Oftentimes, when someone is struggling with their mental health, they won’t come right out and say it. Some may hint at what they are feeling, hoping others pick up on the clues. Others may use language that means “I need help” without actually saying the words — because saying them can sometimes make it feel too real, or you might be afraid of how others will react.
No matter what reason someone has for using “code words,” it’s important we talk about what kinds of phrases to look out for. Talking about these phrases can help us identify loved ones who are struggling and get them to the resources and support they need.
To find out what people said when they were having a hard time with their mental health, we asked members of our Mighty community to share one thing they said that was really code for “I’m struggling today.”
Here’s what our community shared with us:
1. “I’m not feeling well.”
“It’s not untrue and I don’t have to explain myself. People automatically assume I have a cold or something.” — Mackenzie C.
“It’s true. Majority of the time, depression keeps me exhausted and anxietykeeps me awake, so I get no respite from my brain. Top that with the stress of nursing school, and I literally don’t feel well.” — Bria M.
2. “Well, I’m alive!”
“I just realized that whenever people ask me how I’m doing, I say, ‘Well, I’m alive!’ or ‘Well, I’m here!’ It’s basically my way of saying that somehow, I am still alive and carrying on even though I am so exhausted and fight every day.” — Kellyann N.
3. “I didn’t sleep well last night.”
“It’s more acceptable to be tired from a bad night’s sleep than it is to be too exhausted to deal with life today.” — Ciara L.
“It’s an immediate response I turn to because I’m just always tired of my depression, but I’m not the best at lying.” — Max W.
4. “Eh, you know.”
“No, they probably don’t. But are they still able to identify with you? One hundred percent. And that makes them think you’re OK.” — Josie S.
5. “It’s too much.”
“I say this whenever all my thoughts overwhelm me and I have no way of truly telling anyone how bad I really feel.” — Erin R.
6. “I’m exhausted.”
“Just not the kind that can be cured by sleep. Some days I get so tired of fighting to survive and don’t want to fight anymore.” — Alecia F.
“It’s the truth, every illness I have exhausts me to the core, but they usually brush it off as mom exhaustion (which also plays a part).” — Joanna G.
“‘I’m tired’ usually means a lot from not feeling well to being emotionally exhausted.” — Breeanna M.
7. “I’m just out of it today.”
“Code for: I really don’t feel myself right now and it’s scaring me. Those days don’t happen often but when they do, I’m afraid I’m relapsing and I will need to readjust my medication.” — Christa M.
8. “I’m fine.”
“‘I’m fine, honestly.’ There are many times I’ve been struggling and even though I’ve been asked if I’m OK, I just can’t always seem to be honest and explain that I’m not. Usually because I can’t even make sense of it myself to tell someone else. Then I kick myself afterwards for not saying something. Can’t win.” — Amy W.
“[For me], fine never means fine. If I’m vague like that, then I’m hurting but won’t admit it. If I’m good, I’ll say that but won’t openly admit to struggling.” — Jackie S.
9. “I’m bored.”
“Meaning that I’m so sick and tired and I’ve had too many struggles today and I don’t feel very good.” — Denisa
10. “I’m having an ‘off day.’”
“Code for I don’t feel like me today, today is harder than other days. I may not act like I need you checking in on me, but I actually really do.” — Jenna L.
“‘Off’ means I need time off from any responsibilities and wait for the feeling to pass. Hopefully.”
“I’m just a lil off. It’s my code for: ‘I feel like I’m imploding but I don’t want to burden you.’” — Jace P.
11. “I’m hanging in there.”
“Usually said because I don’t want to bother anyone with the things that are going on in my head.” — Katie S.
12. “I’ve been listening to music a lot today.”
“Music is how I get away from the nightmare in my head. And when I can’t listen to it, I’m just quiet. Unfortunately the people around me don’t recognize either of these. Ever.” — Megs G.
13. “I don’t want to be alone.”
“That’s when it’s really bad and I really need someone. Otherwise I’m usually silent and not my bubbly self.” — Milly S.
14. “I’m all good, don’t worry about it.”
“It’s just what I do. [I] don’t want others worrying about me — gotta help fix them before I fix me.” Alexis D.
15. “I just can’t today.”
“[When I’m] not feeling too good.” — Scarlett E.