What’s Wrong?


I have a list of favorite questions people ask me.

Concerning milder subjects, like motherhood, they’re phrases like, “What do you do all day?” Or, “What’s new?” Those have easy answers.

You wouldn’t think a more-stressful question for me would be, “How are you?” Unfortunately, the implied, casual ignorance of this classic greeting causes even more anxiety.

I know the questioner wants to hear, “Fine.” He or she wishes to hear that everything is peaches and rainbows -and even if they’re not, they will be very soon because surely I am a perky, happy, functional person.

The best of the best, though is, “What’s wrong?” I mean, do you have a few hours?

To a person living with mental illness, this is a ridiculous query. It is the equivalent of asking that question to a man who has just survived a car accident, and his naked bone is protruding from his mangled leg while he gasps for breath.

Sometimes I am even lying on the ground like an injured accident victim. I can’t always be seen, though, since the person asking is often on the other side of my closet door and can barely be heard over my sobbing.

When I can be seen, I feel every bit the obvious wreck.

I have spent most days of the past few years walking around like a zombie. In social situations, I stared blankly and moaned. Then, I went for their brains and enjoyed the tasty feast of synapses and tissue.

Thing is, people seem more trained for responses to car accidents or zombie apocalypses. They are not as observant regarding internal cues.

When I laughed nervously and hugged the corners at parties, I was socially anxious. That time I didn’t show up to a neighborhood lunch, I knew no one really wanted to see me. And when I literally posted a social media message saying I contemplated suicide and felt no one would actually care if I left, I was severely depressed.

That is not the time for internet hugs, people.

The internal signs are not as subtle, but they are still there. Outsiders may feel impotent, overwhelmed, or just plain lazy about helping. If you are an outsider and have a phone and fingers, you can help.

What’s wrong may be that your friend or relative needs professional help. And, when they’re bleeding in the ruins of life, professional help makes much more sense than a casual greeting.


Photo by Niklas Hamann on Unsplash

13 Replies to “What’s Wrong?”

  1. YOu’re not alone in how you have felt, and/or are feeling. Been there, done that… and sucks ass! I use to lock the bedroom door and prevent my ex from entering because I didn’t have the patience trying to explain something that I didn’t even have a handle on.
    I’ve gotten a bit better, especially now that I don’t have to see his smug face. LOL!
    Hang in there, because I truly understand exactly where you are coming from.
    Great post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Chelsea.

    My name is Kim. I have fibromyalgia, depression, anxiety disorder and a host of additional things… when people ask me, like family who are SUPPOSE to care what in the world I do all day?!?!?! I say, “Talk smart, smoke cigarettes and eat f**ing chocolate Bon Bons, what do you do?” This is of course not helpful to the family or me. (I wish I still smoked but I don’t.) Anyway, in all honesty, people aren’t going to understand just being upright for a day with clean underwear and combed hair is a good day when you are dealing with depression. Yep, air hugs do not help.

    Are you safe now? Did you seek the help you needed? I did, went for many years. Still have those bad days/weeks though. I believe we have depression “flares” just as people with pain conditions have a flare of their symptoms. Depression can also come with back and neck pain, body aches, even headaches so the ‘total package’ is always available to anyone suffering a flare in their symptoms. FYI- I had a rough December so I contacted ‘Better Help’. They have licensed counselors who talk to you over the internet. $45. a month, unlimited visits… Very helpful, probably not when you are in crisis, but maintaining or getting through rough times. I had a great counselor help me get back on track. Oh, I need to stop babbling… very brave post and needed!~Kim

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so sorry. My first boss had fibromyalgia. I cannot even imagine the pain.
      Yes, I’ve sought help. I ought to do a follow-up, a mirrored response, to the depressiveness of this post.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. When you have gone through a lot of suffering in your life, as a lot of people with a mental illness often have it is such an impossible question to answer. Only other sufferers will truly understand you and I personally know how alone you can feel. I had so many days nothing in my body would work or I felt as though I was dissolving. A few months back I answered honestly to a telemarketer guy who called saying i was feeling suicidal. The guy was so empathic as it turns out his father had tried to take his life. We often believe we should say fine but why? We must be honest but that is only if we honestly know what is going on and so often our pain can be buried. All I can say is I relate. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for commenting. I love your story of the telemarketer because of his very understanding response and the connection you were able to make with him.
      And, yes, when suffering life is like the dissolving sensation you describe as well.
      We need to reach out to each other.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I was in and out of therapy for years and every time it helped me. I would be doing okay for awhile, but then something would trigger me and I’d be falling, falling… Going back wasn’t easy, but it was very needful. God bless.

    Liked by 1 person

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