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What is honesty and how does it affect your mental health?

Community Champion
Community Champion

I want to discuss what honesty means to you and your health.

People say that they fake being well, or wear a mask so no one knows their pain.Is this being honest.

When we do not admit our flaws and our behaviours does this make it harder to have insight into our illness and harder to get better?

Do we need to be honest with ourselves and others in order to be well.?

Honesty can be a very subjective personal word. What one people feels is being honest another may feel is not.

For many years I was in denial about my illness so I would admit to myself I was ill, I was not honest.

So what does honesty mean to you? So lets start a conversation. All ideas welcome.

Everyone is welcome to comment, new posters, regular posters, I want everyone's ideas.


213 Replies 213

Dear Nat;

(Thanks Quirky for this very interesting and valuable thread. Shout-outs to members who've posted and those reading as well)

Of all the posts on this thread, yours (Nat) concerns me the most. I hear a very vulnerable person beneath the surface. Please, if you need support don't hesitate to ask.

You've been brutally honest and I so appreciate this. I and others can't help if we're in the dark; right?

No-one can predict how people will take your comments, whether true or not. Truth and honesty's a combination of fact, belief, will and courage. Most of all though, 'INTENT' must be acknowledged.

If I tell someone a lie to make them feel better, is this acceptable? Or is it doing myself and/or them a disservice? I've had to learn the fine line between saving myself and saving 'them'; that's where intent comes into play.

Sometimes we speak automatically without realising the consequences of our words until it's too late. We do it so often, it becomes part of our default. One of the hardest habits to overcome is harming ourselves to save others from the truth.

When someone asks how I am, I usually say "fine". If I'm not ok, I'll awkwardly smile and shrug my shoulders. As Smallwolf says; it opens the door for an interested communicator to comment. If they don't, I breathe deeply from disappointment and let it go. It's not up to me to force them to care. The one's that do, I appreciate all the more.

This attitude of mine wasn't always like that. Asking how I was turned into a barrage of panic and purging. I'm embarrassed to admit my tormented responses from back then, but it is what it is and can't be removed. I apologised to those I respect and it's water under the bridge. To others, I'm just a crazy bitch. Pfft...whatever!

What I'm saying Nat, is that guilt and shame for wanting to be truthful, but needing to save 'them' from it, is bloody detrimental to your recovery. If you're going to lie, (and we all do it) do it for yourself ok!

We don't have to be accountable for how others feel. Do they give us this benefit? Sigh.. I could name most of my family in this category. 'Honestly'; screw them! I have to get up every day and look at myself in the mirror. I'm it! My biggest supporter. Why would I hurt myself for their sake?

Sorry, I'm concerned for your well being and angry at the thought that those in your life wouldn't appreciate 'your' truth.

I'll leave it there..

Take care hun...Gentle and kind;

Sez xo

Community Champion
Community Champion

Hello to everyone reading and posting


thanks for your comment. I agree gettinhelp early is better but my story as different . I was diagnosed within a year of my symptoms but because I wasnt ready to accept the diagnosis maybe as way back then as not a lot of information, little support and loads of stigma .

I now know and encourage people to seek help early. Admitting you need help then seeking that help takes courage and knowledge.


Hello everyone reading,


thanks for your very insightful post that raises many question and your concern for Nat shines through.

Intent as has been mentioned before, really is so important.

I agree to lying so that saves someone else from being hurt can be detrimental.

You have raised many interesting points that I need more time to think about.

Thanks again Sez your sensitive and detailed approach to my thread . Your honesty is something I have always admired in you.


Community Champion
Community Champion


You last statement is right on point. At different stages of my life there were moments (now) that I recognize as anxiety. Additionally, there were times when I would jump (psychologically) from a blue to a red zone, and not associate that with anxiety or depression. That is a educational and/or recognition related issue. I had to hit, what was for me, rock bottom before I looked for help and probably the right time, if that were possible. That is, rather than merely thinking that I would get over it, I finally understood that something was amiss. It could be argued then that I got help early. It is a long and slow journey, but necessary.


Hi Quirky; (and those reading/posting)

Thanks for your kind comments hun. Your topics for discussion always hit pay dirt! 🙂

I want to add my thoughts about being honest with ourselves. We can't be totally honest about issues that aren't yet out in the open; for instance, beliefs/knowledge about right and wrong that've been skewed by toxic parenting.

That's why we promote forgiveness on BB; when recovery kicks in, it can jolt us into the realisation of how immature, ignorant or blind we've been. Trying to learn new behaviours or undo dysfunctional beliefs is long, hard work.

Even though we're being as honest as we can, we don't really know for sure if that's 'our' truth or 'a' truth.

An important part of recovery's facing and accepting what lies beneath, it can be personally devastating. I considered myself a victim for a rape I went thru over 35 yrs ago.

During a psych session last yr I finally admitted I'd blamed myself all along. Whew...that was really tough to come to terms with. I had to grieve for the 'me' I was then, to a lie I'd convinced myself was true.

I was being honest in both cases. I shoved my tortured feelings so far down they became invisible. I then proclaimed the most popular opinion as my truth because it was easier to face.

Who wants to feel responsible for such an event? The way I see it, I saved myself from an internal death using ignorance as my tool. It had to be that way; I was too vulnerable at that time.

We survive the best way we can. It might not be honest, but it gets us back into our lives with our sanity intact; at least for a time.

My uncle's a pathological liar. His lies are legendary. I refuse to enable his behaviour. Are others right or wrong to appease him? Is ignorance bliss? Should I have more empathy for him considering his upbringing?

This was hard to write...


Hello all


Thank you writing that post even though it was hard to write. I found it hard and emotional to read and am tearing up.

I feel in my innocence and naivety I may have simplified a complex topic.

These are very important words

We survive the best way we can. It might not be honest but it gets us back into our lives with our sanity intact: at least for a time.

What a moving and powerful piece of writing. I run out of words to express ho I get affected by your words.

I dn't see there is an absolute thing as honesty or eve truth,

We tell ourselves things so we can survive as you have pointed out.

Sez, yiu a real treasure in the forum for your vulnerability and your honesty even when it i uncomfortable for you to express.

Thanks for the perspective you have communicated and helping us to understand the process of honesty in recovery.

Sez, sending the kindes thoughts.


Me again,

Did you oversimplify a complex question? Possibly.

Is it a worthwhile discussion? Yes. Why? We get different perspectives on the topic. These are complex matters but worthy of discussion.

Let me give you an example...

When I had to explain what I was going through to my wife., I began by asking

Do you know what anxiety and depression really are?

Her reply was no. So I then explained what it meant in my situation. But your situation might be different.

We also tend to have shallow understanding of these issues and then think we know all the answers.

So when you ask about honesty it is contextual.people will lie at work to save their own butt. They will not be honest because of the consequences. And yet much pain could be avoided if they were aware of the impact of their actions.

There have been so excellent points raised here

'An important part of recovery's facing and accepting what lies beneath, it can be personally devastating, and to proclaim the most popular opinion as my truth because it was easier to face', that's exactly what happens when you try and get well by yourself, it's impossible you only go around in circles.

'Getting help for mental health only works when you’re ready to really accept the help being offered to you.'

'We tell ourselves things so we can survive' so we don't delve into those hard facts that we are pushing away.

To try and explain to my wife why I suffering from depression was difficult because everything I said she refused to accept and to mention if it involved her was a no-no, that's why I didn't say any more to her.

It's true we have to hit rock bottom before we realise help is needed. Geoff.

Hello everyone

Smallwolf , this must be the first time in my life I have oversimplified a complex topic. I usually am known for complicating a simple topic.

I suppose when I write a thread it is like a full tightly wound ball of wool that we gradually unwind. I can't write everything at the start so I just start with some toughts and leave it to others to run with the baton, as everyone has done.

Geoff, thanks for your summary. I too found it hard to explain to my ex husband about my bipolar. He would say I know all that I read an article, but why can't you make tea and make the children be quiet.

I look forward to more unravelling of this ball of thread.


Dear Quirky;

Sometimes I wonder if my painful and honest posts are 'too much'. Yet when I read responses such as yours it's worth the worry. Thankyou for your beautiful reply; it must've been difficult to grasp my story as personally insightful.

You've expressed yourself to me in a way that shows how vulnerable we all are. I'm sorry you teared up, but experiencing those ah-ha moments needs to be emotional, otherwise we don't take notice.

Recovery's more than an uncomfortable journey, it's hellish at times. Digging away at our wounds and scars will test the strongest of us. Those who choose to stay put instead of continuing on to unravel their past and challenge themselves to change, won't get a bad word from me. It's a bloody tough gig!

Your moment of emotional empathy portrays something very tender and caring in you. Can you be honest enough to accept this as greatness, or strength of character? Not everyone can reveal their vulnerability; they're open, exposed for all to witness.

Providing your honest feedback on this forum shows others we're here to help them heal thru our own healing process. What could be more honest that this? You deserve the role of Community Champion indeed Quirky. xo

Hi Smallwolf;

What you explained very well is the difference between honesty and dishonesty. Again, intent comes into play.

Approaching your wife as you did, was not only honest but courageous and very trusting considering you didn't know what her response would be. I'm happy it worked out for you both.

On the other hand, the workplace can test our resolve with intensity. Bullies and sociopaths are rife in upper management, and some subordinates are cowardous 'yes' men who frustrate us to no end.

How do we protect ourselves against such destructive behaviour? I've learned to survive any way I can. There were times I lied to avoid their unrelenting targeting and intimidation.

I feel no guilt or remorse for my dishonesty. When trust is eroded, no amount of honest intent can defeat those self promoting criminals; it's survival of the fittest. I'm not sure of your specifics though so I can't really comment on what you're talking about, but I do empathise with you; absolutely.

Kind thoughts;