Wednesday, 11 November 2015

I'm one of the many women who don't trust their own judgment.

Early this year, I had a conversation with a good friend that allowed me to acknowledge for the first time ever that I might have depression.

Despite having been diagnosed by a psychiatrist and despite all my research of the subject however, I still don't really feel that I have a right to feel the way I do when I have a depressive episode. I question the dark hopelessness, the listlessness, the loss of appetite, the lethargy. Am I just being lazy? Why can't I just snap out of it? What do I have to be unhappy about? There are people in the world who really suffer!

In a conversation with the same good friend yesterday, I realised that it's not just when I'm depressive that I question how I feel. It's almost as though I've been hardwired to disbelieve the thoughts or feelings that come instinctively to me, and the more I think about this issue, the more I suspect it should be (is?) a feminist issue.

The thing is, I know I'm not alone in this. Self-doubt is part of the human condition, I'm sure, but it seems to disproportionately affect women. I know too many women who squash their gut feelings about predatory men, thinking that they're being over-sensitive or imagining things. I know too many women who come away from interactions with their significant other feeling slightly loopy, wondering whether it's really all in their head and they're really acting 'crazy'. I know too many women who don't believe in the value of their work or contributions to society, despite evidence that indicates that they actually are valuable.

I am one of those women.

What is it about the way so many of us are socialised that we can't even trust ourselves? If we can't trust ourselves, then it means we must look to others for guidance. And if we look to people who are exploitative, manipulative or abusive, then we are exposed to harm. So many times, I have looked back on situations and realised I was actually right. There was something wrong. So why couldn't I believe myself at the time?

I need to be able to trust my gut. How can I get there?

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