The Mighty Logo

The Many Faces I Hide Because of My PTSD

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

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.

• What is PTSD?

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.

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

Originally published: August 10, 2017
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home