The burden of keeping PTSD "secret"

I do not keep it a secret at all. My diagnosis does not define who I am. It is a part of me.
I am a queer person of color. I do not keep it a secret either. I personally don't know any queer person in the closet. It's 2023. We don't keep our sexuality or gender identity a secret. We fight for our rights. Out and proud.
I also advocate for people with behavioral health challenges. It empowers people like me. If anyone has a problem with it, it is their problem and not mine.
Whatever I do, it becomes a part of community advocacy in equity, social justice and inclusiveness. Especially people like me. BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities.
Self-advocating also reduces stigma and isolation. It educates people who don't know much about PTSD. And it builds understanding and acceptance.
 
I've always kept it a secret: at work, in my neighbourhood, from acquaintances and friends I'm not close to.
That’s potentially appropriate. Unless there’s some benefit to you from telling them - people typically don’t share their medical conditions with everyone.

I go by “what do I want them to do with the information”? That helps me determine both what I should tell them, and how I should tell them. If the answer to that question is “nothing” - then it’s probably none of their business.
I feel like it's this double life,
Can you flip this? What’s normal? How much do people really share their difficult medical issues with the people around them? Or things that may not be well understood by the people around them?

As a rule, we usually know very little about the things that people around us are struggling with privately. Social media has really just amplified this - people share the good stuff, the fun stuff, the successes, the likeable, the happy, the functional.

That’s totally okay. It doesn’t mean they’re living a double life, or being underhanded or deceptive - it just means that they’re selective about the people they want to be vulnerable with.
 
I feel that it’s a big, dirty, evil secret. I feel this need to share with someone that I have CPTSD or explain what happened but I also wouldn’t dream of telling anyone such private information.

It’s a very conflicting feeling. It sounds like you might also be struggling with this inner conflict.

I guess we need to think about and discover what we want. Do we really want someone to know? What reaction do we expect or want from them? How will things change after you’ve told them? Do you think you will have a better or worse view of yourself after opening up?
 
I don't advertise it, nor do I try to lie about it.
I know I have behaviours and reactions to things that are irrational. No matter how hard I've tried over the years to "blend in", sometimes I'm a little nuts.

The way I see it, it's super obvious to everyone around me that "something" is wrong with me.
So anyone who cares enough to inquire, might as well have the accurate information from the source, rather than forcing everyone to armchair psychoanalyze me from those times they saw me lose my shit over something silly.
If someone is uncomfortable around someone with a mental illness, I have no control over that. I can only control how much I let them bother me.

I've heard heard some of the rumour mill theories about me over the years. Ha!
Never even close.

It probably depends on the specific social settings or culture one is immersed in, but my experience has been that most people upon hearing PTSD, just say "oh ok". Sometimes they ask why, but that's easy enough to keep to a five word explanation like "I was in an accident".
I've also learned how to say "no" to providing more details than I want to.

Again, this is my subjective experience, so take it with a grain of salt.

I guess to put it simply: Since I can't hide it, why hide it?
 
I do keep it secret and I find that a burden because I think I must seem weird to others because I'm long term single and have few friends. That in itself is stigmatising.

But if I told people, I think there is is some risk of misunderstanding how PTSD can present differently in different people, but I'd be more worried about the stigma attached to sexual abuse.

The other thing is that it would make me vulnerable to further abuse.

I do tell people that I get anxious if I feel a need to offer some explanation. Anxiety seems to explain on a level that people might understand better, has less stigma and avoids any questions or conversations that might reveal abuse.
I'm the same I keep the PTSD symptoms and past abuse and trauma to myself and this has its own difficulties because I feel that I'm holding it in side and that makes me feel alone and it's hard but I also feel that it's best as I don't want the label of abuse victim to make the rest of my life

I do keep it secret and I find that a burden because I think I must seem weird to others because I'm long term single and have few friends. That in itself is stigmatising.

But if I told people, I think there is is some risk of misunderstanding how PTSD can present differently in different people, but I'd be more worried about the stigma attached to sexual abuse.

The other thing is that it would make me vulnerable to further abuse.

I do tell people that I get anxious if I feel a need to offer some explanation. Anxiety seems to explain on a level that people might understand better, has less stigma and avoids any questions or conversations that might reveal abuse.
I do think I'd like to talk more about the condition etc symptoms etc life,with someone who has the same life as me so please get back to me if you want to chat
 
I do think I'd like to talk more about the condition etc symptoms etc life,with someone who has the same life as me so please get back to me if you want to chat
I’d suggest starting a thread, if there’s any specific -or broader- aspect you’d like to talk about with others. A trauma diary if you’d like to keep the focus on your own life.
 
Do you keep your PTSD secret from most people in your life?

For me, my close friends know, my Drs and therapist know, the one person I keep in touch with from my family of origin knows... and that's basically it.

I've always kept it a secret: at work, in my neighbourhood, from acquaintances and friends I'm not close to.

While it has some obvious social advantages to people not knowing that I have PTSD / a mental health issue, it also has some major disadvantages. In many ways, I feel like it's this double life, much in the way that people used to (and of course in many cases still have to/ choose to) keep it a secret that they're gay and pretend to nearly everyone around them that they are straight, except for a small circle of friends...

Oh yeah, I guess I forgot that aspect too... Much like there's a gay scene/ community, where it's possible to be out without being out on a wider societal level, I guess there's also a mental health scene - group therapy, this forum, etc... where you talk to other people openly who you also know have PTSD/ a mental health issue/ depression/ are doing therapy.

(I really, really, really hope I've not worded this in a way that's offensive - I truly do NOT somehow mean to equate having a mental health issue and being gay - it's just that "secret" aspect that both things have in common - keeping mental health stuff a secret reminds me of growing up as a teen and in my twenties and having gay friends living that whole secret/ coming out/ telling their parents journey... I see so many parallels)

Anyway, I'm wondering (and also assuming) that many/ most here keep their PTSD secret from the world in general... Apart from a few brave souls, probably, that are just totally open about it and refuse to accept the stigma and taboo - and good on them! Cos honestly, I think people who are open and honest about that are brilliant - cos it truly is NOT anything to be ashamed about... And they're such great rolemodels to prove that it can be done... Tho I think it's really an attitude and strength thing... If you are strong and convey to people that they'd better not treat you like crap just cos you're being honest about your PTSD... then people don't tend to treat you like crap, cos they can tell that you're not gonna have any of it... I don't think I exude that kind of natural confidence about it, which is why I think people *would* treat me badly about it in some cases - cos they can tell that I've not got that inner "f*ck off" attitude about it...

So, do you mostly keep it a secret?

Do you also find it a burden, even if it does have some advantages?
Having heavy secrets or needing a hide a part of self can be a big burden whatever reason, whether it's pstd or being a member of lbtq community. There are propably alot individuals who need to hide both kind of secrets to survive
 
do think I'd like to talk more about the condition etc symptoms etc life,with someone who has the same life as me so please get back to me if you want to chat
You're definitely on the right forum for talking more to people that may experience similar symptoms.

I personally don't share very much anywhere, not even on the forums, because the fear of sharing more openly and making myself more vulnerable is very much part of the adult traumas I've experienced and it triggers feelings of trauma and all the panic and thought distortion that a repeat of those traumas are imminent because I've made myself vulnerable by sharing.
 
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