Like a lot of people with mental illness, I spend a lot of time fronting. It’s really important to me to not appear crazy, to fit in, to seem normal, to do the things “normal people” do, to blend in. It’s a form of assimilation for safety, but something deeper than that, where hiding my own identity for survival is also tearing me apart…
As a defense mechanism, fronting makes a lot of sense, and you hone that mechanism after years of being crazy. Fronting is what allows you to hold down a job and maintain relationships with people, it’s the thing that sometimes keeps you from falling apart. It’s the thing that allows you to have a burst of tears in the shower or behind the front seat of your car and then coolly collect yourself and stroll into a social engagement…
We are rewarded for hiding ourselves. We become the poster children for “productive” mentally ill people, because we are so organized and together. The fact that we can function, at great cost to ourselves, is used to beat up the people who cannot function.
Because unlike the people who cannot front, or who fronted too hard and fell off the cliff, we are able to “keep it together,” whatever it takes.
s.e. smith, I Hide My Mental Illness
(Read the whole post. It’s really worth it.)
I posted about this already, but i’ll go again: This is written by a white person appropriating AAVE, combined with the header for the article reading:
Being mentally ill means that I am more likely to be shot by police. I am more likely to be raped or assaulted. I am more likely to be institutionalized, to be condemned as an unfit parent, to be denied employment or fired.
I used to like s.e. smith until this article. “Fronting”? The lead-off line is:
At least once a week, there’s a story about someone with my diagnosis in the news being shot by police.
Stephon Watts, 15
Ernest Vassell, 57
Stephen Eugene Washington, 27
Oscar Guzman, 16
So, white person, please tell me more about how “at risk” you are to be shot to death by police. Because I’m pretty sure “mental illness” was a secondary reason for these beatings and murders.