i know a lot of people are focused on all the mental damage Ford presumably endured during being in a portal that broke Fiddleford in a matter of seconds but like what about Stan?
I mean we see the obvious emotions that overcame Stan when Ford first went through the portal. Panic. Guilt. Grief. But what comes after the first few weeks of trying to bring Ford back and failing? How many times can you pull a lever with hope in your eyes only to have it result in nothing? How many times can you fail before that fear starts to creep in? Can you imagine how Stan felt trying to desperately ignore the fact that it was entirely likely he couldn’t figure out how to bring his brother back?
When he first started the Shack it was only a way to survive. His mind was barely there when he did the tours. He was only thinking about new methods and ideas for how to make the machine work. But then as months and years went by he actually had enough time to absorb what was happening. He began to hear people when they called him Stanford and for the first time it started to sting. Badly. This was no longer a temporary fraud built to maintain Stan so he could bring Ford back. This had become Stan’s entire life.
And Stan knew it. He painfully accepted that he didn’t know how to bring his brother back and he couldn’t figure it out. Everything he was told when he was young was true. He was stupid and useless. He couldn’t even make himself a life without deceiving other people. So, he accepted it. Why not just live out the life he was meant for? Why not be the biggest hoax in the Mystery Shack? Who else could he possibly hurt?
So Stan faked his own death. He succumbed to his fate of living a lie. For 30 years he walked the halls of the Shack, withdrawing every particle of his vulnerability to numb the massive amount of guilt that resided in his core.
The portal became his own fucked up hobby. He pulled the lever countless times, every night. Trying not to be hopeful, but he was every time and it hurt. Sometimes he would simply go down to the portal and look at it. He wouldn’t have any new ideas, but he just needed a reminder. He needed something physical that he could look at that proves to him that it all actually happened. That his brother was real and Stan was too, at least before he lost himself to the Shack.
Stan might be the most mentally damaged person in all of Gravity Falls and the saddest part is that none of it has to do with the paranormal.