The Intersection of Gender and Mental Health: A Woman’s Journey
The intersection of gender and mental health is a complex and often neglected issue, particularly when it comes to women’s mental health. Women are more likely than men to experience mental health issues, and this can be partly attributed to gendered societal norms and expectations that can place significant strain on women’s mental health.
As a woman, I have experienced my own journey with mental illness, and it has been a journey deeply intertwined with my gender identity and experiences. For me, the expectations and pressures placed on me as a woman played a significant role in the development of my mental health struggles.
Growing up, I was always told to be the perfect daughter or the perfect young lady. I was expected to always be polite and accommodating, to never complain or make a fuss, and to put others before myself. As a result, I often found myself suppressing my own feelings and needs in order to meet these expectations, and this led to a lot of inner turmoil.
In my early twenties, I began experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression. I struggled to cope with the pressure of being a successful career woman, while also maintaining a perfect home, cooking healthy meals, and being a supportive partner. I felt like I was constantly failing, and this led to a sense of hopelessness and despair.
It was only when I began seeing a therapist that I began to understand the intersection of gender and mental health. My therapist helped me to unpack the societal expectations and messages that had been influencing my mental health. We talked about the pressure on women to be perfect, the way that women’s feelings are often dismissed or minimized, and the stigma surrounding mental health issues in general, but especially for women.
Through therapy, I learned to recognize and challenge the harmful messages that had been impacting my mental health. I began to prioritize self-care and to set boundaries that allowed me to take care of myself without feeling guilty. I also started to speak out about my experiences and to advocate for better support for women’s mental health.
While my journey with mental illness has been difficult, it has also been transformative. I have learned to be kinder to myself, to recognize that my struggles are not my fault, and to work towards breaking down the societal messages that impact women’s mental health. I hope that as a society, we can begin to recognize and address the complex ways in which gender impacts mental health, and work towards creating a world where all women can thrive.