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5 Ways I Fake Normalcy to the Outside World

October 16, 2019 Megan Rahm

I fake normalcy because having a mental illness is isolating and makes me feel different. Facing the outside world can be difficult. Here are five coping methods (positive and negative) I noticed I do when I leave the house that help me fake normalcy.

How I Fake Normalcy with a Mental Illness -- 5 Ways

  1. Putting On a Smile -- I lack a poker face. I really wear my emotions visibly. However, one thing I can usually pull off is a big cheesy smile and laugh. It's a front but it can come off as welcoming. For someone who feels uncomfortable in social situations, sometimes it feels like my only defense.
  2. Avoiding Going Out Alone -- I get very anxious when I leave my house alone. Even a quick trip to Target can be overwhelming. I feel like everyone is looking at me and the constant stream of negative thoughts defeats me. If my husband's around, I always take him with me. He's a buffer between me and the outside world. I dread shopping alone but sometimes shopping with my husband can even be fun. He really puts me at ease.
  3. Dodging Mental Health Conversations -- As an advocate, I rally to normalize conversations about mental health, but when you are out there face-to-face with others, talking about mental health -- even when it's not your mental health -- can leave you feeling exposed and judged. It's hard to do it alone. If I'm out on my own I avoid the topic.
  4. Acting Interested -- This might sound harsh, but to seem normal I act interested even when I'm not. However, I'm guessing everyone does this to some extent. I find it hard to focus and pay attention over my own intrusive thoughts, but I try my best.
  5. "Fake It 'til You Make It" -- I'm banking on the saying, "fake it 'til you make it." The more you do something the more natural it will feel. I'm hoping one day (possibly with practice) I will feel normal in the outside world -- symptomatic or not.

I spend a lot of time worrying about looking normal, but deep down I know faking normalcy is really not important. Even if it's not acknowledged, mental illness is normal.

Do you fake normalcy in public? Share your methods of faking normalcy in the comments below.

APA Reference
Rahm, M. (2019, October 16). 5 Ways I Fake Normalcy to the Outside World, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, January 28 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2019/10/5-ways-i-fake-normalcy-to-the-outside-world



Author: Megan Rahm

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Karen m. Bjellum
October, 23 2022 at 2:21 am

I have bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, and depression. Recently I have been bullied, had my apartment broken in to, identity theft, my phones has been hacked, and my cats and I have been chronically poisoned by someone I offended when I was in a manic phase. Actually, it was three different medical professionals that I filed multiple complaints with state medical boards, senators, and one was fired because he had prescribed me fentanyl for six years without sending me to oncology. The police and fire department don't believe me because it have mental illnesses. The local doctors won't help because it was their buddy who got fired. I live in the fargo, ND area. Small town politics. I need help. My hair and nails and blood will prove to anyone I'm not crazy. Even my cats have been sick, and one died.

October, 24 2022 at 5:41 pm

Hi Karen. That's a truly awful thing to go through, and I'm so sorry you've had to endure these struggles. I notice you didn't mention speaking to a mental health professional, and I recommend giving that route a try. Not only will they be able to make sure you're getting support for your mental wellbeing, they may be able to offer guidance on how to best address what you're going through. HealthyPlace has a great list of resources to choose from, which you can check out here: https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-refer…
I wish you peace.

Annie
October, 23 2019 at 11:54 am

This is a good topic for me. When I feel awful, I think others look at me and can tell - what?
That I'm depressed? It's worse than that. I fear they think I have some kind of fatal flaw.
So what I do is stand up as straight and tall as I can, which for some reason makes me proud of who I am, composed, and able to deal with whatever comes my way. Maybe this is my way to 'fake it till you make it'. I don't have to act like a grovelly little 8-yr. old. I'm a competent, intelligent woman. So there! to the world that sometimes frightens me.

janice
October, 22 2019 at 1:52 am

The best way to "fake normalcy" for me is to be as authentic as I feel comfortable being. I have found my life way too complicated to think about what is normal and what is not. I find it more useful to try to decide what is kind and loving versus behavior based on fear or anger. If I don't know how to act, I can always fall back on Just Be Kind, or the Golden Rule---do unto others as I would have others do unto me.

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