“So what is it that you do?”

“So what is it that you do?”

That dreaded question that is asked at social events, by strangers and acquaintances. The ultimate ‘let-me-get-to-know-you-and-judge-you’ question. I hate it and for a long time I have had no idea how to answer it.

Inside my head I often think the answer: “I try to stay alive and not cut myself. I try to eat and gain enough weight so that I can walk through town and function to some sort of degree.” but I would never give that as an answer, even though it does take up a lot of my time and energy just to appear like a functioning young adult.

I’ve given so many different answers to that question, including:

“I’m between jobs at the moment”

“I’ve just finished a college course and am figuring out where to go next”

“I go to Princes Trust and am finding my feet”

“I write”

It’s only very recently I’ve realised that actually it’s okay to say “I struggle with mental illness and am putting my recovery first” and I wish I would’ve said that every time that someone has asked me. There’s nothing to be ashamed of by saying that I am unwell but actually it might help someone to realise it’s okay to speak about their illness or to approach me and ask questions about mine. By lying and twisting the truth all I am achieving is feeling isolated, alone and I’m also not helping to stamp out stigma.

So I pledge that from this day forward I will be open and honest about my illness to others. There is nothing to be ashamed of.

One thought on ““So what is it that you do?”

  1. I’ve found this question extremely difficult to answer at times. Even when I have stock responses lined up, such as ‘I write a blog’, or ‘I’m in between jobs’, my mind often goes blank. And anyway, ‘I write a blog’ isn’t really what I spend most of my time doing. I spend most of my time trying to survive and battle my way through bipolar! I’m so glad I stumbled across this post today, as ‘I struggle with mental illness and am putting recovery first’ is such a fantastic answer to give. It’s the truth, and hopefully it will open up paths of conversation that perhaps people might otherwise feel uncertain about engaging in. Thank you!


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