How are you?
It’s a question most people get quite often. Not me. I have depression and anxiety. With precious few exceptions, even family and friends who know this tend to avoid asking how I am. I think it’s because they’re afraid of my answer. I can see their point. When you ask someone how they are, you probably don’t want to hear “I had an anxiety attack that left me shaking” or “I can’t get out of bed today.”
Most people who do ask me how I am are people who also have a mental illness. With them, there’s less fear of the answer. Hardly anyone, except their doctors or social workers, asks them how they’re doing either. I know this because they tell me this.
That’s one big advantage of support groups. There are many out there, but I’ve been going to DBSA (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance) and I’ve found their groups to be very helpful. I’ve made friends there–the kind of people who will just call me or text and ask–you got it–How are you. In the past few months, I’ve found immeasurable power in that question. The power of compassion. The power of connection (even when my depression tells me I’m not connected.) The power of responding to that question honestly.
DBSA also has groups and resources for family and friends, I’ve met quite a few people in that category, and they’re often confused about what to do or say. I’m not a doctor, but here’s my two cents worth of advise. You can ask them “How are you.” When they answer, just let them know you’re there for them.
It may not seem like such a big deal. But trust me–it means a lot.