Helen Hastings Reflects On The Words Of Poet Sylvia Plath

A mental health blog which touches on the minds of creative people and reflects on late poet Sylvia Plath.

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A mental health blog which touches on the minds of creative people and reflects on late poet Sylvia Plath.

‘I am, I am, I am’ the immortal words of the poet Sylvia Plath (1932-63), a simple repetition of words that should not bear any significance in the literary world writes Helen Hastings.

They should only be part of a larger sentence, swept over and lost in a jumble of other letters all trying to make sense. Instead of which they seem to burn through the page, igniting everything around us. 

It is one woman’s agonising struggle with the existentialist war that raged silently inside of her for years, communicated in a staggeringly simple manner.  

Helen Hastings, Down News blogger, reflects on late poet Sylvia Plath and on mental health.

As a writer, I firmly believe that our writer brains are very different from all the other ‘normal’ brains. We are hardwired to feel pain and other people’s pain, to read between the lines and see the emotional battle scars that are invisible to most. 

Like Sylvia, we can communicate tragedy in simple tones, the pen barely touching the paper sometimes but at other times, the slew of emotions can feel like a rabid animal, clawing its way through our minds while we fight our way through our daily lives trying to make sense of what our place is on this Planet.   

Over thinking is a creative tool that we frequently bash around with, it opens doors and tears down walls, allowing us to view our world as one continuous  landscape of plot twists and beautiful characters. 

But we are writers… we have an outlet for it while others may not. In others, it can be one pulsating lump, made up of heartache, guilt and anger and no plans of dispersing any time soon. People talk of a weight being on their shoulders, but that is a dire understatement.

Sylvia died.  Even her art couldn’t save her.  Maybe those around her just viewed her as another ‘tortured poet’ someone with too much to say and not enough to do. 

Her lamentations of “I am…” were in fact a love letter to the chaos forming in her mind and her struggle to understand her place in life, a chaos that a great deal of us recognise but can’t put into words.

It’s no secret that life can seem like an impossible map of pigeon holes that somehow we all have to fit into. We force our hearts and minds into weird shapes that don’t suit us, that cause us emotional and mental pain.  We risk becoming shadows of the vibrant magical beings that we were all born to be, getting lost in a world that has conformity at its helm. 

So, this article is for all the Sylvia’s out there, I see you, each and every one of you.  I see you shimmering and sparkling, lighting up the world and changing lives all because there were some pieces of your heart that you would never ever give away. 

You had the strength to say to an ever controlling and frightening world “No!  This bit is mine and you can’t have it“.

You are not lost, you are here and I am so glad.