Episode 91: Lying, by host, Laura Milkins. Our guest, Neil, tells the story of his depression, along with anxiety, PTSD, and bipolar diagnosis, and how seeking help in the midst of mental and physical heath issues requires persistence and the ability to navigate the systems of government. Sunday, August 26, 2018
The Lies We Tell When We Are Depressed
September 19, 2013 • Contributed by Cynthia W. Lubow, MS, MFT
Even the most honest people are faced with lying when they are depressed. This is yet another indignity adding to the suffering of depression. The most obvious and pervasive example is the frequent, daily question, “How are you?” It is a social convention to greet friends, strangers, and acquaintances with this question. Frankly, most of us lie in response to this question, or at least shade or limit the truth, because people generally don’t want to hear the true answer when they ask. Convention tells us to answer, “I’m fine, thanks; how are you?” For most people most of the time, this isn’t a big deal. It’s just a formality that facilitates greeting people, and is understood as a friendly hello. It’s not generally a problem because mostly people are fine, and don’t need to tell someone about the rash on their butt or the dog poo they stepped in.
But for a depressed person, the lies required for social convention are constant, and they create more and more isolation and separateness from other people. They reinforce a sense of having a shameful secret that no one wants to know or help them resolve. It reinforces a sense of being a burden or unlovable. All of these thoughts are common in depression, and to have them reinforced all day long by multiple people is crushing. Many people deal with it by isolating themselves from others if they can.
This is one of the most important reasons to find an experienced, qualified depression therapist when depression lasts longer than a few weeks. It’s essential to be able to tell someone the whole truth about how much you’re suffering, without concern that the person will discount you, disbelieve, judge, get distracted by fear about what you are saying, or respond with boredom, irritation, or impatience. As obvious as that may sound, not many people can do this for others.