Many years ago, I watched Alfred Hitchcock’s The Wrong Man based on a true story about a man, Manny Balestrero, falsely accused of armed robbery in the early part of the 1950s. While the story in itself is terrifying to think about, what struck me and stays with me to this day is Manny’s wife’s reaction to the series of events. Rose Balestrero becomes increasingly depressed and is eventually institutionalized. According to the film, it would take more than two years for her to recover.
Women had little control then, which may have been a key factor in Rose’s “checking out.” In fact, I remember as a child, my mother once referring to woman who had had a “nervous breakdown.” Today, few of us have the luxury of simply withdrawing from life. Instead, many women live daily with issues that severely affect their mental health and stability, often leading to “damaging and risky” behavior that includes, “regularly drinking enough to get drunk, leaving jobs, staying in bed for long periods of time, losing friends, getting into debt and self-harm,” according to a recent study published by Platform 51, the moniker of the YWCA of England and Wales. Why Platform 51? It refers to 51% of the population the organization works to help – females. According to the study, “traumatic events such as physical or emotional abuse, bereavement and school bullying” can affect a woman her entire life. Other mental health issues can be triggered by life events and lead directly to risk and neglect.
The Top 5 Life Event Triggers Leading to Poor Mental Health in Women/Girls include:
1) Developing a Serious Illness/Disability
2) Getting into Debt
3) The Breakdown of a Relationship
4) Job Loss
5) Parental Divorce
According to the study, getting into debt was “both a cause and a consequence” of poor mental health. Debt triggered six negative symptoms in the study including an inability to sleep (47%) , hopelessness (40%) and even suicidal thoughts (8%).
Perhaps the most common symptom triggered is isolation, staying in bed and rarely leaving home. Most withdraw from friends with nearly one-third admitting to drinking daily as a result of their inability to cope. Seeking out the comfort of friends and family is key. Moms were the number one support for girls aged 12-17. For women 25 – 55, spouse/partner ranked first (29%) with a GIRLFRIEND ranking number 2 at 20%.
Girls with traumatic issues become women that make poor choices and moms that make big mistakes. Know the signs.