17 Lies People With Anxiety Tell


In today’s society, there are often a lot of unsaid expectations that we need to “act a certain way” or “get X, Y and Z done.” But when you’re struggling with anxiety that can sometimes be overwhelming and debilitating, it can be incredibly difficult to meet those expectations.

That’s why we might tell “lies” as a way to cover up what we’re going through, to make sure others aren’t worried about us or to portray ourselves as “productive” and “high-functioning” so we don’t let others — or ourselves — down.

This is why we asked our Mighty mental health community to share with us some lies they tell when they’re struggling with anxiety — because these lies don’t make someone struggling with anxiety a “liar,” but are often just a sign that someone is having a particularly difficult time, and perhaps doesn’t know how to talk about it.

Here is what they had to say:

1. “I’m excited!”

“I say I’m excited about something to hide the fact that I’m actually super nervous about it. When my anxiety is high I can put on a smiley face and outwardly look excited; but inside, I’m dying.” — Jill A

“I say I’m really excited so people don’t think I’m acting weird. I lie to myself saying I’m in total control. In reality, I’m totally out of control and dying inside.” — Tanya S.

2. “I’m not feeling well.”

“I find it easier if I tell people I have a cold or I’m sick because they understand that. To say, ‘My mind is going into overdrive and I feel I’m spinning out of control,’ doesn’t sound like an illness, it sounds fake; so I lie and tell people I’m physically ill instead of mentally ill.” — Lizzy D.

“I just say I’m tired or not feeling well, which isn’t entirely false. Feeling [anxious] does that to me, especially now that my heart keeps feeling like it’s going to stop at night.” — Heather J.

“‘I’m sick with a headache,’ or ‘[I] pulled a muscle.’ That way I can be alone in my bed with the door shut. It’s easier for others to understand that than to make them understand anxiety.” — Mandi H.

3. “I’m fine.”

“I don’t want people to think I’m always complaining or upset. I hate showing I’m upset, so I fake it, even though I’m freaking out on the inside.” — Alyssa B.

“I hate upsetting anyone else and don’t see myself as important enough to have anyone worry about me. When I say I’m fine, I’m never fine.” — Jennifer T.

“I feel like I have this pressure on myself because I’m always viewed as the mature, ‘level-headed,’ calm one in my group (at work or with friends), so if anyone notices I’m ‘off,’ I just brush it off as ‘it’s nothing, I’m fine,” or “just tired” — when really I just want to open up and tell someone how stressed/anxious I am, how I’m worrying about (probably) minor stuff. Just to have one day as not being the ‘go-to guy,’ but I’d rather not have anyone worried about me.” — Chris D.

“It’s a bold-face lie, as I don’t even remember what ‘fine’ feels like. I guess this is my new ‘fine?’ Time to adjust the mid-line, I guess.” — Ck D.

“Out of the billions of worries I have, the biggest one is people worrying about me and my worries.” — Shelby O.

4. “I’m just tired.”

“It’s way easier than trying to make somebody understand something you don’t even understand, especially when you get the: ‘Well you have so much to be happy about.’” — Nikki L.

“Sometimes it’s easier to tell my boss I’m tired rather than facing the reality that I’m tired of my job. I hate saying this but it does the trick. Whoever I’m saying this to will usually walk away.” — Rilla W.

“I always just say I’m tired when my anxiety has sucked up all of my energy and motivation. It’s easier than explaining that I’ve been worrying all day about something or that I’m feeling anxious.” — Kalei L.

“Most of the time I am actually tired, but it’s because I’ve been fighting with myself since I woke up” — Chelsea S.

5. “I’m just stressed.”

“It is easier to say this since nobody understands anyway, and [they] think I lie or I am ‘dramatic.’ I feel a constant fear of my life, kind of like I was living in a zombie apocalypse and the fear level is so high that you can’t breathe and your heart is racing because you could die any time.” — Sali B.

“I tell them I’m just tired and stressed and need to catch up on some rest before I do anything. This works for most scenarios.” — Abigail K.

6. “I just don’t feel like talking much right now.”

“I don’t want to bother anyone with my racing thoughts.” — Katie R.

7. “I’m OK.”

“Nobody needs the burden of having to deal with my existence.” — Breanna A.

“[I say], ‘I’m OK or I’m fine,’ and then I smile or laugh it off, because I feel like I have to keep it all to myself so I won’t bother anyone or cause any worries to other people.” — Lorlin P.

“I try to force myself to hide it, and just tell everyone that I’m OK, when in reality I’m absolutely shattered and can no longer function.” — Lindsay L.

8. “I didn’t see you called…”

“When I don’t want to get out of bed and just want to be alone I’ll say, ‘Sorry my phone was dead,’ or, ‘I didn’t see you called I must not have been paying attention.’ I always try to play ditzy or just plain forgetful. I always do it so they think I was doing something productive or fun. I feel like if I tell them I saw their message or call but just couldn’t respond they’ll think I’m just being dramatic for attention. I know that’s wrong but I can’t help it.” — Kylie B.

9. “I had a rough night.”

“I tell people I just had a rough night the night before, or that I just need a moment to gather myself. I say this so they don’t worry. It bothers me when people worry about me when they could have worse problems than mine. In reality, every night is rough and I need more than a moment to gather myself.” — Shayna K.

“I say, ‘I’m just crabby today. I didn’t sleep well’ because it’s better than explaining why I want to scream my lungs out due to my anxiety of having a messy house.” — Reba E.

“‘I had a bad night last night,’ because it’s not a true lie. I could mean a multitude of different things — from I didn’t sleep well to I was battling myself all night” — Alyson S.

10. “I have a migraine.”

“I have a migraine — because I usually do with my anxiety. Migraines are sometimes easier to understand than anxiety for people who do not have anxiety.” — Kristal K.

“[I] do get migraines, so it isn’t ‘crazy.’ And for my current management if I say the truth, they understand. But I hold the migraine excuse for when they leave me.” — Jennifer C.

11. ”I watched something that made me cry.”

“It’ll explain the puffy eyes I got for crying all night for no definite reason, just my anxiety kicking.” — Elle L.

12. “I am good, just going to [a friend’s] house.”

“[This means] I am not well, so I am going to go and drink by myself to ease the anxiety and pain.” — Zach J.

13. “I’m just having a bad day.”

“[I] just tell them I’m having a bad day, because no one understands how I feel.” — Annie G.

14. “I’ve got it under control.”

“I say I’ve got it under control so I don’t have to hear someone say ‘just get over it’ or ‘you’re fine’ — because in those moments, I’m not fine. I just get tired of some of the assumptions that I hear.” — Shana S.

15. “I’ll be OK.”

“‘I’ll be OK — I don’t have another option.’ I keep fighting because if I give up, I’ll let everyone down. I say I’ll be fine so they don’t worry.” — Vee E.

16. “I’m busy.”

“When I’m going out with my friends and anxious to go, I tell my friends I have a lot of house chores to do and my mom won’t allow me to go out. It’s the most valid reason.” — Hannah B.

17. “My head is just a bit loud today.”

“I don’t tell them it’s so loud that I can barely concentrate on what anyone else is saying. I don’t tell them I’m stuck in a Bell jar and can’t get out.” — Silvana M.

What helps you be more honest with friends and family when you’re struggling with anxiety? Tell us in the comments below.

Getty image via triocean


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


Related to Anxiety

The Lies Anxiety Tells Me When I'm Dating Someone

I went on a fourth date Saturday night. It went well. My service dog wasn’t there since it was at his place and I hadn’t asked about pet rules at his place (he doesn’t live in an apartment complex, rather just a basement of a house). It was OK though. I didn’t pass out, I [...]

Why We Shouldn't Attack Katy Perry for Sharing What Helps Her Anxiety

On Monday, Katy Perry tweeted how she deals with her anxiety. She takes a breath through her nose and out her mouth. Simple, right? Well, for some Twitter followers, it was too simple, and they were quick to call her out. Some sarcastically said Perry “cured” their anxiety with her words of wisdom. Cured. Thanks [...]

17 'Small,' but Significant, Lifestyle Changes That Help People With Anxiety

While it’s easy — and understandable — to roll your eyes when someone offers a “miracle cure” for your anxiety (Yes! I have tried yoga! Thanks for asking!!), it’s also important to acknowledge this truth: There are day-to-day changes you can make that might help you manage your anxiety. We’re not talking about a miracle [...]

When Anxiety Makes Finding Your Soul Mate Seem Impossible

My anxiety tends to paint a doubtful picture of my future, causing me to question the plausibility of my hopes and dreams. These wishes of mine, which are meant to hearten, are instead laden with fear. My thoughts begin to race as I wonder: “Will I one day be able to hold a full-time job? [...]