I re-read The Bell Jar today.
It was published in 1963, just a month after Sylvia Plath took her own life.
Even through this is a work of fiction, there is an honesty and soul baring truth about what it is like to live with depression and mental illness.
Mental illness, unlike other diseases is not often obvious. There are many who appear on the surface to have it all, but suffer from crippling anxiety and depression.
It’s easy to say “you should get out more” or “get over it”.
Until you walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, you can never truly understand their point of view. To live with mental illness is like living with a huge weight on your shoulders. You may appear to be happy, but appearances are often deceiving. The weight is crippling, it sometimes feels as if it will never be lifted from your shoulders.
Sylvia Plath was one of untold many who have taken their own lives due to mental illness. She was also one of the most gifted writers of her generation. Unfortunately, we will never know what other characters and worlds she might have created for our reading pleasure.
In honor of what might have been, I raise a glass to Sylvia Plath, wherever she is. I also raise my glass to those of us whose lives have been overtaken by mental illness. May we find the peace we desire and may we all live to a very old age.