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.

To The Girls Who Wear Glass Slippers

To the girls who wear glass slippers:
does the shoe fit?
Does it slide on gracefully, or did you have to sand your foot again and again – until the skin rubbed off – just to get it to slide in uncomfortably?
Is that glue I see, crushed into the slipper, so that your foot won’t hang out?
What’s that – rope? Tying your foot to it, are you?
It might be convenient to dig your foot into the first glass slipper you see, dear, but is your foot okay with it? Does it dangle or quench for air? Does it walk smoothly, without blisters?

To the girls who wear glass slippers:
don’t shape your foot. It isn’t clay.
There might be a prince around someday, a boy who passes you a glass slipper, and asks you to try it on. He might have the medals dangling around his neck, gold rings tightened to his fingers, money waddling around in his pocket – he might have all that, but if the shoe does not fit, then he is not a prince. He is merely an impostor; a concoction of stolen awards, gold paint, and forged money.

To the girls who wear glass slippers:
if the shoe fits, wear it.