I’m sure many of us who have experienced mental health problems have found ourselves in this position.
Sometimes, we could be feeling a million feelings at once. Sometimes we might feel completely empty. Sometimes we might not even know how we feel. That’s why, when asked how we are, it’s often easier to lie.
“Are you okay?”
“I’m fine, I’m just tired.”
Here’s what I might really mean when I say I am just tired…
…I don’t really know what I’m feeling
…I feel sad, but if I talk about it it might make me feel more sad
…I am anxious and if I say out loud what I am thinking it might come true
…I don’t want you to know how I am feeling because I want to put on a brave face
…I am exhausted from battling my thoughts 24/7
…I am depressed and doing anything at all feels very difficult right now
…I feel like when I tell people how I feel they don’t understand
…I feel stuck and I don’t know how to get myself out of this situation
…I want to talk about how I feel but I’m worried people will think I am ‘attention seeking’
…I feel suicidal and I am too scared to tell anybody
…I am feeling drained by how anxious I feel all of the time
…I find it easier to pretend I am okay than admit the truth
…I have a constant feeling of dread that I don’t know how to justify
…I am numb and empty and don’t feel anything at all
…I am not eating properly and I have no energy
…I feel like a burden when I tell people how I feel
…I feel terrible but I don’t want to worry anyone
…I don’t have the motivation to sustain a conversation
…I am worried that if I tell people how I feel they will leave me
…I feel like I don’t have any reason to feel like I do now and that people will think I am overreacting
…I am tired of life
Amongst my family, friends, colleagues and the many mental health professionals who have cared for me over the years, there is a running joke that I always say either “I’m fine” or “I’m tired” when asked how I am, when often I am thinking one or more of the things listed above. I also know that saying “I’m tired” is a knee-jerk response for many of us who struggle with our mental health and are used to putting those barriers up.
I try my hardest now to be honest but sometimes “I’m tired” sneaks out before I’ve even given myself a chance to think of how I am really feeling. Checking in with myself is something I am really working on, and I think it is making a difference. In trying to be more honest with those around me, I am being more honest with myself.
Is there anything you would add to this list?