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Her Great Depression by Maria Angelica M. Ape | art by Keanu Joseph P. Rafil

To the person in the bell jar, blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is the bad dream.” As Esther’s mother suggests her dementia should be taken care of as if it were a bad dream—something that can just be forgotten—Esther, as a matter of fact, feels that madness is like being trapped in a bad dream in which she cannot wake up from. Esther Greenwood is Sylvia Plath’s slightly altered persona in her novel, The Bell Jar. The story, however, does not revolve on the the protagonist portraying martyr-like acts. And while most of today’s projection of mental health in media orbits around blaming one’s instability to men, society, or themselves, Plath successfully stowed away. Although excoriating on it, Esther blames mental illness for her mental illness. The topic on mental health has been embedded in literature since time immemorial; dating from the Victorian-era up to today’s young adult best sellers. Through the years, the stigma associated with mental illness has long been remaining intense despite high prevalence rates of mental health problems globally. Its promotion has been largely ignored and has been projected differently in media—may it be through radio, tv, film or print. Years later, books novelizing mental health depicted that somehow the romantic kind of love is a remedy for depression and anxiety to be cured. Needless to say, mental illness seems to be even less understood now compared to the previous generations. But not all books portraying mental health were executed poorly. In the last few decades, there had been a number of books that authentically illustrated mental health. Aside from fiction, authors share their experiences in raw, first person 10


accounts through publishing their own memoirs. “I was trying to explain my situation to myself. My situation was that I was in pain and nobody knew it, even I had trouble knowing it. So I told myself, over and over, You are in pain. It was the only way I could get through to myself. I was demonstrating externally and irrefutably an inward condition.” In “Girl, Interrupted,” the story is told from the account of a young woman’s long-term stay at the McLean Hospital, a top-rated psychiatric hospital helping those living with conditions such as addiction and borderline personality disorder. The story overlooks the lives of female patients suffering with severe mental illnesses. Though the story was short-lived, the memoir opens dialogue regarding false diagnoses, the stigmatization of those receiving a mental health diagnosis. A theme in the book shows how sexist

Joust Volume 1  
Joust Volume 1