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Student News of Liberty High School

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Student News of Liberty High School

LHStoday

Student News of Liberty High School

LHStoday

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The Dangers Behind the Secrecy of Women’s Health and Why We Can’t Open Up About It

The deep hardships women have to face when talking about their health and how that can have long term effects on their lives
We+as+women+hope+to+spread+awareness+and+educated+people+about+why+we+struggle+with+talking+about+our+well-being.++
Lexi Daniels
We as women hope to spread awareness and educated people about why we struggle with talking about our well-being.

Have you ever wanted to say something to someone but you’re scared of how they are going to act or what they are going to say? This is a struggle women constantly face when involving their health. It’s not as easy to ask a male teacher to go to the bathroom as you may think. Or trying to tell your PE teacher you can’t do this activity because it can affect a health concern in your body. Nine times out of 10 these questions are easier for men to ask. Approximately 72% of women say that they have been gaslighted about their medical health, and 17% of women say they have had to “prove” their symptoms to a doctor. Why is this? Why can’t women express their health concerns without being scared? 

Why Should This Be Shared?

This problem was brought up in 2018, with the media bringing this problem of, gaslighting women’s health, into the light and mainstream. Even with the constant sharing of stories about neglect towards women’s health, no one seems to be doing anything about it.

Gaslighting is abuse that can cause someone to distrust themselves and/or believe they have a mental illness. You will commonly see gaslighting associated with the phrase “all in your head.” 

The most common example is when women’s symptoms are just as likely as a man’s to be simply written off and not worried about. You might be able to do this with a man without them having any long-term consequences, but the same can’t be said for a woman. Women are more likely to have depression over men, so simply telling them that it is “all in their head” will not help a woman express themselves when they are truly in danger with their health. 

Long Term Effects

In some cases there can be long-term effects that are simply written off and can be a serious health concern for women that might lead to long term effects that can affect every aspect of a woman’s  life. Gaslighting for example can cause anxiety, depression, trauma, and low self-esteem. Not only can it cause serious long term effects on a woman’s mental health, but also on their physical health. Say a 15-year-old girl goes in for a check up and she describes strange symptoms (unbeknownst to her she has a high possibility of becoming infertile if the doctor doesn’t diagnose her correctly). You’re done with the check up and your doctor simply plays them off because they are not strong enough to have a diagnosis. 

Gaslighting and secrets about women’s health can cause many concerns in a woman’s body. A woman can become infertile, have breast cancer, or even have squamous cell carcinoma. These can all happen at a young age for a woman causing them to live with it until they get treatment or in some cases, forever. 

Women need to be able to talk about their bodies, and not be ashamed of what they need to talk about.

— Benn

Why Is It a Concern? 

Worrying about your health is common in everyone’s life. It can be as simple as the yearly physical and the yearly shots. However, that can all change when someone feels gaslighted to not want to talk about their health and concerns they might have. This will lead women to question their own reality of how they feel and they can potentially give up on their healthcare and their possibilities of help for a treatment. When women give up on their healthcare it will cause multiple problems to their lives and everything they have to face from then on.

Freshman Sasha Benn can relate to this concern and mentions that sometimes doctors may not give the correct diagnosis when it comes to her heart problems and murmurs. “Women need to be able to talk about their bodies, and not be ashamed of what they need to talk about,” Benn said. “It’s really important for women to take care of their bodies because we are producing the next generation.”

What Should You Do If You Are a Victim?  

You’re not alone when it comes to gaslighting. If you feel like there is nothing you can do in order to protect your health (mentally and physically), there are many things you can do in order to insure protection. When it is possible you can bring someone with you for providing emotional help, and you will have a witness to the gaslighting you are facing. You may also feel the need to switch healthcare providers if it becomes worse and you feel you are getting ignored even more. 

Don’t hesitate to get a second opinion on the topic as well.  The most effective thing you can do is discuss your concerns with a healthcare facility. They can help file a lawsuit against the gaslighting you are facing. When asking freshman Anze Oosthuizen what she would do if she had a friend with that problem, she said “I would probably confront the problem or complain to the department the doctor is working in.” When also being asked if she had ever felt like a doctor was playing off what was really going on with her she replied with, “Yes. I was so mad because they didn’t help me when I knew I needed help.” 

How to Avoid It Happening to You 

Before even trying to prevent the situation you have to ensure the act is being committed considering it’s not so easy to recognize. Then there are five things you should do in order to prevent this terrible act from happening to you 

  1. Take some time and space for the situation. When dealing with gaslighting you are going to feel lots of strong emotions. These emotions you will feel are completely natural, but try not to let them dictate your outcome in the situation. The best thing to do is remain calm because this will help you handle the situation more effectively. 
  2. Collecting evidence on the problem at hand is another crucial thing to do. By collecting evidence from interactions you are having with your doctor you can help keep track of what is actually happening. This will be very helpful when they deny a conversation you previously had with them, and look back on what actually happened. 
  3. Don’t be scared to speak up about the behavior you are experiencing and seeing. The reason gaslighting works is because it can confuse you and shake your confidence. If you stand your ground and ignore the gaslighting that is happening then the doctor doing it might not even want to try anymore because they know it doesn’t bother you. 
  4. This might seem like a no brainer but some people don’t realize how important this really is. You should always without a doubt remain confident with your own version of events that happened. Because everyone can only remember a fragment of the truth, or they remember everything but just a little bit differently. Just remember to never give in to the urge to question what they’re doing. Their plan is to doubt reality. 
  5. The most important thing to remember is don’t struggle on your own. Seek help for professional support because not only is this serious but it can also become very abusive. Sometimes you might need to talk to a therapist just to start off on the right track. Healthline FindCare is a great source for finding a mental healthcare professional. 

If you remember from earlier, I asked, “Why can’t women express their health concerns without being scared?” I hope you know now it’s not that easy. I hope you know now why, and that you will help someone who is struggling with this problem. I know not everyone will take this as a genuine concern, but as long as we remember this I’m sure we will see a change. It only takes one drop of water to cause a ripple. So finally the question is, are you?

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About the Contributors
Emily Griffith
Emily Griffith, Reporter
Emily Griffith is a freshman and it is her first year in journalism. She is also a part of the freshman cheer team and the JV softball team. She enjoys softball, writing, photography, baking, yoga, fast cars/bikes, adrenaline, roller coasters, and bulldogs. When not in the classroom, you will most likely find her at home, listening to music, and coming up with a creative way to express herself. As an aspiring author, you will commonly see Emily write about the way she would like to see the world change. As a big traveler, Emily would love to travel to France, United Kingdom, and Scotland. In the future, you will hopefully see Emily running her own business or living in New York doing what she loves! 

Lexi Daniels
Lexi Daniels, Reporter
Lexi Daniels is a freshman in her first year of journalism. When she’s not at school, she can often be found participating in physical activities. While she does enjoy being active, she is creative and enjoys art and design. Lexi values time with loved ones, and enjoys being around her friends. She plans to continue her journalism journey and looks forward to growing her skills. 

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