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When I say “I’m good,” even I am not sure if I’m being truthful

I’m writing this on the last day of September (though it’s possible you readers won’t see it for awhile after that since we roll out blog posts over time).  I have had such a sh*$$y month regarding my health.  What’s funny is that, looking back on the last four weeks, I definitely see a lot of highlights among the migraines.  Jim and I attended the wedding of a dear friend; we had friends visit from out of state; we settled more into our home.  I drove to Virginia for a book conference and squeezed in a few days’ worth of family and friend visits.

Even during my periods of crappy health, I tend to look back through rose-colored glasses.  All in all, I think this is a positive trait:  I am a really a glass half-full kind of girl, almost always able to see the good even in the crappiest of situations.

Sometimes I wonder, though:  am I being dishonest with myself about the impact migraine has on my life?  And, if I am not being entirely honest with myself regarding migraine’s impact, am I doing myself a disservice in some way?

Today a friend asked how I was doing, and I (a born and bred Southerner despite my family’s Pittsburgh roots) automatically replied, “I’m good; how are you?” Never mind that it sounds more proper to say “I’m well.” Let’s just unpack the answer I just gave.

I had a really crappy migraine today, one of those lingerers that was accompanied by neck and shoulder pain so significant not more than a few minutes went by at a time without my actively noticing it.  As of 5:00pm, I was still in pajamas, and I had just ordered dinner delivery because I wasn’t feeling up to cooking (and Jim was slammed with homework so couldn’t make us dinner without missing a school deadline).  My to-do list for the bookshop wasn’t even one-tenth completed, and I’d just gotten a reminder that my book orders for the next four weeks of events need to be done immediately.  I was exhausted, stressed, tired, frustrated, sick, migrainey, and stretched a little too thin.

Yet I told my friend I was good.

It’s not a lie, exactly.  I do feel like things are, in general, rather good.  I have a healthy, happy family I am close with.  I happen to own the cutest cat in universe (it’s okay if you cat people want to take me to task for that—it is my wish that all we cat people firmly believe our cats are the very cutest). My dream was to open a bookstore and be a writer, and both of those goals have been met and even surpassed.

How am I?  I’m good. I really am.

But, in looking back at the number of days in my calendar I have color-coded with orange (the color of my “health” calendar on my smart phone), I notice that more than half of the days in September have been migraine days.  I have missed work shifts and functions, I have missed hangout time with my sister, and I have missed get-togethers with friends. I have been in attendance at work or social functions but only with about a third of my brain working (and that’s being generous). I’ve sat in front of the computer, totally dumbed down due to migraine, only to realize than an hour has passed without my getting any real work done.

So what is the answer? Am I good? Am I not?  Have I had a crappy month, or a pretty good one?  It’s so confusing to be grateful for the life I lead while simultaneously feeling at my wits’ end with migraine.

How many of you out there can identify with me on this issue? 

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Lynn Voedisch
    5 years ago

    I can’t remember how many times I’be said things were going well when I was only just past a week with three migraines and no work done. I Think I figure that in retrospect it’s not so bad and tend to forget the hard parts. I also project so much hope that things will get better because I’ve lost so many friends due to this disease.

  • Holly H.
    5 years ago

    I have thought on this very thing. Since the migraine stays, it’s more a matter of degrees and ability to function on that day or that part of that day. I mostly respond with, “Doing all right,” when the “How are you” is meant as a personal greeting and not a true inquiry. But when the “How are you” is from someone who knows and is concerned, or the headache is so bad that I look quite sickly, then how (and to what degree) to respond is, indeed, a challenging decision.

  • Angie
    5 years ago

    I often say I’m good or I’m making it.. Not many friends see past it. I wish I could go just one day without the migraine pain

  • Luna
    5 years ago

    I like to say “I’m ok”. “I’m here”. “I’ve been better” or worse. Depending on what I manage to get out.

  • MarleyM
    5 years ago

    I don’t like to lie and say “fine” – and it’s usually pretty obvious I’m not fine anyway. But I also don’t want to get into the ugly details. I hate feeling like I’m just my migraine, or that all I do is complain. If I can honestly say something positive, like “The last couple of days have been good,” then I do. But on the bad days, I tend to answer “How are you?” with a smile and “Vertical.” A little humor, no dishonesty, no unnecessary or uncomfortable level of detail. My friends know my code and can follow-up if they want to; they also know ME and let me deflect when I need to.

  • MigraineSal
    5 years ago

    I do think that we have subconsciously trained ourselves to say “good, thank you”, or something equally inaccurate in reply to such questions, almost on autopilot and without actually reflecting on “how we actually are” for a number of reasons . . .

    One reason is who wants to see that glazed “I am not really interested” look when you start recounting how you really feel! Another reason is, if we say it often enough we just might start believing it ourselves and it may become a self fulfilling prophecy! I have to say (and have done so on here many times) that I have become much more positive since I went on my Pain Management Programme and started practicing mindfulness and meditation. I really surprised myself when I realised that I had finally found peace and a much more positive attitude and I still can’t believe that these have come from pain and finding a way of managing it. I have had a rotten migraine week and have spent the whole week trying to keep it at bay . . . I ignored a couple of (in hindsight) glaring warning signs and it really took hold on Wednesday and I still have the tail end today. On the positive side however, there was a great article on this week reminding us of the common warning signs and I have printed them for my Migraine Folder and workplace so that I can keep rereading them and hopefully not disregard them in the future !

  • Sally
    5 years ago

    It must be part of the brain fog that accompanies migraines. Someone will ask how my headaches have been and I’ll say they’ve been good. My husband will quickly jump in and remind me of the 3 horrible ones I had the previous week. It’s sort of like once they’re over I just want to forget them and put them out of my mind.

  • Mac
    5 years ago

    Sometimes i’ll wonder the same thing. I think i’ve actually just redefined what ‘good’ is to suit my own situation.

    If i ask a colleague at work if they’re good, when they answer, they’re normally saying they have a pretty good life – in general.

    When i tell people i’m good, what i actually mean is i’ve achieved some things i didnt manage given the same level of migraine hell the month before. My life is ‘good’ despite spending half my current life in some sort of migraine induced sickness, stupidity or agony.

    I do think i have a good life. I have an amazing partner, good job. Dont have the dream mansion with the hidden go-kart track in the attic i drew when i was a kid, but im working on it. It probably isnt the same level of good as my co-workers though!

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