How many times a day do you use the words “I’m fine?” I’m going to go out on a limb and say its probably a lot. But how many times do you actually mean it? I’m guessing not so many. “I’m fine” has no place in a society that’s breaking the stigma on mental health, and here’s why we should stop saying it.
It’s a lie
According to the Mental Health Foundation, the average adult says “I’m fine” 14 times a week, but only 19% actually mean it. At some point, we’ve all been part of the 80% who lie and to an extent its just habit (I even tell my doctor I’m fine and its his job to know whats wrong). But sometimes its a cover. We use “I’m fine” as a way of avoiding talking about our problems, of deflecting from what’s actually wrong. And it needs to stop.
It’s too easy
It’s obvious that this is why we say we’re fine. Its almost always easier than opening up to someone when we might not have even admitted to ourselves that we’re struggling. But it’s too easy. Say those two little words and you’re free from ever having to talk about your problems. Ideal, right? Wrong. Talking about our problems is absolutely the key to solving them, but we’ll almost never choose this option as long as there’s an easier alternative out there. Stop covering, and start talking.
It’s not helpful
What does “I’m fine?”actually achieve? I’m inclined to say nothing. Yes, it changes the subject, yes it gets whoever’s asking off your case. But all it really leads to is isolation, worry and a lack of support. You’re never going to get help if no one knows you need it, and if you tell people your fine, the majority of them will just accept it and move on. You can’t get better on your own, and no matter how hard talking might be, its always worth it in the end.
No one really believes it anyway
Why? Because they’re probably in the exact same position themselves. You’re definitely not alone in whatever’s bothering you, and its probably going to be a lot more common than you think. If your friend asks how you are, its because they genuinely care, and the chances are they’re looking for a chance to open up, too. Give it a try, I promise it’s worth it.
It’s okay not to be okay
Okay, cliche. But I can’t stress enough that its true. The stigma around mental health is melting slowly but there’s still a lot to be done, and lots of people still feel wildly uncomfortable, ashamed or embarrassed to admit something’s wrong. Please, this needs to stop. We say “I’m fine” because we’re scared of the alternative: scared of opening up, scared of what people will think. But the thing is, pretty much everyone is in the same boat. Whether you suffer from mental health problems or not, down days are perfectly normal and very very common. So find someone you trust and tell them about it. And if they ask, don’t pretend.
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Marketing Co-ordinator dfor Tyfy.co
Emily studies English at Keele University and manages blog content for Tyfy. As well as her own Mental Health Monday column, Em also carries out Marketing, Research and Development for the Company.