Putting Up the Facade
Personally, I think facade is such an awesome word. Granted, it’s from the French but not everything can be perfect can it? (I have a degree in French, so I think I’m allowed to say that!) Still, it’s an amazing word. By definition, it means: a front or outer appearance, especially a deceptive one. At least, that’s the definition that I’m using.
I’ve talked before in my journey about how I put up a mask, a facade of sorts. It’s my way of keeping my depression hidden, my feelings all bottled in so that no one will notice. As my goddaughter is a huge Frozen fan, the phrase “don’t let them in, don’t let them see” springs to mind. Whether you would associate that with Frozen or not, it’s what I do. It’s a coping mechanism, allowing me to have those moments of privacy, without people asking what’s wrong and risking accentuating the problem.
Really, the facade is a lifeline, allowing me to try and convince you that I’m fine. I talked about that back in November, when I talked about how I smile even though things might be bad. The facade saves me, fools you and, consequently, fools me a little too. Daft, I know, but it works.
“Why Don’t You Drop the Facade?”
I’ve lost count of the number of times people ask me this or I’ve heard other people struggling with this problem, so it’s about time I address it. It’s one of the hardest concepts for people who aren’t going through mental health struggles have to face. They don’t understand it, which is something we need to address. So here I am, let’s look.
It must be hard, seeing your sibling/partner/spouse/parent/child going through mental health struggles. They want to make it better, to bring them some measure of comfort or to fix it. That said, it’s not something they can necessarily fix, as I’ve said before. It must be even harder, though, for them to want to help but be greeted with that rock-solid facade of pretence that hides how they’re truly feeling. It must be difficult.
I once heard of someone who really didn’t understand why their spouse would put up the front. They were married, why did they need a facade? Surely they could be open and honest about it without the need of that wall of pretence?
Simply put: it’s necessary.
We can’t just drop the facade.
It’s a part of us.
My Mask and Me
As I’ve talked about in Masks and Masquerades, putting on a mask is part of the coping mechanisms that some of us employ in order to get through the day. In my case, if I can convince you that I’m alright then I stand a chance of being able to convince myself that I’m alright. It doesn’t always work but it’s one of the ways that I can try and get through.
For others, they will have different reasons why they put on the mask. Some will put it on to stave off any unwanted questions – that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try and talk to them about it, though. Others put it on because someone asking them how they are is the easiest way for them to go to pieces. For every person, it’s a different reason and I couldn’t even begin to list them all here. One thing remains true for all of us , though, no matter why we do it…
The mask is part of us.
There comes a point in our struggles when we become used to the mask. Putting that facade up is almost habitual, something we can do without thinking and, as such, it becomes hard to take it off again. Yes, people would appreciate it but sometimes it’s what we need to get us through the day. Sometimes we just don’t have the strength to take it off because of how much a part of us it is.
My example comes directly from me, where people have asked me to take my mask off. My mask is there because I use it to cope, to get through the day, and it’s easier maintaining a front than explaining how I’m feeling and why I’m feeling that way. Sometimes explaining those things can be incredibly difficult. I know I offer loads of explanations but, realistically, it’s something I can do from behind a computer screen as I can take my time, I don’t have to see the expressions on people’s faces.
A Simple Suggestion
If you’re a friend or family member struggling with this concept of a mask and how they put the mask on, I’d encourage you to simply be accepting of it. At some point they might feel able to drop the facade and let you see that they’re hurting but it’s not always the case. Sometimes that facade might be the only thing standing between them keeping it together and them falling apart. So please be understanding and accepting that sometimes that’s what they need.
The facade, the mask is part of them.
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