The problem: There are a few people in my life who are aware of my medical/mental health history, and they ask me about it, with great concern. But they really have no business knowing the details. How do I respond to them?
Low road: Say, “Actually, I’m good, but I’ve got this weird spotting on my tongue. Can I show it to you?”
High road: The answer depends somewhat on how these people became aware of your medical/mental health history. If you told them, I commend you for that. Reaching out to people you trust is important to your healing. And speaking openly is essential to breaking the stubborn stigma that exists around many health challenges, particularly mental health.
That said, we all have times when we want to share details of our personal challenges, and times when we just want to move forward and not be defined by, or stuck in, those challenges. Perhaps your friends simply haven’t caught up yet.
Thank them for their genuine kindness and give them as much of an update as you’re comfortable sharing, then turn the conversation back on them. “I’m back at work, thanks. How are your kids?” Or, “Thanks. I’ve taken up running. Looks like you’ve been exercising, too.” Or, simply, “I’m still workin’ at it, like pretty much everybody.”
If, on the other hand, some well-meaning relative or friend shared the information without your knowledge, take a deep breath and decide if this is someone you trust, someone with whom you’d like to talk your history. If so, say, “I’m good, but I might like to grab a cup of coffee with you sometime. Would that be OK?” If this is just a nosy person, use humor. “Sorry to disappoint you, but I’m so boring. What’s going on with you?”
Send questions about life’s little quandaries to email@example.com. Read more of Gail’s “High Road” columns at startribune.com/highroad