Autodidact: self-taught


Plath’s Bell Jar

by V. L. Craven

The Bell Jar is Sylvia Plath’s fictionalized autobiography about descending into madness (depression). The first time I read it, though I’d dealt with depression a few times already, I still didn’t ‘get’ it. This time around I absolutely got it, for better or worse. The quotes I’m putting up are the ones that most accurately capture the experience of depression, from my point of view.

Only I wasn’t steering anything, not even myself. I just bumped from my hotel to work and to parties and from parties to my hotel and back to work like a numb trolleybus. I guess I should have been excited the way most of the other girls were, but I couldn’t get myself to react. 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.

I wondered why I couldn’t go the whole way doing what I should any more.

I felt very low. I had been unmasked only that morning by Jay Cee herself, and I felt now that all the uncomfortable suspicions I had about myself were coming true, and I couldn’t hide the truth much longer.

I thought how strange it had never occurred to me before that I was only purely happy until I was nine years old.

For me it was eight.

I started adding up all the things I couldn’t do.

Andrew Solomon talks about this in Noonday Demon–about how one begins to feel crushed by all the things one cannot do–even things one doesn’t want to do, but will never be able to.

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