When you live with depression and anxiety trust is a four letter word.

Like most who struggle with their emotional health, the issue of trust can be seen threading it’s way through the Diary. From our ability to trust ourselves to our ability to trust others, there seems a spectrum of trust by which we learn to measure and predict another’s trustworthiness.

For me, having been raised in an environment where it was necessary to find a way to protect one’s self (even if that meant submission) it’s easy to see that trust might be an ongoing issue. However, when you’re as old as I am you’d think that I’d have learned a few techniques to help me mange the ebbs and flows of life.

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to live a life without social interaction. That means, no matter how much we kid ourselves that we’re ‘independent’ and don’t need to rely on others, we’re almost always wrong.

I’ve had many lessons recently about trust. And, I’ve spent a great deal of time telling myself how stupid I am for trusting people. In fact, I’ve turned myself into a complete ogre for believing that I could trust anyone.   The pain of those breaches burns embers in my soul that flare up under the most gentle of breezes only to die back down and await the next breath. And yet, I blame only myself for it. For being stupid. For being a complete f…ing idiot!

I guess it’s self-soothing to tell myself that it’s my own fault. It means I can take responsibility for whatever pain happens in my life because it was me who breached my own rules. Interestingly, once you believe you can control what happens, it seems the world can be perceived as a safer place.

So I wonder then, what integrity is about. I have always valued my personal integrity quite highly. I attempt to ensure my thoughts and behaviour are aligned regardless of the discomfort it causes me. (And, it has caused me a great deal of discomfort.) In fact, my desire to keep this in balance has me known for being someone who will actually say what I think no matter the risk.

This is something I actually like about myself. (Interestingly, there’s not much else I like about myself.) Where I find many things abstract and unimportant (like time), the fact that if I tell you something, provide advice, or give you an impression, you’re getting a glimpse of the real me. I might not necessarily be right, but you will know what I really think. (Mind you, this wasn’t always the case!)

Because of my own beliefs about integrity, I’ve always considered that another person’s integrity will provide a degree of reassurance in respect of how trustworthy they are. That their desire to be viewed as they actually are will allow me to discern what degree of trust I should apply.

But sadly, it’s becoming more obvious to me that a person’s displayed integrity might just be an illusion created specifically to deceive. A calculated manipulation by those who would willingly hold their own need more tightly than any social or personal responsibilities. So it begs the question then of how can I trust others, when they hold their own integrity in such low regard?

I guess it’s a problem I’ll have to keep working on. The truth is, I cannot do life alone. In order to live a life of purpose, I must fully engage with others even though life has taught me not to. Unfortunately for me, it’s almost a fore-gone conclusion that any engagement will provide an opportunity for someone to break through my carefully constructed fortress and ensure a direct hit to my heart.

So, to trust or not to trust, that is the question?

From someone named George MacDonald: To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved.

If you need to talk to someone NOW call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Deb Shugg is an awarded businesswoman, wife & mother, author and a sufferer of depression and anxiety.

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If you need help to deal with your symptoms see your doctor.

(Abuse of another person is NEVER okay. If you are being abused or, if you are an abuser please seek help.)