Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Facade Of "Fine".

Whoops. I found this post in my drafts folder from last month, and thought I had published it - apparently I did not. Some conversations at Friends For Life last week actually touched on this very topic, so I think now could be a good time to *actually* put this out there. Just ignore the future tense I speak in at the start. :)

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As I get ready to represent the You Can Do This Project at Friends For Life next month, I'm reading back through the posts, emails and comments that shaped what the project is all about. I'm reliving the emotion, candor and relief that was felt when people let their guard down a bit more and shared, "I'm really struggling. This is so hard. I want to give up some days. I hate this."

The kinds of videos that are upbeat, inspiring and optimistic are great, and they definitley have value in certain situations, for certain people. There are times that those bits of encouragement are helpful and needed. But you know what? It's easy to watch and benefit from those videos when we're already in a good place, diabetes-wise (or life-wise). It's easy to say, "Yeah! I totally got this!" when we're in a groove already.

But when we're not? When we're really far down that rabbit hole? Those particular videos might not help. They actually might cause more harm - because they feed the illusion of "fine".

It seems to be a common human reaction - to say we're fine, when we're not. We say it because it's easier; because we don't want to "get into it" with that person; because it's the expected answer. We say we're fine because if we told people the truth - the ugly, unvarnished, raw truth - they wouldn't know what to say in return. We can't be honest because that particular sort of honesty makes other people uncomfortable, and that discomfort creates more challenges for us. When we're not fine, the last thing we need is more problems.

Admitting that "fine" is a facade takes a huge amount of bravery, but that one act can permeate the lives of so many others who feel that way, too. Living under that facade of fine can feel crushing. Making a You Can Do This video is a chance to step away from that put-together version of ourselves that we tend to show others. It's an opportunity to say "You know, I actually don't have this all figured out. I'm struggling, too", and show someone else that they aren't the only one. That it's okay to be "not fine". That, sometimes, you fail spectacularly as well - but you keep on trying.

You can help lift that weight for someone else.

My original intent with YCDT was to create a safe place for people to talk about the really tough stuff, and I think we're doing just that. You'll find videos covering depression, high A1Cs, guilt, shame... a lot of people have really put themselves and their experiences out there. I love that.

What I'm hoping is that people with diabetes will continue to share the tough stuff. I know there are struggles out there that haven't been thoroughly covered yet, and I recognize that people wish there was a video for this or that particular topic.

I wish that too. It's up to you to be that resource.

It's up to you to share your story.

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I'll have a wrap-up of "how the booth went" tomorrow. Promise. :)


  1. So well written and so true. I go watch certain videos when I need that specific "help"
    I'd still like to do a video sometime. If I could only drum up the courage.
    and for the record, I'm never "fine" because just like diabetes... "fine" is a tightrope.

  2. It's like Back to the Diabetes Future... OK, never mind. Kim, you are brave and awesome. And I don't say that flippantly to take the easy comment road. I truly believe it. You have taken the steps to call it like it is and talk honestly with me about various things, and whether we agree or not, that ability to talk something out is what I take to heart more than anything. And as it applies to YCDT: that's honestly why I hadn't done one of these until the 1-year mark. I just wasn't in a good place, and it didn't feel "fine" to say it was. And I just didn't want to be all depressing and sad... But your voice, and the videos that I watched, gave me the courage to do that and finally share. In what I think/hope was actually pretty balanced. So thank you. No clue how enthralling the experience of FFL was for you and hearing everyone, but your idea and the videos it's spawned has helped me through some of the darkest times, when I needed a little boost (emotional bolus?). Maybe it "isn't" fine at the moment, but it can be. And that's just what I needed to hear. Assuming many more can say that, too. Thanks for doing what you do, Kim.

  3. The only reason why I haven't put a video up there is because I'm camera shy. But I can't let my own insecurities keep me from doing something that may help someone. We never know what's going to catch our attention and make us change our views on something. I think you're doing an amazing job, Kim. And maybe it's time for me to come out of my shell and participate.

    I'm one of those people who's not afraid to say "No, I am not fine!" And maybe it's better to be that way, so people can relate better. It's nice to hear someone tell you everything is going to OK, but sometimes it's good to hear "You know what? Yes, it sucks and I'm sad, and I get you."

  4. I'd rather be brutally honest than "fine". At least in my online persona.

    (Oh goodness, I just used persona in a sentence.)

  5. I remember being at our first endo appointment three months after diagnosis. The social worker came in to ask Q a few questions and then she turned to ask me how I was doing. It took every fiber of my being to get enough air in my lungs to just say "Fine." and every bit of strength to fight back the tears. I was so focused on her well-being and care that I didn't have time yet to think of my own needs. At that point all I had it in me to be was "fine" and that was okay.

    (And I'm crying at my desk!)

  6. I think the hard thing, too, about being brutally honest with someone, is that they then try to convince you that you're "fine."

    I had a minor freak-out last night regarding overall pregnancy weirdness coupled with diabetes burnout and my now non-existent social life, and although I know I could have called several people to spill my guts, I didn't want to be convinced that everything would be fine.

    Another bonus of the internet and YCDT: You can always click away from what you don't feel like hearing or reading!

  7. I understand the sentiments you and the other commenters are referring to completely, and I'm so glad you brought this subconscious/subliminal response to the forefront. Lately, I've gotten away from saying "I'm fine", and instead give vague answers like "I'm making it through", or "day by day" or "today's not bad". The thing is, for me, if I tell someone that I'm not fine, they'll try to help -- and for most people -- I DON'T WANT THEIR HELP. With all due respect, most people don't know what this is like, and they can't really help, so I'd just as soon prefer that they don't even try.

    That's why I'm much more honest in the DOC. Yes, there's some protection in the anonymity of an online persona, but I can explain the "what" about how I'm doing without getting into the "why". The "why" always ends up being part teaching, part guilty-confession, and at times when I'm not fine, those confessions don't help. The DOC is not a "misery loves company" type of place, although that's what sometimes attracts some of us intially. It's a happy place where we don't just try to make each other feel better, but we take care of each other. There's a difference. Thanks for posting this almost-forgotten "draft".

  8. YES. I never know how to respond when people ask how the diabetes is going. Usually I say "fine" or "good", keep it short and sweet, when I want to say so much more. The thing is I don't want to make people worry about me if I'm having a hard time and I don't want them to try to fix me when they have no idea what it's like to live with diabetes. I like the "day by day" response from Scott. I think I'm going to make that my new go-to response. It shows that it's difficult, but you're making it through.

  9. yes, this, ABSOLUTELY: "We can't be honest because that particular sort of honesty makes other people uncomfortable."

    i think when i make my YCDT video, it will be titled, FAILING SPECTACULARLY.

    maybe i should do one with my Excited Voice?


  10. Very well said, and so true. I'm a cancer patient, been fighting kidney cancer for the past 6 years, and I couldn't tell you how many times I've lived the exact same situation. Keeping a blog and opening up on there has proven immensely useful. Sometimes, you do need to say you feel like crap, why, what it does to you. Just saying it is often the first step to get the mind, and the body, in gear for the next round, and the days to come where you really feel 'fine'.

  11. Thank you for publishing this post when you did. It gave me the courage to finish my post for today.

    It is scary to admit when you're not "fine" but knowing that there are people out there who understand definitely helps!


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