My own Bell Jar: redrawing lines of my Depression

I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart. I am. I am. I am.

This particular quote has been swimming unexpectedly in my mind for the past week. So much, I feel compel to write about my  desperate discover of Sylvia Plath’s harrowing and semi-autobiographical novel “The Bell Jar”.

My mind and will have been too busy to recreate themselves for the sake of writing.  I have several drafts waiting for the “publish” tab and come to light, but reading and researching always comes first on my list. Allow me to put this way: I am experiencing symptoms of depression and mania to the point that common sense is no longer a factor. 

Lately life has become like an insipid glass of struggles which blocks much of the mindfulness process. I am fully aware of my depressing state, the ups and downs, the lack of concentration, etc…this is the main reason why I appreciate Sylvia’s poetry to the fullest. The intensity of her writing has open my own windows of imagination, always dark, but safe enough to become a cathartic experience.

Enter Esther Greenwood, a smart college student from Massachusetts travels to the big city of New York to work on a magazine for a month.  She should be having the time of her life, but after of a series of events, Esther slowly descends into a period of unreality when she decides to spend the summer with her mother. She stops writing, eating, she doesn’t sleep. Esther is determined to end her life. After a series of unsuccessful suicide attempts, she finds herself in the hospital. It is not my wish to give away too many details, but I can tell you after talk therapy and ECT, Esther’s state seems to improve, but she knows that the bell jar of her madness won’t evaporate and will likely descend at any time. The utterance of Plath’s words command a deeper examination of the human mind arousing intense feeling long forgotten.

“If neurotic is wanting two mutually exclusive things at one and the same time, then I’m neurotic as hell. I’ll be flying back and forth between one mutually exclusive thing and another for the rest of my days.”

This isn’t a review either; it’s an exercise of the mind before I go mad completely. The echoes of Esther’s episode and my life share such parallels, the imperative obligation to do well in life, to have ambitions, etc…but at the same time observing the everyday life with patience with a degree of sarcasm that brings a sense of relief.

What I admire the most is the author’s visualization of life in the form of the fig tree. “From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked”. The big moment when alternating paths expands before my own eyes and I just watch there, still, not knowing which direction to take. Which fig are you going to choose? A better mother? A photographer? visit Europe again? a happy home? an editor? Could I pick everything? Maybe it doesn’t matter as long as I’m happy, the issue doesn’t rely on whether or not I can accomplish those goals, it is the torment of living with an illness that sucks the life and energy out of my mind and body that makes it harder and I realize my future dropping on the ground of my feet.

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A big part of my current disconnection is because medicine is not working again, and family life itself it’s chaotic to say at least. Therapy helps tremendously but it’s a challenge talking about myself. All I can do is read, and read, and read more…someday like Esther, I’ll have the ability to wake up from this present spell and feel like myself again. I am living inside my own mania bell jar. I felt very still and very empty, the way the eye of a tornado must feel, moving dully along in the middle of the surrounding hullabaloo.

 

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