How are you?
Such a simple every day question. But nothing is simple when it comes to CFS/ME (or any type of chronic illness) and the answer to this question is no exception!
How do you answer:
The outright lie? – I’m fine, all well and good never been better
The brutal honesty? – I am awful, I am in pain all the time suffering from crippling fatigue.
It is tempting to lie and say everything is ok even when its not, especially to co-workers or people you don’t see often. There are benefits of doing this it skates over the temptation to give too much information when you know the person is only asking to be polite; the downside however is that you are not conveying how much effort/ discomfort you putting in just to be there (be that work or a social event).
This can raise peoples expectations of what you can do, if you are fine/good their exception is likely to be that you can do that extra piece of work or be disappointed when you can’t stay all night out drinking or meet up for that spontaneous dinner.
Equally brutally honest response detailing exactly how bad your feeling isn’t that helpful either, the person asking the question unless they are a super close friend, family or partner they are unlikely to want how bad you are actually feeling. Even though it shouldn’t it can make things a bit awkward.
So if lie and being brutally honest aren’t the right way to go, what do you say ?
Well there is a third option and is something I have been doing for a while, I say something along the lines of depending on how your feeling that day:
Not to bad thanks today is a good day, pacing seems to be working. I am defiantly getting there.
Not great today, but we will see how it goes.
You need to believe that you can get better before you can convince others.