Sylvia Plath, Mental Health, and Girls

This post is a combined post about mental health day (yesterday) and girl’s day (today). It’s talking about my all-time favourite poet: Sylvia Plath.

She was born in 1932 and died thirty years later in 1963. Why did she die at the age of thirty? Suicide. She had attempted suicide many times, but they failed. Eventually, she succeeded by carbon monoxide poisoning.

As she wrote in some of her many letters, she felt that she wouldn’t get a place at the top universities because of her suicidal background. She did eventually get a place at Cambridge, where she met her future husband, Ted Hughes, who was once the poet laureate.

She talked, in her letters, that girls being suicidal wasn’t taken seriously back then, and that it would even affect their chances in education and work. Her doctor cared deeply about her mental health, however, and had tried to get her admitted to hospital several times, but they would not take her. The system failed her because they didn’t care enough about her mental health. She was also subjected to electroconvulsive therapy when she was depressed, which is a really awful way to treat someone.

In one letter, she mentioned that two days before a miscarriage, her husband had beat her. Many blame Ted Hughes for her death, and some even vandalised her grave, getting rid of the surname ‘Hughes’ and replacing it with ‘Plath’. Her son also committed suicide in 2009.

Nowadays, mental health is taken more seriously, but a lot of girls are still subjected to judgement: “it’s just hormones”, “it will pass”, “you’re not depressed, just sad”, “you don’t seem it”, “this is a phase”. Sylvia Plath was failed, but she did so many beautiful poems that will always honour her memory; don’t let anyone else be failed. Just because they’re young, doesn’t mean it’s a phase, or hormones, or anything else. Even if it is, just take them seriously. Wiping them away like rain on your windscreen will cause them to isolate themselves and, eventually, they might have a similar fate to that of Sylvia. I love her writing so much but a lot of it is sad. She literally wrote about her emotions and she still didn’t get the care she needed.

This post was about girls, as it is girl’s day, but that doesn’t mean you should forget boys. They are taught to be strong pillars, but allow them to fall down. If you don’t, they might have the same fate as Sylvia Plath’s son, Nicholas.

A Letter to My First & Second Bully

This letter is about two kinds of bullies. The first kind is the bully who is going through something tough and they’re just getting their anger out on someone weaker than them. The second kind is the one who either does it for popularity or just gets a thrill out of making someone suffer. This is a letter to my first two bullies; the first was someone going through something, the second smiled whenever I cried.

Dear my first bully,

I shouldn’t really call you a bully. You’re a human being. I don’t actually remember how you made me upset because all I remember now is the aftermath. You probably don’t recall, as we’re practically strangers now, but after we found out that you were going through a divorce, we became friends. Your mum and my mum were friends for a while too. I think we once went to pottery together.

I’m glad you were my first bully, though, because you made me realise that not all bullies are monsters. You were angry and hurt and you took it out on me and that’s okay. Although I wasn’t used to it when you bullied me, you helped me to develop an ignorance for what was to come, though it still hurt every single time they bullied me. I know you were a sweet boy behind it. It’s the school’s fault, usually, because they make up stuff about anti-bullying policies that they never stick to.

I forgave you so soon after because I saw the real you. You were only young too; we both were. I’m sure that you learned that it was wrong and that it never happened again. In fact, I think I’m positive of that, because of how a bully became a friend. Though we went our separate ways years ago, I still remember you. I think I won’t forget you.

Dear my second bully,

Nice friends you have to help you insult me. It would be harder to do it alone, wouldn’t it? You always have to come in a gang of three, like the movies, but you’re the ringleader, also like the movies. You never picked on anyone else whilst we were in the same class; not even that boy who everyone else picked on — you were friends with him. It was specifically me. Specifically me. Why? Because I was a girl but I wasn’t one of the popular, pretty ones. I had my hair tied up and I didn’t wear mascara. I also didn’t have my ears pierced. Bare in mind that I was eight, yet everyone else deemed it normal for girls of eight to be coating themselves in stuff. I don’t get it. But I was still a girl: weaker, more vulnerable than a boy. You also knew that I didn’t have confidence, regardless of the fact I stuck my hand up several thousand times. I did that to try and make myself feel better, but it always made me feel worse. Your sneering didn’t help. It never did.

You were also the type of bully that I would never report; you made sure of that. You were subtle, but threatening, and you made me cry in the toilets. Our teachers hated me (because I cried all the time), so they just moaned about me being a cry baby in parent evenings. I think my parents were shocked, but it meant that you could continue doing what you were doing. I didn’t cry much until I came into your path. Yours and theirs; all of the bullies, but you were definitely the leader. I could always tell that. You did it for an ego boost, a popularity boost, security. You needed to feel like you had value because you never cared for class, so your grades weren’t the best; so you bullied me.

Still, it made you smile. It always made you smile, and that sickens me. Funny how sick rhymes with your name, isn’t it? You were another boy, just like my first bully, but you never became my friend. I will also never forget you, because if you hadn’t happened, maybe it never would have gotten so bad. Maybe I wouldn’t have had crippling anxiety for years to come; anxiety so bad that important grades suffered. I would tap my fingers through exams, thinking and thinking about how my life came to that point. And at one stage, I came back to you. And I was always disappointed with my results. Always disappointed. I think I could have done better; I certainly studied a lot. I think all of it was because I couldn’t focus. I just wanted to get out of that room and run out of that gate, all of the time. Maybe you were involved in some way, psychologically messing with me, even though I hadn’t been at your school for a few years.

Thank you for making my life a misery.

Thanks for reading this post. If you’re getting bullied, it’s tough, and sometimes no one will help you (at least, in my case) but you will always get online support. I am always here and so are so many other people. It’s a hard time but you can get through it. 

Lia

 

Questions

When we’re children, we see things for the first time, experience things for the first time, and our reaction is pure. We question the world too, asking stuff that we would never ask again because we’d grow up and develop a narrower mind. It’s true. Our minds are very open when we’re young, and then the experiences start to define us, and we close our minds, so that we don’t have to think about stuff we can’t comprehend.

What makes philosophers great is that they never stop questioning, and their minds become as open as the world around them. Though some of them still have narrow-minded approaches to certain things (*cough*Aristotle*cough*), they still see the world in a way that very few do. They would ask the simple questions that nobody would ever answer. It’s not about receiving the answer, but about letting the question out in the first place. In today’s society, we are still deeply narrow-minded and more selfish than we have ever been in history. We don’t stop to think about why we get scared over trivial things like doing a presentation in class (one of my own fears) when we actually have the advantage of education. Education is supposed to broaden our minds but, in my opinion, it does the opposite. This is simply because we learn stuff to do well in exams and exams are all we ever see in education. We don’t think about the bigger picture. As well as this, we don’t get taught about the bigger picture. We get taught things that will never matter, they’re only for an exam paper. Back in the day, there were philosophy schools, founded by some great philosophers, like Plato. If more schools taught us about philosophy and the questions that really matter, then we wouldn’t worry about our future so much. The future is a very temporary thing, as we are very temporary. We worry about our own tiny lives, without realising that our own lives are very trivial in the grand scheme of things.

Of course, it is a perfectly human trait to worry about yourself, and your own life, but I just like to think about the bigger things sometimes, and that makes me stop worrying, at least temporarily. I think about how our existence is a wonderful thing, yet we continue to abuse it. We are not monsters, but I am sure other species think of us as that. The way we treat the Earth, and the other living beings on it; we were given these minds so that we could use them kindly, but instead we use them like a weapon. Why do we use our minds as a weapon? What are we hiding from? Our minds are tools, and they should be sharpened like other tools, but they should not stab other minds. They should sharpen each other. Then, we’d be able to see the bigger picture, instead of our personal pleasure.

The questions are waiting to be asked. You don’t need to answer them; only ask. Just like when you were a child and you questioned everything. Become like that again.

What questions did you ask when you were children? I asked ones that could be seen as offensive if I wasn’t a child! I was just curious!

Thanks for reading,

Lia 

Imagine

Imagine you have no tongue. It was chopped off at birth, just like they pretended your soul was, except your soul was just hidden behind ladders and ramps and hills. So you have no tongue, and you try to ask what’s going on, why are you being attacked, why is your mother over there but you’re over here? But you can’t. You’re scared, very scared, but you can’t express this fear. Your eyes are the only way of showing it but nobody looks into those, they just look at the rest of you.
 The profit, as they call it.

 You just want to be with your mum, you just want this to be all over with, you just want to live. But, again, you have no tongue. Because you have no tongue, you become an object. An ‘it’, rather than a she or a he. You are just another ‘it’, among a thousand ‘it’s. You don’t want to be an ‘it’. You want to be an individual. You have your own mind but it doesn’t count, because you have no tongue.

Your days go by quickly, you can’t differentiate between them. You don’t look forward to anything, or look back to anything, except the first moments you saw your mother. You wish you could still be with her. But you can’t be, because you are here, and she isn’t. You are in the area where she once was, though, getting the treatment she once got. 

Being trampled by your friends because they have no choice, then being raped and forced to give up your baby, like she was, many times, then finally you are sent to the place where you will die. Some call it a slaughter house, you call it freedom, because death is better than the half-life you’ve been forced to live. Even if death is painful, which it often is, you still prefer it to before. 

 Nobody should have to want death. No one. Not even cows. 

 Whilst this post was about cows, it is also about all the other living beings still suffering. I don’t see how there is any justification for rape, just so we can get milk, which is intended for the babies, by the way. This is my way of thinking and I hope this post makes you think a bit about the industries you’re buying into. 

Lia

Mistakes

We all make mistakes in life, don’t we? I can’t stop thinking about a single mistake I made many years ago, and the fact that I wasn’t allowed to redeem myself.
I had some friends, nice friends nearby, for the first time in forever, but I also have pretty bad social anxiety so this time, so long ago, I was having one of my ‘social anxiety meltdowns’. I was saying that everyone hates me; I don’t do this often, but I do it sometimes when I feel like a friendship is getting too good to be true. I only ever do it once, usually, and then after that, I never do it again. I just need to have a meltdown, sometimes.
So these friends, who I met up with once a week, and sometimes did more with; I had one of these meltdowns, and my whole life got destroyed. I tried apologising to one of them the following day but he didn’t understand at all. He was saying “I can’t be friends with you if you’re gonna be like this” despite the fact I’d never done this before. So, I ruined my friendship with him, and then I couldn’t say anything to the others because I would likely get the same outcome, so I stopped going to the thing, and I just became more antisocial than ever. I didn’t go to college either, everything stopped.
It hasn’t restarted.
This incident triggered such a big nothingness for me and I don’t think I can ever get friends that can meet up regularly because I’ll ruin it again. I miss being their friend but two of them I don’t talk to anymore at all and one I have to message first to get a response, which I hate doing.

I feel so lonely but I can’t have friends because I’ll destroy the friendship. And who would want to be friends with me, anyway? Who would even understand me? I’m not worth understanding.

What Dictates Us?

From a young age, our minds are programmed.

  When I was young, I was once rude about another girl (who was actually my friend) because she didn’t come into school often; this was because I had been programmed to think that good attendance would reward you, and bad attendance would not. I did not think about how it would make her feel or why she might not be in very much. I guess I was just upset about her not being in much. She didn’t mind though; she was that kind of person. But the thing is: schools reward pupils for perfect attendance, 100% — you have to be perfect, perfect, perfect, or perhaps just lucky.

It doesn’t mean you’re better than someone else if you go in every day, though schools decide that you are. There are children who are sickly, there are those who suffer emotional problems too, there are those who are grieving and perhaps need a nice trip out to distract them, but they will not get it, because only those with perfect attendance earn a treat. We think this is fine, but it is not. Without understanding why the pupils don’t go in, they are punished. That will have an impact on the way they feel about themselves, and perhaps make them feel even more isolated.

There are other things too that are programmed into us when we are young: I never once played rugby when I was at school. Although, I guess I’m grateful, I think I should have been made to, like the boys were. Many of the boys didn’t want to but they had to, and some of the girls wanted to but weren’t allowed, because it wasn’t a ‘girl’s sport’. These little things, they all change our mind, from the pure thing it was when we were born, to something very confused.

Where do we stand in the world? What is our worth? Who are we? What dictates us?

Children and young people with mental health conditions is on the rise, and it’s because of the way society breaks us. It confuses us with so many different things, one thing says this is acceptable, yet another says this — we become so overwhelmed by all of society’s rules that we can’t deal with them, and then we end up as ants, carrying several times our body weight, before eventually being crushed.

What do you think? Are our minds really our own?

Lia

Theories

I was chatting with MyMindSpeaksAloud the other day, telling her interesting facts about the Tower of London. [It used to hold animals and you could either pay two pennies or feed your pets to the lions to get in.]  She responded by telling me that people say ‘bless you’ when you sneeze because a long time ago, there was the believe that devils enter through your mouth.
I was considering this more so than I have ever done so in the past. I have heard this said before but it was this time that I decided to consider it more closely, because I was talking with someone quite like-minded.
What if, when our noses are blocked, it is our bodies blocking the devils from entering? And what if, when we below our noses, we are ejecting them. That is what I started thinking, and that devils enter through our noses, not our mouths.
As a writer, having an open mind to all theories is quite important to getting good story ideas. But it made me wonder. Are the people who sneeze more often also more inclined to evil visiting them? They might eject more evil, but it also means they have more residential evil living inside of them.
These are all concepts which seem alien to us but maybe that’s because creatures alien to us are living inside us, forcing us to think in a set way. Remember, next time you sneeze, it’s probably a devil. Blow your nose with a tissue, then throw it down the toilet.
This is all theoretical because I think a lot but consider it’s true: how much evil does your body contain?

My mind

I have a mind that nobody but me understands. That can be pretty painful at times because you try to get people to connect and they can’t. It’s also special though because it gives you a place that nobody will ever be able to walk into. No matter where you are, what you’re doing, nobody can get there. 
My mind is the most dangerous place in the universe though. It holds more threat that anything else. It has the power to do anything. It holds the knives that can stab us or other people, it holds the bombs that can light up an entire stadium with fear, it holds the rope that ties us to it. We can never escape our mind. It will always be there.

I sometimes feel like my mind is so conflicted that I would be better off if I did escape it, but then I realise that it holds memories I never want to leave, as well as ones I would tear apart if I had the chance, and I feel even more conflicted. 

Mental health is the cancer of the mind; it destroys hopes, dreams, possibilities. It becomes something so infectious that soon your entire body suffers. You might snack unnecessarily, or not eat at all; I get so conflicted sometimes that I do both. One day I snack so much, other times I don’t want to eat. You might sleep too much, or not at all. Again, I do both. Some nights I don’t sleep, though these are rarer than the nights I do, but during the day I nap. A lot. I get exhausted from everything. Sometimes my body just won’t work. You might have problems internally as well, such as IBS, which has no known cure. It’s horrible. You might seem fine, heathy, but you know that your body is responding. It’s sending you signals. All these health problems are connected. 

Our mind is the most lonely place, yet it is also the most free. You can be yourself there, but sometimes that can be terrifying. When I’m myself, I feel like I have nobody in the world. I suppose I don’t, not anyone that can truly enter my mind. My family are so wonderful but they don’t have my mind, or even a similar one. Some friends are similar, but I don’t want to bother them, when they have their own demons. And they’re too far away; or too hard to contact; or too busy, through no fault of their own, to really talk to. I suppose I am alone in this world and my mind is a cage.

But don’t worry: there is a key. It’s just on the other side.

Connections

I’ve been thinking about how everyone is connected. I am connected to so many people through other people and it’s kinda disturbing. It’s connections that cause rumours and gossip. My mum has had that situation going and I am tangled in the same string as her. Fully grown adults have been making her feel bad recently, and it’s all through connections. I’m worried that one day the same thing might happen to me; I might end up being caught in a net that I can’t swim out of. A net of people I used to know who remember me but don’t want to because their past is their past.

It’s interesting, isn’t it? I’ve worked out that even people closest to me can be lead down a completely different web and still end up connected to me. Everyone is, in someway, connected to me.

The most worrying but also the most fascinating thing is knowing that I am connected to people the other side of the world. If not because my mum’s best friend emigrated there, then because of some other connection. There are millions.

We are all connected.

A Letter to a Friend

Dear Queen, as I’m going to call you in this letter,

I know you’re struggling right now, which is why you’re distant and barely reachable. I know you don’t have any plans. I know you feel like nothing interests you at the moment. I know you feel low and stressed. I know you’re scared. I want you to know that you are not the only one who doesn’t know what to become.

You’re the smartest girl I know, and I always wondered why you’d cry before exams when you always aced them. But I know why: you were stressed and you put so much pressure on yourself to do well that it all got too much.  You might be doubting yourself but I don’t doubt you.

I, too, am afraid of the future. I, too, struggle to find my ambition. I’m not going to university next year either. If you want to talk to anyone about this, talk to me, because I know what you’re going through. I know what it feels like to not have any clear goals. Of course, there is my writing, but realistically speaking, that’s going to be nearly impossible to accomplish.

I know you don’t talk to me as much recently, and I know you haven’t really been saying much to other people, but it’s important you remember that we all love you and we all care. You are so beautiful and fantastic and I’m so proud that you’re my friend.

Please, text me, or email me, or meet up with me sometime — you are appreciated. You are. I understand how troubling it can be thinking about your future; I’m in the same boat and sometimes I cry about it. But at least I have my writing to let my feelings loose. You really need someone to talk to, I think, though you’re scared to admit it. You’re awesome, Queen, and whilst you’re still going to doubt that, remember that no one else does.

Yours truly,

Lia