“I’m doing fine. Thanks for asking.” This is the response I usually give to people when they ask, “How are you?” Most people I say this to don’t want to hear the truth and probably wouldn’t understand it anyway.
I have learned over the years that saying “I’m doing fine” is a simple way to answer that question. It quickly takes the focus off my health. It’s easy to convince others that I’m doing OK or “hanging in there.” People can be fooled by appearances and my illusion of “normal.” The real struggle happens when I try to convince myself of the same thing.
Telling myself that I’m fine to silence the worries in my head about my physical symptoms can be effective for a while. The lie serves a purpose: It helps me stay productive on days when I should be resting and allows me to push through physical discomfort, depression, and anxiety.
I have told myself that it will be fine while trying to keep a positive mindset before undergoing procedures and major surgeries. Although this way of thinking has helped me through some difficult times, it also has been hazardous to my physical and mental health.
It has become dangerous to convince myself that I’m fine for several reasons. On the days when I am feeling upset, anxious, and frustrated, I feel as if I need to suppress these emotions. Saying, “It’s all OK, it’s going to be fine,” doesn’t erase the reality that sometimes it just isn’t fine, it merely silences the difficult feelings, pushing them aside for later.
Storing these emotions has led to increased anxiety at times of acute stress. And this has made my emotions seem unstable and harder to control. As a result of hiding my true feelings, I often have outbursts and unregulated emotional responses.
Not only is telling myself that I’m fine hazardous to my emotional and mental health, but also it is dangerous for my physical health. It’s easy for me to fool others when they see me for a brief period. I can put on makeup, do my hair, and wear a nice outfit to mask what is going on inside. People assume I am doing well and comment on how “great” I look.
Though I receive compliments on the nights I feel well enough to go out, my exterior never truly matches how I feel. Convincing myself that I’m fine can feel like an act, and it becomes unhealthy when I start to believe it.
When I begin to believe it, I start to ignore my health needs and lose trust in what my body is telling me. My mind says, “I’m good,” while my body is warning me of something else entirely. Recognizing the disconnect between my body and mind is important to stop the thought patterns in which I can easily get stuck. I convince myself that I don’t need a medication or that my supplemental oxygen is dangerous. Sometimes the attitude of “mind over matter” and “I can do it” causes damage.
Ultimately, my body ends up winning the “I’m fine” battle. It usually reminds me in the most difficult ways that I need to slow down. Sometimes I get so caught up in wanting to feel and be “fine” that I forget all about the care and support that my body needs to function.
Even though positive thinking and saying, “I’m fine” can be beneficial, it’s just as important to pause and recognize when those thoughts interfere with what I should be doing to better my health.
Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.
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