“I’m Fine” (I’m Not Fine)

Kelly Autism, It's a Tink Thing, Well-being 12 Comments

“How are you?” you ask.

“I’m fine, thanks,” I reply.

But I’m not. Not really. I’m not ‘fine’. The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘fine’ (adjective) as ‘of very high quality’ or (adverb) ‘very well’. So, if that’s the case, then no, I’m not ‘fine’.

No-one really wants to hear the real response, though, do they? When you ask a person how they are, the last thing you’d expect is, “well, since you ask – you’d better take a seat, this could take a while – I’m not great. You really want to know how I am? Well…”

I know that if I was to do this, to reveal the truth, that one of several things might happen:

  • My response would be met with sympathy. I don’t want sympathy. I appreciate the concern, I really do, but I can’t do anything with sympathy. Sympathy won’t help me sleep. Sympathy won’t stop my bones from aching. Sympathy won’t get my daughter the education she deserves and stop the niggling worry that has been eating at me for months and months.
  • My response will be met with awkwardness. You’ll wish you hadn’t asked.  Next time you probably won’t ask. In fact, you might just avoid making eye contact, avoid me, so that you aren’t bombarded with the truth you didn’t really want. I’ll regret ever having said anything and know that it’s probably one less social interaction from now on.
  • My response will be met with “I don’t know how you do it”. I understand why you might say this, but really, I do it because it’s my child. It’s my life. I don’t have any other choice and, if I did, I’d still do it. Any of us would, wouldn’t we?
  • My response will make me feel like I’m burdening you with my problems. I don’t like to feel I’m putting on people all the time. It’s not you, it’s me.
  • My response will be met with well-meaning advice. I know you want to help and I really do appreciate it. I do. However, there’s a pretty good chance that I’ve already considered anything you might suggest. There’s always the small chance I haven’t, and, for this reason, I almost want to unburden myself to you, but… see the above.

So, if you ask me how I am, I’m fine. I’ll probably tell you I’m tired (although you can see that from the dark circles under my eyes) or I might say that I’m a bit stressed (but what’s new there?!), but mostly, I’m fine. Just fine, thanks for asking.

Mummy Times Two

Kelly is a mother of two – her son H and daughter Tink. H is home educated, Tink is autistic. Kelly is a self-employed Virtual Assistant… Life is busy!

Leave a Reply

11 Comment threads
1 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
12 Comment authors

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

newest oldest most voted
Notify of

I do the same, because I also feel like “how are you?” is just a robotic question, nobody really means how ARE you? So I just go, “I’m fine.” #PostsFromTheHeart

We need to talk for real and to be able to do this would help so many people. #PostsFromTheHeart

Mine is a very quick , ”Im O.K ” followed by a very quick deflect back to them of ” and how are you ? ” . Most people do mean well and they do want to help but no one can understand your journey. You will win this battle and your are fighting it for Tink. Keep going , dont stop , even when they tell you there are no more options or funding. You dont know how strong you can be until being strong is your only option X #postsfromtheheart

Such a stiff upper lip British thing to say we’re fine always isn’t it, but such an honest post you’ve written. I imagine you must get so fed up of saying you’re fine. Us mums are always ‘fine’ but I’m sure most of us aren’t really at all a lot of the time, for whatever reasons. Most of the time there’s really no point in saying anything else because we need to be just ‘fine’. #postsfromtheheart

I spent the first 12 months after Joseph’s autism diagnosis and my marriage break up saying I’m fine. I now know it’s ok to say I’m not fine and I’m not expected to be superhuman. There is only me that expects that of me! Although when I do lapse back into saying ‘I’m fine’ those around me know I’m not.


I’m ‘fine’ too. Sending hugs x

I’m fine right now. My husband ha gone off again on his motorbike to play with his friends. My kids refuse to dress weather appropriately despite both having a cold. I miss my family. I am lonely.
I am fine.

I am fine too. One of the finest at bring fine!

It is much easier than even starting to find the real words to describe how I feel.

We all do it, sometimes it feels less real when we don’t admit it. But, it’s also good to let people know how you really feel sometimes too. You may not want sympathy or advice but often just a gentle nod of understanding that you don’t feel fine will mean a lot to you. xx

Julie Clarke

We just keep going don’t we. At some point I think I just became numb to feeling much at all as my daily life is the same old stuff every single day. You are wonderful, whether feeling fine or not, just never forget what a fantastic parent AND person you are xx

Such a British thing to do… saying you’re fine when you’re not has the potential to lead to mental health issues. Lots of us do it, but the key is knowing yourself when fine really is so far removed from fine that you can do something about it…. hope you have some good local support xx