Let’s face it — most people are guilty of telling lies at some point. Whether they are white lies or regular ones, we’ve all been there for one reason or another.
When you live with a mental illness like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), telling little lies may be a reality of your life just to make it through. Maybe you say, “I have a headache,” instead of telling people you’re experiencing an intense flashback. Maybe you stop at “I’m tired” instead of saying, “I’m tired because I couldn’t sleep without nightmares.” Or maybe you don’t want people to know you’re struggling, so you plaster a smile on your face and say you’re fine.
Whatever the reason may be, we want you to know we see you and you’re not alone. You are not obligated to tell everyone the reality of what you’re going through, but if you’re struggling, we encourage you to open up to a trusted friend, professional or family member. You don’t have to struggle in silence.
We wanted to know what kind of “lies” people with PTSD tell, so we turned to our community. Below you can read what they shared with us.
Here’s what they had to say:
1. “’I’m fine. Just tired.’ I’m most certainly not fine, I’m on the edge of a cliff. I’m tired, but not in the sense they assume. I’m tired of fighting myself every day. Fighting the hate, fighting the fear, the inner monologue that beats me down. It’s so much easier to lie than try to explain to people who can’t or won’t try to understand. If only the thoughts were as easy to box up as the truth is.” — Michelle A.
2. “’I’m tired and need a nap’ or ‘My kids kept me up all night.’ I just wanna go home be alone and not talk to anyone. I ignore phone calls, texts messages ‘because I’m busy with the kids’ but in reality, I’m pulled back from everyone and don’t wanna bother people with my problems or have to explain why I’m feeling the way I am when even I don’t know.” — Kayla O.
3. “I will say I have a headache. In reality I am withdrawing into myself because of flashbacks. It is easier to explain my sudden silence with a headache.” — Christina C.
4. “I’ve learned to tell people whatever they need to hear at the time. ‘I’m good,’ ‘Everything’s great,’ ‘I’m doing a lot better,’ ‘Today’s a good day.’ It makes them feel better and I don’t have to hear half-hearted encouraging sh*t and cliche inspirational quotes. I just want to ‘unburden’ them as soon as I can so I can be done with the conversation.” — Victoria D.
5. “’I need a nap.’ I don’t really need a nap. I just want to be able to completely shut down for a while and not feel something or have somebody expect something of me.” — Kat R.
6. “’I’m fine, just don’t feel well.’ It’s hard to understand what’s going on in my head most of the time so explaining it to someone is near impossible.” — Brayden W.
7. “’I just like my personal space.’ Or, ‘I’m sick, don’t touch me.’ I say this because I cannot stand being touched, especially by men, and people think it’s rude when I tell them not to touch me.” — Shayna K.
8. “’Everything is going to be alright.’ When in my reality, it simply is not going to be alright. I’m on the verge of a panic attack, have closed every blind in my house and have locked every door (including the storm doors) as well as every window. I lock my car doors twice after it’s parked and multiple times while I’m driving. Feelings of hurt, pain, fear and anger boil inside of me. Everything is not alright for me. I live in a constant sense of ‘fight or flight.’ It’s exhausting. I can feel numb or hypervigilant. So much detachment from what I once loved, that it’s terrifying.” — Amy G.
9. “’I forgot [insert anxiety-causing thing I was supposed to do here]’ because it’s easier and more acceptable to say that I forgot to do something that causes panic attacks or that my anxiety simply will not allow me to do than try to explain that I cannot do that thing like making most phone calls. Not being able to do something isn’t understood and trying to explain to someone that I could not do it only leads to being condemned as irresponsible or lazy, etc.” — Jesse H.
10. “’I’m not feeling well.’ Basically it’s my way of being able to isolate myself without having to tell my co-workers or those around me that I’m having an attack or woke up in the middle of the night from a nightmare/terror and couldn’t go back to sleep because I was obsessing over my doors and windows being locked and though I checked many times over, didn’t seem good enough. It’s my way of minimizing the shaking and the light-headedness and racing heart and sometimes have passed it off as low blood sugar.” — Becca M.
11. “’I’m tired. You drive.’ Driving scares me so much that the thought of getting behind the wheel is killing me inside so it’s just better if you drive so I can sit in the passenger seat with my eyes closed praying till we get to our destination.” — Samantha F.
12. “’I slept well last night.’ I can’t sleep in a bed unless my German Shepherd is curled up right against me. I sleep better on couches because I can have my back to something, I guess. I don’t know. Then there’s the nightmares.” — Tatum M.
13. “’It’s OK it doesn’t bother me.’ Usually said to some kind of poor joke on a topic my PTSD stems from. And I do so cause I got tired of explaining why it bothered me over and over and over.” — Caylene G.
14. “’It’s probably just my anxiety.’ I say this because its easier to blame a flashback of trauma on a panic attack than explain what’s actually happening.” — Jordyn F.
15. “’It is what it is…’ the lie part being if I haven’t gotten over it yet, I will soon. The other lie being that I don’t care and it doesn’t affect me.” — Lisa H.
16. “The biggest lie I tell, I tell without even speaking. It’s my silence — I don’t share my suffering or ask genuinely for help.” — Kay S.
What “lie” do you tell because of your PTSD? Tell us in the comments below.