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9 'White Lies' People With Anxiety Tell


Let’s face it: we’re all guilty of telling a little white lie every now and then. This is especially true for those us with anxiety. When your mind is riddled by anxiety, telling tiny fibs to get out of a triggering situation seems like the best and only option.

Anxiety can be hard to explain, especially for someone who doesn’t know what it’s like. I’ll admit that I’ve lied about being sick just to get out of going to a dinner party. When it comes to protecting myself around my anxiety triggers, I try my hardest. And sometimes, that means telling a white lie.

We wanted to know what “white lies” people tell because of their anxiety, so we asked our mental health community to share one lie they tell and why they tell it.

If you are living with anxiety and find yourself telling white lies, just know you’re not alone. Your feelings are valid — and hopefully you’re surrounding by people you can be a little more honest with.

Here’s what our community shared:

1. “I’m sick.”

“I use this one a lot when I just can’t function because of my anxiety and need to take off of work or whatever else.” — Natalie.

“‘I just don’t feel that great today, something with my stomach.’ In all reality, my anxiety just overcomes me and makes me think I don’t want to go out and enjoy something.” — Maggie S.

2. “I’m fine.”

“I will often say, ‘I’m fine.’ I’m rarely fine when I say it. I hate making other people worry or get upset, so I do it to spare them from feeling bad.” — Jennifer T.

“I always say, ‘I’m OK,  I’m fine, nothing’s wrong.’ I also try to change the conversation back to the other person and talk about something other than myself.” — Ashley L.

“‘I’m fine.’ — it’s a lot easier to say rather than trying to explain my feelings and potentially being judged.” — Sarah S.

3. “I drank too much coffee.”

“This is going to sound weird, but I say that I drank a lot of caffeine. It’s easier to explain my fast talking, anxious movements, panicked look, shaky hands and fast heart rate if it’s caused by some understandable substance versus something you can’t see.” — Christina S.

“‘I drank too much coffee.’ In reality, I’m just anxious and don’t want to be out in public.” — Kali D.

4. “I’m just tired.”

“‘I’m just tired.’ It explains being quiet and gives me a good reason to leave without explaining myself.” — Tia J.

“I say this because most of the time, I don’t have the energy to explain how I feel. Most of the time, they don’t get it/understand it. I feel like nothing is going to change or be done if I say what’s really wrong, anyway.” — Maddie D.

“I say this because a lot of times when I was feeling anxious when I was younger, my mother would just tell me that I was tired whenever I would start to cry and feel overwhelmed. She would tell me to just go to sleep and I would cry myself to sleep. I have a tendency to do that now, even as a 30-year-old. It’s hard to do that when it’s 10 in the morning or you’re in the middle of work.” — Gregoria R.

Need a non-judgmental place to talk about anxiety? Download our app and connect with others using the hashtag #Anxiety.

5. “I’m busy.”

“That ‘I’m busy.’ Typically, that’s code for I’m struggling and I’m busy trying to keep any amount of sanity I have left in me. It sucks when it completely controls me. So sick of it all.” — Kaylyn W.

“‘Sorry I can’t make it, something has come up.’ Nothing’s come up except my social anxiety.” — Adele H.

“‘Sorry I can’t come tonight, I have to work early tomorrow.’” — Alex M.

6. “I’m feeling better.”

“That I ‘am feeling better.’ I never feel better. I always feel bad. When people tell me to feel better, I just say thanks because they just don’t get it.” — Chanelle C.

“This often translates to ‘I’m barely hanging on.’ My closest friends and family can usually tell the white lie for what it is, but as a teacher I can’t always let that side of me show. I need to be the strong one in the room, which is an exhausting task when the anxiety is high.” — Kara D.

7. “I just have a headache.”

“I get a lot of migraines. However, if anxiety is taking over, I will cancel plans and crawl into bed and use the excuse of a migraine to avoid explaining what is really happening. The migraine is more believable to be people who don’t know or who don’t want to know about my mental issues. I don’t like to lie, but it’s just easier.” — Sara G.

“I usually just say I have a migraine because although it isn’t a lie, it’s easier than explaining that I have tons of things running through my mind and I can’t pinpoint exactly what’s wrong with me.” — Ashley R.

8. “I overslept.”

“I was only late to work because I overslept, even though I woke up an hour early just to be on time, and then sat on the edge of the bed for half an hour trying to prepare myself for human contact, only to be late to work yet again. Honestly, I’ve ran out of excuses for being late.” — Toriva B.

9. “Never mind, it’s not important.”

“If I speak up, I often back out of the conversation by saying it didn’t matter. Because of the anxiety, I don’t usually speak up unless it is important. I’m so afraid of confrontation that I’ll instantly regret saying anything and pretend it doesn’t matter.” — Phaedra M.

“I say it to everything until I boil over and can’t handle it anymore. I know it’s not healthy, but a lot of people depend on me to be strong and I can’t let them down. But no one ever asks if the person making sure everyone else is OK is all right themselves.” — Autumn C.

What “white lie” do you tell because of your anxiety? Tell us in the comments below.

Unsplash via Kristina Flour