How Are You?


We hear the phrase every day. It’s well-used. “How are you?” The cashier at the grocery store asks. Your doctor asks. Your child’s teacher asks. The stranger walking past you on the street asks. The standard response is “Fine, thanks” or “Good. How are you?” And we keep walking.

But seriously, when do we stop and look someone square in the eyes and ask “How are you?” and want to know the honest answer, ugly or pretty?  Chances are, you might feel queasy in your gut if somebody asked you.  We’re not used to people really wanting to know. But if we asked and listened for the answer, would people end up happier? I mean, if we really had someone who cared to really know how we’re doing would it help our overall mental health…because somebody has really heard us?

Here’s what our Defying Shadows team had to say when asked “How Are You?”

Melanie P:

Melanie S. PickettHere’s how I’m doing: I’m in a major life transition. My firstborn just left for college and I have a palpable ache in my heart. When she walked away on move-in day, I felt sick, like my guts and heart were being ripped out of my body. And in a way, they were. My body physically reacted to a painful event. This child is literally a part of my body, mind and soul. To be in a different town just feels so unnatural although I know going to college and chasing her dreams and answering God’s call on her life is the most natural thing to do.

I’m also really tired. Crohn’s disease is a beast and makes me feel exhausted and weary. I’m due for an infusion again and don’t want it because even though it helps in some ways, it adds to the fatigue. And so it goes…the medicinal trade-off.

I’m also happy. I have a wonderful child still at home who’s also part of my mind, body and soul. He’s amazing and makes me laugh and I’m proud of both of my babies. My husband is great, hard-working, and supportive.

I have good friends. My best friend and I are embarking on a cool writing project that could really lead to something exciting and fruitful. That’s our prayer. I’ve got my own solo work projects in the hopper too.

Julie W.:

JulieHow am I doing right now?  I am not where I was twelve short months ago. My doctor had declared me in remission in March, and I was reveling in feeling much better than I had in times past.   Then I changed insurance companies and was told they would not cover my Abilify, a mood stabilizer, that was an important part of my medication regimen.  We tried substitutes, but by February, I was suicidal yet again, although the feelings were weaker than normal.  I was hospitalized, put back on Abilify, and was told my insurance company had agreed to cover it for me.  So how am I now, six months later?

I am more anxious than I used to be. I tried yoga and other nonmedication therapies before going on Xanax, which I take when the anxiety overwhelms me.  I find myself withdrawing from others, scared at how they will perceive how I’ve changed.  I pace around the house a lot, trying and failing to get housework done more efficiently.  My obsessions are better since my Abilify was recently upped, and my moods are better.  I am able to handle multiple tasks more easily.  I am still going to school but sobered at how long it is going to take me to finish my degree compared to my other companions in the program.  I am more hopeful for the future than I have been in a long time—but I’m not sure how long that feeling of hope will last.

Alex H.:


 I am tired.

Tired of trying new medications after having none of them work. It feels like nothing is going to help me, and I will feel bad forever.

I am also literally tired, from the newest medication I have been put on. I woke up with a stiff body and sleepy eyes, not ready to face the day.

I was taken off of my old medication, one that seemed to be working, because it interacted badly with the new one. I had to stop it four days before U started the new one, and I could feel the difference. Last night, I nearly burst into tears because the computer was being slow. Luckily, I am on the new one now, and I am hope it works even better than the other one.

Today has been a good day so far. While being tired is a downer, my mind is calm. It could be too calm. I can’t think of anything to write for my own blog, and have been struggling to get views. That is really frustrating,

Overall, things are going well, except for a few rough patches, which are expected. Yes, I am tired, but hopefully that goes away soon. I have hope for the future, which doesn’t happen often.

Amanda O.:

amandaToday I am feeling emotionally and physically exhausted with changes that are happening around me both at work and in my personal life.  I am working through these challenges to get my head around it and to get back to being more focused and into a routine.




Alex N.:

AlexSitting back now and thinking to myself, how am I actually doing, I know my answer isn’t what people would expect. Mentally speaking, I’m quite exhausted. I’ve been working back to back to back shifts in just a few days, and I’m sleeping quite minimally because of this. Plus, my job can be very stressful and busy, to say the least. I’m also back in school – I’m studying chemical engineering technology. I go to school five (5) days a week for 5-8 hours a day. So to say I have no “me” time is quite an understatement. I know that once I get into a routine of things, then I’ll be able to figure out when I can have time to relax and time to myself. Well, right now I’d love to have just a moment to be able to breathe.

So, how am I? I’m hanging in there. My mental health is being tested to see if I can make it through all of this chaos, which is a lot of work and very energy consuming. But, I know for me, my mental health is the most important thing that I need to take care of because it can go from good to bad within just a short period of time if I don’t properly care for it and watch it. Like I said, I’m hanging in there.

Nichole H.:

14188569_542816249260718_1819006212445449631_o Busy. So busy. And a little overwhelmed. Having graduated this summer, I am still trying to find a healthy balance between working, volunteering, teaching, being social and just being.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m doing the right thing. Sometimes I wonder if I am actually good enough. I have my doubts but I am strong, so I tell myself they’re not true and push through.

I’m relieved. I made it to my two year mark in recovery. But I’m scared. I don’t want to slip up. I don’t want to destroy all my hard work and end up back where I was.

But mostly I am thankful. I am so blessed to be where I am today. I have such amazing people around me and I cannot thank them enough. So all in all, I guess you could say I am actually pretty good.


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