How “The Bell Jar” Helped Me Acknowledge My Mental Illness

While decluttering my laptop the other day, I stumbled upon this passage I wrote. I have no idea when or why I wrote it. Whenever I’m in a deep state of anxiety or depression, I have absolutely no recollection of that moment. I must’ve written this passage when I was in one of those states. I read The Bell Jar 3 years ago, at a time when my anxiety was at its worst. This book changed my life – as you can see from the passage below.

Mental illness is a touchy subject. No one wants to acknowledge having any type of illness because of the implications and stigmas that come with it. Many people, including myself, are often in denial when symptoms of certain mental illnesses arise. I do not want to be classified as “sick” and neither does anyone else. Since socially constructed ideas of sickness often depict individuals requiring treatment, mental illnesses are perceived as such. Yet, the only treatment most people suffering from a mental illness needs is the acknowledgement that they are suffering and that it is okay and perfectly normal. After much research and openness of my anxiety, I have realized I am not alone. I feel comfort knowing that many individuals, including some of my best friends, experience and understand the same difficulties I face. I do not wish mental illness on anyone, but the bond that I feel with others who have mental health conditions is indescribable.

Sylvia Plath’s “The Bell Jar,” spoke to me like no other book I have read. I receiving the same university degree as her and have the same career goals as she did. I hope that I can impact and help those suffering, like she was able to help me. Her suicide touched me as if it were my own. The realization of the valuably of human life made me understand the importance of fighting through, no matter how hard the battles may become. One life does not just impact that life. When Sylvia Plath took her life, she did not know that almost 50 years later, someone would be impacted by it. I was impacted because I understand her pain. We all understand each others’ pain. When one battle with mental illness is lost, we are all affected. We must get through it together and support each other regardless of the illness that is being fought. We live in an age where mental illness is so widely acknowledged that almost everyone knows someone who is affected. Mental illness impacts us all. Yet, there is still a stigma associated with it. I have acknowledged my fear of illness so that others can as well.

Together, we can end the stigma. Together, we can help each other get through.