The Many Faces I Hide Because of My PTSD

Some say that, in a day, we wear many hats. I am no different in that aspect. I am a mother, a daughter, a sister and a friend. I am an artist, a homeowner, a writer and a dog person. I also have an invisible disability. I have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). What this means is, much like layers of an onion, under the hats there are my faces.

There are my public faces — the ones I put on when I have to be social and somehow manage to get it together enough to mingle amongst the rest of humanity. These are the faces people are most familiar with. These are the happy, engaged, sometimes funny, always positive faces.

There are my “at home faces” — the ones that those only most intimate to me have seen. These are the worried brow lines, the circles under the eyes, the wide pupils in the midst of a panic attack and the exhausted weariness from a fight that never ends, day in and day out. There is always a war to fight inside my head. There is always a reason to analyze things in minute detail, just to remind myself I am present and everything will be OK.

Lastly, there are my private faces. These are the “ugly,” self-loathing, the swollen face from crying so hard you give yourself an asthma attack. Nobody sees these. I cannot even look in the mirror at these times for fear of what monster might be staring back at me.

close up of woman crying

There is one constant, however, that keeps all the layers from unraveling throughout every trial and tribulation. I am on the inside, deep down in my core, a good person. I am worthy of love and joy. I can rejoice in the small victories. I can win this fight.

Tonight is not one of those nights. Tonight weariness from the hard battles fought today is winning. So tonight I share an intimate glimpse because I know there are others who understand and who have retreated behind the carefully constructed faces as well.

You are not alone. We are all there sometimes.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Lead Thinkstock photo via Discha-AS. Image in article via contributor.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

therapist working with soldier living with post-traumatic stress disorder

How I Learned I Had PTSD After My 14 Consecutive Months in Combat

“Who am I?” Post-traumatic stress disorder — PTSD. I first heard those four letters shortly after my 14 consecutive months in combat. This was not just your run of the mill 14 months. They were 14 months filled with so many expletives that if I listed them all I would run out of the 18,000 [...]
Vector illustration of a psychological theme. The sad girl with seashell. Introvert

5 Things You Shouldn't Say to Someone Affected by Trauma

Experiencing a traumatic event and recovering from it isn’t easy. But what also isn’t easy is the stigma many face — some on a daily basis. Despite there being a staggering rise in mental health awareness, stigma is still prevalent. Considering one in four people will experience some form of mental health problem in their lifetime, it astounds [...]
Closeup of mom and daughter embracing on a park bench

I Wish I Was Able to Protect My Daughter From Her PTSD Triggers

Editor’s note: Daughter has given permission for this piece to be published. If you have experienced domestic or emotional abuse, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.  My daughter is diagnosed with PTSD. Did you know, statistically PTSD is more common in foster children [...]
blonde woman holding arms by sea with face covered by hair

6 Years Later: Living With PTSD From the 2011 Norway Terror Attacks

It is hard for me to describe what post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) feels like. Most people look at those four letters, and they think of what we see in the movies and TV — soldiers returned from war, still stuck in the war zone, and who from time to time can become violent because of flashbacks. [...]