After finishing “The Bell Jar,” by Sylvia Plath, all I can think about is the heart-breaking response Esther received to her deteriorating mental health – the response Plath herself must have also received. Although the stigma surrounding mental health as well as the treatment of it has been drastically reduced, it’s still not regarded with the importance that it deserves and requires. I felt immense terror while reading about Esther’s painful electrotherapy shock treatments, as well as the bullying she received not only from other patients, but from the practitioners.
Why is it that an illness that displays no physical symptoms is seen as invalid? Why is it that the people who experience mental health difficulties are, still today, looked down upon? There’s often confusion, particularly in people with no personal connection or experience with mental illnesses, as to why someone cannot make themselves feel better. Those who are ill aren’t able to simply drag themselves out of bed, or cheer themselves up, or talk to someone. They’re not physically capable. In part, it’s this irrationality that makes mental illness so hard to cope with, because as much as someone may desire to be better, their condition can prevent them from doing anything to help begin the healing process. If there is one thing you should take from this post, it’s that mental health is just as valid as physical health, and that there is a need to be supportive of yourself and anyone you know in need of help.
Plath, Sylvia. The Bell Jar. London: Faber and Faber, 1966. Print.