We know depression is a liar. It tells us we’re worthless, that nobody cares about us and that we’re alone. Even if we know deep down these things aren’t true, depression can be convincing — and its lies can be hard to escape.
Sometimes, depression can make us liars, too.
Maybe you lie when you’re depressed because you’re afraid your family won’t understand. Maybe you’ve been burnt before, or you worry revealing how you really feel will burden the people you love.
Whatever the reason you lie, it’s important to know you’re not the only one who feels this pressure — and that finding even small ways to be more truthful can have a huge impact on your depression journey as a whole.
To better understand why people lie when they’re depressed, we asked our mental health Mighty community to share what lie they tell when they’re struggling — and why they tell it.
Here’s what they shared with us:
1. “I’m fine.”
“I tell these lies because no one wants to know how you’re really doing, they don’t want your honest answer because they have this fear that you’ll influence them badly or ‘force’ them to help you. They only ask you because it makes them feel good they did.” — Melissa K.
“I say I’m fine because I don’t want people to worry about me. Even when they clearly see that something is wrong, I still convince them everything’s OK…” — Anahita H.
“‘Everything’s fine.’ When I’m really depressed, I don’t believe people actually want to know how I’m doing and even when I do believe it, I don’t want to bother them.” — Rose J.
2. “I’ll do it later.”
“I tend to give up on self-care and general everyday things when I’m going through an episode. ‘I’ll do my laundry later.’ ‘I’ll wash my hair later.’ ‘I’ll eat something later.’ Then later becomes tomorrow and tomorrow becomes the next day and then I slowly feel myself sink deeper because I feel guilty for not being able to do basic human things.” — Yoeli R.
3. “I’m just tired.”
“Because it’s so much easier than admitting something is wrong, becoming ‘dramatic’ about it and then regretting all the expressions of your emotions 10 minutes after you have them. Because it’s easier than saying you have PTSD and you never really trust good feelings. Because it’s easier to lie about our mental illness.” — Autumn G.
“‘I’m just tired.’ Since I’m a single mom when I say ‘I’m just tired’ it usually gets people to drop the conversation, and I don’t have to explain further how I’m doing or how much I’m struggling.” — Rachel M.
“I tell people I’m tired. It’s socially acceptable and doesn’t lead to the person instantly pretending I don’t exist. So I’m lying to not be pushed away by others. I’ve had tension headaches for three months straight and if I tell people about it, they go silent. It’s gotten to a point though where I have no energy to pretend feeling fine, so I currently don’t talk with anyone.” — Andrea G.
4. “I’m OK.”
“I don’t want to bother the people around me and be a burden. So I just mask it whenever someone asks if I’m OK or not.” Alex S.
“Anything else makes the conversation too complicated. And it’s rarely the time or the place to talk about how you really are.” — Tia M.
“I would say, ‘It’s OK! It’s fine,’ a lot when I was struggling with depression. This was typically when my friends would go out and not invite me. This would just make me struggle even more. I’d do this because I didn’t want them to worry when they were out. I hated when people would skip plans to help me. I would feel terrible. It’s ironic.” — Brittany B.
5. “I think I’m coming down with a cold.”
“Shameful to know this is infinitely more accepted than just admitting I’m having a bad mental health day/time.” — Lena C.
“‘I think I’m coming down with the flu.’ It’s easier and brings fewer questions than being honest. Then people don’t worry so much when you cancel on them. Most of the time I feel like no one wants to hear what’s really going on anyways. This way I don’t have to sit through the torturous, ‘I don’t know what to say to you’ silence I dread so much.” — Tracy S.
“I tell people I have a cold. I always look like death warmed over when I’m depressed and having a cold explains away my appearance, my messy house, my lazy clothes, all the sleeping I do and being antisocial. No one questions it and everyone says they hope you feel better.” — Shannon D.
6. “Sorry, I can’t hang out. I’m busy.”
“Honestly any lie I can tell to get out of social situations when my depression won’t let me leave the house. ‘I got a doctors appointment early, I can’t hang.’ ‘My mom said no.’ ‘I’m sorry but I have to take my cat to the vet’ — anything.” — Victoria J.
“‘Oh, sorry I’m going to have to reschedule. I’m just really busy with work right now, y’know?’ I mostly say this because I don’t want people to see the state I’m in. It’s hard enough when I’m struggling with it, but I feel like a burden when someone else has to deal with me when I’m struggling.” — Elysha J.
“‘No sorry can’t. Super busy.’ Because I can’t deal with leaving the house… Sometimes it’s just too much.” — Samantha V.
7. “I’m great! How are you doing?”
“‘I’m great, how are you doing?’ I feel like I’m not worth their care or concern so I change the subject back to them. It’s my way of avoiding the spotlight being shined on me and lets me check in with them, because I couldn’t bear the thought of them feeling as empty and broken as I do.” — Brendan J.
“‘Doing alright, and you?’ Why should they care? Why should I give them the power of information about me? Why should I let them in?” — Sherry L.
“I often say, ‘I’m good, how are you?’ because I know random people don’t wanna hear my problems.” — Emily M
8. “I just ate.”
“Even when I haven’t eaten all day, I will tell people I’ve eaten just so they don’t worry about me. Truth is I have zero appetite when I get bad and can’t bring myself to eat anything anyways.” — Antasia H.
“‘I ate today’ — because that’s always people’s go-to question. Then, they don’t bother me anymore about it.” — Cheyenne L.
“I don’t eat when my mental health is bad. So I say I have so people don’t worry about me. I just don’t feel hungry.” — Shilo A.
9. “I’ve got this…”
“‘I’ve got this…’ Even when it feels like not living would take all the pain and sadness and worry and tiredness away… So saying I’ve got this is a lie because it literally feel like I’m dying… I can feel my heart accelerating, I can feel my heart coming close to exploding, I literally cannot breathe, my head feels lost and panicked… I have to calm down. There’s so much to do. I’ve got this.” — Nellie L.
10. “Sorry, it’s not always this messy.”
“When I have people over and my rooms a mess, I say, ‘Sorry it’s not always this messy.’ But it is. I can’t even remember the last time I cleaned my room. Every time I have any free time to do things I’m sleeping so I don’t have to be awake with my thoughts.” — Victoria J.
11. “I just need a day, I’ll be OK tomorrow.”
“Truth is I just don’t want to be a burden to anyone. It’s better if they feel I’ll be OK than for me to actually be OK.” — Serity M.
12. “No, I don’t need anything.”
“Except I do. I need quiet, but not silence. I need friends, but not parties or ‘get togethers.’ I need validation, but not pity. And it’s OK if you can’t provide those things, but don’t take it personally when I can’t offer more either.” — Courtney L.
13. “I just need to be alone for a little while.”
“’I just need to be alone for a little while’ — but really, I just feel inadequate and like a burden to everyone around me. All I want is to be hugged and have my friends help me stay above water. I’m just afraid to ask.” — Elizabeth L.
“Go away and leave me alone.’ In truth, sometimes I don’t mean it. I actually want you to stay and prove to me that you care and tell me No, I want to be here with you in a time of need.” — Nick B.