between someone saying they’re ok in the two, at least from my experience.
I have to admit, having written that title and reading it back I do feel slightly like I’m reading a self-help book, sorry about that. I guess this topic isn’t specific to M.E., it isn’t even specific to people with chronic illnesses or illnesses in general as I guess everyone’s OK is relative to them. And there I sound even more like a self-help book.
Since having M.E. I find the ‘how are you?’ question harder to answer. It’s a simple question that comes up regularly and not one you really think about when you’re well, ‘I’m OK’ is an acceptable response and people just carry on with the conversation. Over the past ten years though I’ve found that some people don’t look like they believe me when I say it. I will admit, there have been times where I’ve said ‘I’m fine’ just to get someone to change the subject and move on rather than go into detail of how I actually feel if I were to reply something a bit more honest. That’s the word fine though, and for some reason in my head OK is a step up from fine. Don’t ask me why, I’m not sure.
To me OK means I’m alright, I’m not good but I’m also not bad, somewhere in the middle. I guess it’s one of those words that gets used so often it’s kind of lost a lot of its meaning in everyday conversation, it’s a bit of a meh word when you don’t really know how to describe things quite often. Maybe that’s why people look like they don’t believe me sometimes when I say I’m OK but I haven’t had the energy to get dressed.
I think that in general everyone has different levels that mean ‘OK’, it’s an average day and I feel kind of average about it is how I see ‘I’m OK’. I think everyone’s ‘OK’ day is different, it can be that you’ve done some of the things you hoped to achieve but not all no matter how big or small they are. It’s just a normal day, which is another word I guess is relative but that’s a whole other blog post really. Feeling OK health wise is a bit of a tricky one as I never feel 100%, I can’t go for long walks and even after going up stairs my legs ache and feel like I’ve run 400m but that’s just an average day, my body is in its average level of pain or fatigue and I’m managing to do things that I can’t when I’m ‘not feeling great’ or something similar.
I know there are some people who say they’re OK to hide how they really feel or to get people to stop asking about them and move the conversation on but there are some of us who may not look like we feel OK but we really do. I know it’s not the average person’s version of OK, I’m not going out walking the dog or going shopping every weekend and I spend more time than I probably should on the computer but this is my OK.
My life may not seem like it’s fulfilling enough for me to feel OK mentally, I know I don’t manage to do much, I don’t go out to see friends and almost all of my contact with people is through the computer but that doesn’t mean I’m not OK, it just means I’m my OK. In your scale of things if it were you living this life maybe you’d answer ‘I’m feeling rubbish, I haven’t managed to do anything’ but in my world I have. I have done things on an average day now that I couldn’t have done on a great day six years ago so yes, everything’s OK, I’m feeling OK and in general my day is OK if that’s what I’ve said.
I guess the trick is working out whether we fall into the first or second category, which can be hard and some people can hide things pretty well so it’s really not easy. I don’t have an answer to that, I just wish that some people would accept my OK and not spend the whole time trying to push some problem onto me that I don’t have, M.E. is enough to deal with.
This post is about chronic illness, physical illnesses not mental as those are a completely different ball game when it comes to people saying they’re ok. And if you’ve got this far please don’t think I’m saying ignore someone who says they’re ok if you don’t think they are, especially in a mental health sense. If so then ask them, talk to them and see if you still believe them but please don’t give the ‘I know you’re not really but you’re just trying to please me look’, they’ve probably seen it a few times.
I’m really hoping no one is offended by anything I’ve said, I tried to be honest about how I feel and this is a post about my opinions and experience, not necessarily one that will apply to everyone with M.E. I just felt like I wanted to post about the topic as it’s something I’ve thought about recently. I did have another topic entirely planned for this week but this kind of happened and I wanted to post it before I changed my mind and deleted it.
As I said in my other M.E. post any questions or topics anyone wants to read about I’m happy to try and write a post about. Either leave a comment below or if you want you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want. Or if you want to see something completely unrelated on the blog that email’s for anything blog related really.