Woman, shirtless with her back to the camera.

We Challenged People to Write Honest Captions for Their Facebook Photos


Our social media identity is a carefully curated version of ourselves — and unlike real problems, an unwelcomed Facebook photo can be rid off with a single click.

While a picture is worth a thousand words, how often do we use photos on social media to tell the whole story? Those who live with mental illnesses or other conditions are familiar with the concept: There’s the you shown to the world, and there’s the “real” you, the messy you, who often doesn’t get as much airtime online.

To get some transparency on the web, we teamed up with PostSecret and Active Minds to collect Facebook photos with truly honest captions.

You’ll find these pictures are worth so much more: 

A girl in a bus. Text reads: I look happy in this picture, but it takes everything I have every single day not to kill myself because being alive hurts so, so much.

A man looking down at a gun in the dark. Text reads: "I still don't know why I chose to live that night. I still don't know if I'm going to keep choosing it, and I reenacted this photo to show it."

Red-headed model. "In this photo I may look very confident and self-assured, but behind the facade is this immense fear that because of my thyroid scar I cannot pursue modeling and performing as I will not be wanted. I'm trying to soak in every moment now and hope that there is a future for my passions. I was also managing my anxiety with the stranger who was my photographer."

Woman at the beach: I'm broken, sometimes drowning in unreasonable fear. But there are some moments when I remember, it's all going to be OK."

selfie of blonde woman. Text reads: "My face is haunted with exhaustion, stress and worry these days since cancer attacked my 10-year-old daughter."

Woman taking a mirror selfie. Text reads: "I've gained 100 pounds since this picture. People have asked me what happened to my diet. It wasn't a diet, I just stopped doing drugs and replaced them with food."   selfie of a woman laying in bed. Text reads: No one wants someone who is chronically ill.
cat. text reads: This gorgeous ball of fluff, and her predecessor, healed my soul in ways medication will never be capable of.   selfie of a woman. Text reads: I have terminal breast cancer, I smile so other people feel better. Behind this smile I am wondering when my last breath will be taken.
woman with a baby. Text reads: "In this picture I may be smiling because that is what I am supposed to be doing with my newborn sleeping on my chest, but in reality I just want to get up, set him down and run away. I was miserable in this picture struggling with PPD...I just thought I wasn't cut out for motherhood."
diagram of a brain. text reads: "I'd give anything for a safe treatment, let alone a cure, for my beautiful little girl. I wish I could take it from her brain and put it in mine. I'm angry at the world over this. Quit calling me strong. She doesn't deserve this. I live every day with fear of a rupture."
woman with sunglasses. Text reads: I wear them on days where I don't have the strength to meet the eyes of others. I wear them when I'm so exhausted my entire body hurts and I don't have an explanation yet because nobody will tell me what's wrong with me. I make sure I look well on the outside even if I'm half dead on the inside. I'm chronically exhausted, and hiding it.   woman and her daughter. text reads: I may seem like a totally normal hip Mom. But inside I am crippling with fear every day.
  woman on a carousel: This picture was taken at Disneyland just hours before my first ever anxiety attack. Being at ‘the Happiest Place on Earth’ made me realize how unhappy I was. I didn't get out of bed for days after. I look like I'm having the time of my life but I know how sad I really was.
  Woman outside. Text reads: "This is one of the rare moments that I wasn't filled with crippling depression while I was homeless with an abusive partner. It was the day I decided to change my path in life. Two woman kissing. text reads: This beautiful woman saved my life, more than she will ever realize. She pulled me out of a very dark place and showed me how to live and love and trust. She will forever have my heart. dark selfie of a woman. Text reads: I put this pic up and everyone thought I was just being artsy. I was just really sad and in a dark place. I guess I was hoping someone might get it.
  Selfie of a woman: Text reads: This was one of the many suicidal faces out there. This was someone who tried killing herself not even a month ago.
  Woman holding a sign that says.: I won the war against depression. Text reads: Keep living.. life can get better.
  planes. text reads: Just minutes before I took this picture, I had a panic attack in front of about 30 women and men I had just met. I got this amazing opportunity to fly on a military jet and watch it refuel other jets from 27,000 feet up. I'm not afraid to fly as I live 2,400 miles from home and do it often. As soon as they closed the door to the plane, the panic set in. I'm trapped. Chest tightens, vision goes blurry and my hearing starts to fade. They told me I had 30 minutes to make the decision of whether or not I wanted off the plane before takeoff. With deep breaths and my head between my knees...we ascended and this ended up being one of the most memorable days of my life so far! Proud moment of someone diagnosed with GAD and OCD!
  Group of guys at a party. Text reads: This is me, in yellow, at my birthday party. This is the face of a guy who wants so badly to enjoy his birthday, but is being torn apart on the insides. This was one of the worst nights of my life. As the party started, my guest list of 20ish people all showed up, but then the people kept coming. Which wasn't a big deal, I knew and grew up with them all, except that it was a big deal, because it was unexpected. The anxiety absolutely crushed me to the point of leaving my own party early. But not until it tormented me for several hours. I was devastated for days. Photo of a lady at the hospital: I put on a funny ‘I got this face’ but inside I'm screaming to be normal and weeping for the life I used to know and love.
  A woman and daughter showing their semi-colon tattoos. Text reads:Mental health issues run in our family. I will not let this mental illness own me like it did my mom until she took her last overdose. Here I am with my daughter with our new semicolon tattoos. We both struggle with mental health. We are surviving and sometimes thriving. Our story is not over; we will continue to chose life.”
Picture of family with their faces blurred out by marker: Every morning I wake up determined to be a happier, healthier, more positive wife and mom...and every night I go to bed telling myself I can just try again tomorrow
selfie of a woman. text reads: PTSD looks like this. Just trying to get outta bed every damn day. Selfie of a woman. Text reads: Depending on the angle, you can see the sadness in my eyes.
  two girls spinning. text reads: I was in agony - my walking stick was out of shot but every twirl tasted like freedom
  woman. text reads: I wish I could hear my own voice instead of hearing his voice telling me I'm not good enough.
man. Text reads: Introverted, no real social life, no one to hang out with, no life, depressed. a woman playing guitar. the text reads: I just want to live out my dream and share my music with others...but my anxiety consumes me
  Woman, shirtless with her back to the camera. She has many tattoos. Text reads: I've hated myself and my body my entire life--until this year. Now I'm killing it.
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