Manic Depression/Bipolar Disorder Case Study: Sylvia Plath

Manic Depression/Bipolar Disorder Case Study: Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath was born October 27, 1932 and took her life on February 11, 1963 at the age of 30.   At the age of 19, she began suffering from symptoms of manic depression.  When she was 20, she was unable to get into a Harvard writing class.  Completely disappointed, she inflicted her legs with wounds—lashes and cuts.  She swallowed her mother’s sleeping pills and slipped into a coma for two days.  She was hospitalized for six months.  During this time, she was given insulin treatments and electroshock therapy. 

She married Ted Hughes in 1956.  Years later, in 1962, their marriage ended due to Hughes leaving her for another woman.  Plath was left alone to care for their two children, Freida and Nicholas.  In 1963, Plath published The Bell JarThe Bell Jar is based on Plath’s life and her struggle with mental illness.  Just days prior to her suicide, her physician, Dr. Horder, prescribed her anti-depressants for her symptoms.  She committed suicide by turning the gas oven on in her kitchen and inhaling the fumes.  The live-in nurse and a building workman, Mr. Langridge, discovered Plath dead with her head in the oven.

 

Ninety percent (90%) of people who commit suicide suffer from a mental illness (Maddux & Winstead, 2012).

 

Manic Depression is also known as Manic Depressive Disorder or Bipolar Disorder.

 

“I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead

I lift my lids and all is born again

the stars go waltzing out in blue and red

I think I made you up inside my head

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed

and sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead

I think I made you up inside my head

I fancied you’d return the way you said

but I grow old and I forget your name

I should have loved a thunderbird instead

at least when spring comes they roar back again

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead

I think I made you up inside my head ”

–Sylvia Plath (1932 – 1963)

 

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