“How Are You? Good. I’m Fine”

Jeremy Bellman , Contributing Writer

As I walk to class every day, I often run into a friend and exchange a few words. Our short conversations usually start and end the same way every time. It goes: “How are you doing today?” “I’m good. How about you?” “Good.” “I’ll see you later!”

Simple. Nothing special. Just a casual encounter with a friend on the way to their busy lives. When the day is over, as I scroll through social media, I see the same friend I said hi to update their profile picture with a new haircut. I like it. It’s nothing crazy. Just a change in appearance. I plug in my phone to charge, set an alarm, and begin the routine the next day.

Days pass and the same friend I usually see on the way to my 9:25 a.m. class appears less frequently and I wonder why that is. Maybe they’re sick or taking a different route. I hear from other friends that they’re going home more frequently. “They must be homesick,” I think to myself. Weeks pass and I still don’t see or hear from them much until one morning something different occurs.

I wake up to my alarm and see my latest news feed on social media and see all these posts of colleagues I know wishing the best to the person who went home all the time. As I scroll, I see posts of: “We love you. Hang in there.” “You are loved. Be the light in this world.” “You matter.” “You are never alone.” At the same time, people are sharing this number:  1-800-273-8255. The national lifeline for suicide prevention.

I eventually learn that the person I casually encountered every day, always said hi to and always assumed was doing fine because she said she was doing “good,” was going through depression and multiple attempts of suicide and self-harm.  

Turns out, “good” doesn’t mean good. I try my best to ask people how their lives are going and check in on my closest friends, but because we’re so busy, we don’t take a second glance at someone who quickly says that they’re “fine” or “good” as we both rush to the next thing on our schedule. I wonder how this person might have been had I taken a few minutes of my day to walk with them to their class and talk for a bit or even invite them to coffee. I’m not sure if it would help, but I want to let them know that I am there for them no matter what.

Depression is a battle that cannot be fought alone. Worst, many think there’s only one solution to getting rid of depression and that’s to get rid of it completely. Now, I always take a few minutes of my day to make sure everyone I know is doing well. I know that “fine” and “good” don’t always mean that because I never know what personal battles someone may be facing.