“How are You?” is Not a Question

Sometimes you can't avoid the storms - not even in Narnia

Sometimes you can’t avoid the storms – not even in Narnia

“Light the blue touch paper, and retreat…”

I don’t remember the Ugly Sisters’ names, don’t even know if they have names. I am not originally from These Parts. The only panto I’ve ever seen was “Aladdin”.

In this blog, there are a lot of Ugly Sisters. Two of them are twins. Their names are Anger, and Bitterness. And damn! but those girls are ugly.

They have another sister. She’s called Passion. In most stories, Passion is young, and slim, and Hollywood beautiful. Sometimes, she’s badly dressed, and wears specs, and/or braces on her teeth. It’s just for show, you understand. The bad clothes and the glasses and the braces are simply props, which Passion loses around a third of the way through the story.

Not this story. In this one, Passion is middle-aged. Fat. Frumpy, in a way that just ain’t going to change. She may not have specs on, but that’s because she’s put them down somewhere…somewhere she’s forgotten.

There are few things as angry, bitter, and all-round horrid as an individual in a rage with themselves (1). Add a twist of mental health problems, and a big fat slug of post-medication obesity, and you’re reaping an emotional whirlwind the size of a MidWestern tornado.

In other words, grab the pet carrier, flask of tea, and the radio, and head for your emotional basement. Now.

I recently started counselling. Ultimately, I’m sure it will do me good. Short term, though, it’s helping dig up all those stinky, pesky thought-corpses which I try and leave buried: for my own good, and that of  everyone around me.

Stinking corpse-thoughts like: “Why didn’t you resist the urge to stuff your face when they put you on that medication?” (2) Or: “Why can’t you put your mind to shifting the excess weight, now you’re no longer on those meds?” Or “Why do you sometimes answer the words ‘How are you?’ with how you actually are? You know it’s just “Hello”, dressed up in a not-to-be-answered question.”

Seriously, Great Britain, get another greeting. “Morning!” is a good one. Unless the person saying it is just off a night shift, it’s undoubtedly true: it IS morning. And you, and they, can supply the missing word “Good”, without any need to discuss whether it really is a good one. Plus, a whinge about the weather is not only acceptable, it is utterly British to do so.

Speaking of whinging, that’s enough for one day.


"It is the blight man was born for / It is Margaret you mourn for."  - Gerald Manly Hopkins

“It is the blight man was born for / It is Margaret you mourn for.” – Gerald Manly Hopkins

 (1) Damn the English language anyway, for its lack of useful pronouns.

(2) Not all medications have this side effect, nor does everyone get this particular side effect. It’s also better to be fat than dead.


About Sheila North

I am an author and ex-journalist, who has written novels, short stories, and poems. I also help facilitate a writers' group. Check me out on Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sheila-North/
This entry was posted in Bipolar, mental health and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to “How are You?” is Not a Question

  1. blahpolar says:

    I think ‘how are you’ is a trick question.

  2. Nimue Brown says:

    I hate that one too. I’m not keen on having to lie outright, but usually the only option is to lie, because most people who throw it out casually don’t want an actual answer – as you say. But ye gods, what would it be like to have people around who ask ‘how are you’ because they want to know, whatever the score is. I do ask it, and I ask it meaning to get a response, but that also requires a lot of pushing against cultural norms.

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