Maybe like me you’re not only interested in finding immediate solutions for your depression problems. Of course that is important, but maybe like me you appreciate a wider perspective as well. For example by taking a look at the past.
We cannot just learn from the past. As I happened to illustrate in my previous post, we can also recognize the life and personalities of psychiatric patients from long ago. Their times and situation and treatment (if any) may have been different, but in essence they were people like us, with problems not really different from our own.
If you share this interest, then here is a remarkable photo project. It’s not just unique: in some respects it’s very touching as well.
What is this photo? It shows some things found in a suitcase.
When in 1995 the former Willard Asylum for the Insane (Ovid, New York) was closed down, in one of its attics about 400 forgotten suitcases were found. They once had belonged to patients, from the 1920s to the 1960s. The suitcases complete with their contents had been left behind after people died, went back home or were transferred to another place. Rather than discarding all unclaimed suitcases, the staff had carefully kept them in store.
One of the people visiting this exposition was photographer John Crispin. He was fascinated enough to start an ambitious long-term project to carefully photograph everything – all those suitcases and what was in each of them.
Each one of the suitcases is a kind of time capsule, so each one of Crispin’s suitcase photos is a very specific, detailed, clear document of the past. At the same time his photos show, through the filter of semi-random trivial objects, what’s been left of these patients’ lives.
Crispin photo’s are respectful, and carefully composed, but they also become more mysterious the longer you look at them, because of all the unanswerable questions that arise, all the untold and perhaps tragic life stories that they suggest.
When I saw these photos I really felt a strong urge to rummage around in those suitcases myself, to find out more about the people who once arrived in the asylum carrying them.
But the best place to go is Jon Crispin’s own blog where he reports about the progress of his Willard Suitcases photo project, with many more photo examples. Do take a look!
There’s one more question that Crispin’s suitcase photos made me ask myself, and that I want to ask to you now.
Suppose you were to leave behind one such small suitcase yourself? As a time capsule for your great-grandchildren, to be opened 80 years from now?
Just a modest little suitcase with some simple small essential things that you would take on a trip, things that may represent you even when you’re long gone yourself: things that will show a glimpse of your life – with the people you loved, the depressions you suffered from, the way you tried to care for yourself, and so on.
Besides your obvious smartphone (and a battery charger that hopefully will work 80 years from now) what little things would you put in that suitcase?
Do you see? When you get this far, Crispin’s project may even tell you something about yourself.
Because I’m still recovering from a really bad depression episode, something light today. A curiosity? No, fashion! Real fashion! I want to show you the latest trend in anti-suicide garments. For use both in prisons and in mental hospitals.
It all began long ago with the well-known straitjacket. Introduced about 1780 in the Paris Asylum de Bicêtre, it soon became a popular means of restriction in 19th-century madhouses. In a straitjacket, the patient could not move his arms or use his hands. Although this was primarily meant to contain aggressive patients, it was also very often used with depressed, suicidal patients: to prevent them from hurting themselves.
This photo from about 1910 shows the escape artist and contortionist Harry Houdini in a standard straitjacket. Houdini was famous for his unique and sensational escape acts. Locked and fettered in all possible ways (for example in an underwater barrel) he always managed to free himself in miraculous ways. The simple straitjacket he is featuring here would not have restrained him for long.
But how do we dress suicidal patients today? For an answer, I consulted the online catalog of Weizel Security, a company that provides thousands of prisons and hospitals in the USA and Canada with all kinds of security products. One section in their catalog is SR: Suicide Resistant things. They offer not just SR walls, doors, plumbing, furniture and blankets. They really have everything you can think of, up to a Suicide Resistant Toothbrush: a handle-less brush that you plug on your fingertip, so your own finger is the handle. Or a “breathing” paper garbage bag, one that you cannot use to suffocate yourself.
Today, we no longer dress suicidal patients to restrain them: we dress them in such a way that their clothing (like the rest of their environment) offers them no practical means to kill themselves with. No buttons. No belts. For this reason the standard Suicide Resistant clothing, the one we know in fact since the 1950s, has always vaguely resembled a classic jumpsuit.
The little picture here shows the SR Suicide Watch Suit offered by Weizel. It has (quote) “Heavy Weight 100% Cotton Denim, Velcro Front Closure, Unibody Construction, Short Sleeves & Legs, No Pockets”. You can order it in two equally cheerful colors: either bright orange or brighter yellow.
But there also is another option, a much more modern and radical alternative: the very latest in anti-suicide fashion. Just like the classic Suicide Watch Suit it will not restrain you. But this new version leaves you even less ways to kill yourself.
One of the remaining problems with standard clothing was that a patient may still devise ways to tear it and/or roll it up, so it might still be possible to use the fabric as an improvised rope to hang yourself. The latest version completely eliminates this risk. It is designed as (I quote again) a “quilted, sleeveless gown with adjustable velcro openings” made from “heavy nylon cordura with 6oz poly fiberfill”. This “reduces ability to roll into a cord”, meaning the garment “reduces ligature risk inherent in standard patient clothing”.
The first time I saw this picture, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry: this state-of-the-art “Safety Smock” looks utterly ridiculous and at the same time so very, very sad. According to the Weizel catalog, it “provides modesty and safety”. Sure, and I really didn’t expect style or elegance, but what about a little human dignity? If you ask me, there’s none left here. None at all.
There’s a lot more we could say about this, not just about this Safety Smock suicide prevention concept itself – or about the limited vision behind it. This photo presentation also raises its own questions. For example, can you explain why they picked these two people to figure as models in this picture? Why do they both have this wild, uncombed hair? What is their facial expression supposed to tell us? Well, I happily leave the answering of all such curious questions to your own intelligence.
I sincerely hope, dear reader, that however bad your depression, you will never end up wearing this modern Safety Smock. If this were to happen to me, my Safety Smock would be just one more reason to feel suicidal.
• question: Talking about being restrained, what is the ultimate straitjacket? Right. That’s our depression itself.
Try teaching yourself a few dirty tricks to wriggle out of the straps. Like a Houdini. It can be done!
What dirty tricks? See many of the tips at the bottom of other posts in this blog.
The last few weeks I’ve been feeling not very well – physically, that is. Yesterday I collapsed completely while frantically gasping for air – the weird and frightening experience of drowning while above water.
So right now I’m writing this from a hospital bed, where I landed with what turned out to be a nasty form of pneumonia. I hope and expect to be up and running again in about a week, maybe sooner if the antibiotics will work the way they’re supposed to.
You can be sure that very soon, I’ll post something here about two things.
One: how any common disease can worsen depression, and what we (ill and all) can do to prevent this.
Two: why every room and every object in a hospital always looks like it’s designed to make for an utterly depressing experience.
But at this moment?
Well, all I can add now is some fitting music. First I was thinking of the great 1974 love song The Air That I Breathe by The Hollies. But on second thought I want to save that one for a post about how I managed to quit smoking five weeks ago. Five full weeks without lighting a cigarette! Yes, that happens to be a related matter.
Hospital music? I am getting a kind of Room Service now… so here is the wonderful band Hey Negrita with their great Room Service song. Even though of course they had a hotel room in mind.
You probably know Florence Nightingale as the “The Lady With The Lamp”: the almost mythical, near-saintly nurse who in the 1850s saved many wounded soldiers by setting up the first modern hospital for them. In many ways, she laid the foundations for professional nursing.
She also was a great mathematician (the first one to use pie chart statistics in her reports) and a prolific writer (not just about nursing).
And she was, for most of her long life, suffering from depressions.
This last aspect is often omitted from the rosy-colored stories about her. But maybe we can learn something from it. I’ve already given a few sad historical examples here of people who lost their battle against depression. So this time, I wanted an historical example of someone who won that battle – and I think Florence Nightingale will do fine.
It is interesting to compare her with artist and model Elizabeth Siddal, who figured here a few weeks ago. Both were born in the 1820s, but their lives were very different. Siddal started from a lower-class background; Nightingale came from a rich upper-class family. Siddal had a poetic, glamorous presence; Nightingale was goal-oriented and practical. Siddal had tumultuous love affairs and a romantic marriage; Nightingale rejected marriage proposals, staying single all her life. Siddal died young and tragically from an overdose; Nightingale died peacefully in 1910 at the age of 90.
But there are parallels, too. Most important, both refused to accept the dull standard role models that were the norm for women in the Victorian period. They both tried hard to find their own way in society, to break the restrictive rules of convention, to create a more original and more meaningful position for themselves. And in that, they were successful: in the 1850s, each became a celebrity in her own right.
Also in both cases, their celebrity status itself was instantly romanticized by admirers. After The Times newspaper was the first to describe her habit of making nightly rounds in the hospital “with a little lamp in her hand”, American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow introduced the phrase “The Lady with the Lamp” in his 1857 poem Santa Filomena. A typical romanticized rendering of the Nightingale story is the 1857 painting “The Mission of Mercy: Florence Nightingale receiving the wounded at Scutari” by Jerry Barrett. Here, Nightingale’s face is the one that lights up among all the others:
If you want a complete overview of Nightingale’s life and work, the Wikipedia page about her is a good starting point. The only thing I want to highlight here, is how she managed to save herself from the claws of depression.
In her twenties, Nightingale became depressed; this was probably worsened by the fact that her family was strongly opposed to her taking up the active role in nursing that she already aspired to as a way out of the rigid, meaningless social role that people expected from upper-class women. She had a few positive experiences (especially when visiting the German Lutheran hospital community at Kaiserswerth, that became an example to her) but also deep depressions.
In May 1850, having read some of the very somber poems by William Cowper, she wrote in her diary that she could identify with his “deep despondency”; and at Christmas Eve she wrote: “In my thirty first year, I can see nothing desirable but death… I cannot understand it. I am ashamed to understand it.” She also wrote “My present life is suicide” and “Oh weary days – oh evenings that seem never to end – for how many years I have watched that drawing room clock… it is not the misery, the unhappiness that I feel is so insupportable, but I feel this habit, this disease gaining ground upon me and no hope, no help. This is the sting of death. Why do I wish to leave this world? God knows I do not suspect a heaven beyond – but that He will set me down in St. Giles, at a Kaiserswerth, there to find my work.”
In the next two years, she managed to turn herself around. She returned to Kaiserswerth and from there wrote in a touchingly reassuring letter to her mother that she felt no longer suicidal: “I find the deepest interest in everything here and am so well in body and mind… I really should be sorry now to leave life. I know you will be glad to hear, dearest mother, this.”
She also began sorting out her thoughts by writing an over 800 pages-long and somewhat rambling collection of essays for herself, later partially published for a wider public as Suggestions for Thought to Searchers after Religious Truth. Maybe just because of the title, some people have later interpreted her turnaround as a kind of religious conversion. I think that is wrong.
More probably, two other things saved her.
Among historians, there is a theory that in the 19th century, people found suicide even more disturbing than murder. An act of murder, in a way, still fitted in the over all Victorian view of human nature, while suicide was conflicting with it in many more troubling ways. For example, suicide was felt to be a worse crime (and formally it was a crime at that time) because unlike with a murder, a suicide also meant that the perpetrator cowardly escaped from final judgment by others. Nightingale may have shared such deeply-rooted conservative moral views, and perhaps this can have helped her to resist her suicidal feelings.
But most important is that she actually did muster the courage and energy to take up the work that she felt she needed so much. In describing this, Nightingale used a starvation metaphor. She told how she had been starving by lack of a real meaning-of-life, and how she finally discovered that this meaningful nursing work was in fact the only possible kind of food that would save her from this deadly starvation. Once she realized that to her this was the only way to stay alive, it gave her the power to carry on. She no longer asked for God to “set her down in St. Giles”; she did it herself. This also became her message to other Victorian women in her Suggestions for Thought: try doing the same!
All this, and the tremendous successes that followed, did not mean that for the rest of her life she was entirely free of depressions.
Thirty years later, in 1881, she confessed in a letter to her friend Mary Clarke: “I cannot remember the time when I have not longed for death. After Sidney Herbert’s death and Clough’s death in 1861, 20 years ago, for years and years I used to watch for death as no sick man ever watched for the morning. It is strange that now bereft of all, I crave for it less.”
It was her work, the sense of being useful to others, that kept her going.
– The Florence Nightingale story has evolved into a common myth; about the positive function of such myths, see here.
The Nightingale myth has left countless traces in modern culture: including music. Perhaps the best known song about her is Lady with the Lamp by the late Grateful Dead guitarist/singer Jerry Garcia:
• tip: I’m afraid that this time I cannot help sounding a little like a Victorian moralist myself. But why should we deny there can be some helpful truth in such now-conventional moral ideas? So here it is:
If your depression is so bad that your life seems totally meaningless, try to make your life meaningful to a few other people. By doing so, you will make it more meaningful to yourself again, too. This is what Florence Nightingale did (on a larger scale). For her, it worked.
• footnote 1: The 1857 Jerry Barrett painting “The Mission of Mercy: Florence Nightingale receiving the wounded at Scutari” is in the National Portrait Gallery, London. The man you see looking in through the window above Nightingale is the painter himself.
• footnote 2: An edited selection from Nightingale’s Suggestions for Thought – including the key essay Cassandra about how women ought to give meaning to their own life – can be found at Amazon.
Internet is to literature what a hamburger is to a steak. Fast food. It is in this hashing vein that I want to bring you The Bell Jar: chopped up into a few smoldering quotes.
This well-known semi-autobiographic novel by the poet Sylvia Plath is about depression, suicidal feelings, trouble with other girls, complex would-be relations with men, and more. Of course I’ll be focusing on the depression side here.
The Bell Jar was published in 1963 when Plath was 30: a month later, she killed herself. She had been using antidepressants at the time, but clearly this hadn’t helped her. Some people blame her husband, poet Ted Hughes, for her suicide. But to be honest, I think that’s nonsense. I think suicidal tendencies were inherent to her personality. And just like I would never blame anyone else for my own two suicide attempts, I cannot imagine that if Plath had survived she would have blamed anyone but herself.
And you are, yes I already thought so, far too depressed to muster the energy and perseverance to read a whole book? Then my selected quotes will take you through it in a few giants’ steps – in less than ten minutes. Maybe in this hamburger format it’s worth the effort? I do have a good dressing to go with it, too:
The song 2 O’Clock in the Morning by Swati (Swati Sharma). A singer who really deserves more attention than she seems to be to be getting. She does have a Facebook page here, and you can find some of her songs on her Myspace page.
This song by Swati is about a girl who in the middle of the night is halfway up climbing to a New York rooftop to… Well, you can guess.
As usual, you’ll have the click my “Play” button to hear it.
Please now do your homework for today. Try reading some snippets. Just see if there’s something you recognize in these lines that Sylvia Plath wrote down almost fifty years ago.
The Bell Jar – In a Few Quotes
It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York. I’m stupid about executions. The idea of being electrocuted makes me sick, and that’s all there was to read about in the papers – goggle-eyed headlines staring up at me on every street corner and at the fusty, peanut-smelling mouth of every subway. It had nothing to do with me, but I couldn’t help wondering what it would be like, being burned alive all along your nerves.
I thought it must be the worst thing in the world.
from chapter 2:
The silence depressed me. It wasn’t the silence of silence. It was my own silence. I knew perfectly well the cars were making noise, and the people in them and behind the lit windows of the buildings were making a noise, and the river was making a noise, but I couldn’t hear a thing. The city hung in my window, flat as a poster.
from chapter 3:
I told Doreen I would not go to the show or the luncheon or the film premiere, but that I would not go to Coney Island either, I would stay in bed. Then I wondered why I couldn’t go the whole way doing what I should any more. This made me sad and tired. Then I wondered why I couldn’t go the whole way doing what I shouldn’t, the way Doreen did, and this made me even sadder and more tired.
from chapter 4:
The next thing I had a view of was somebody’s shoe.
It was a stout shoe of cracked black leather and quite old, with tiny air holes in a scalloped pattern over the toe and a dull polish, and it was pointed at me. It seemed to be placed on a hard green surface that was hurting my right cheekbone.
I kept very still, waiting for a clue that would give me some notion of what to do.
A little to the left of the shoe I saw a vague heap of blue cornflowers on a white ground and this made me want to cry. It was the sleeve of my own bathrobe I was looking at, and my left hand lay pale as a cod at the end of it.
“She’s all right now.”
The voice came from a cool, rational region far above my head. For a minute I didn’t think there was anything strange about it, and then I thought it was strange. It was a man’s voice, and no men were allowed to be in our hotel at any time of the night or day.
from chapter 7:
For the first time in my life, sitting there in the soundproof heart of the UN building between Constantin who could play tennis as well as simultaneously interpret and the Russian girl who knew so many idioms, I felt dreadfully inadequate. The trouble was, I had been inadequate all along, I simply hadn’t thought about it.
The one thing I was good at was winning scholarships and prizes, and that era was coming to an end.
I felt like a racehorse in a world without racetracks or a champion college footballer suddenly confronted by Wall Street and a business suit, his days of glory shrunk to a little gold cup on his mantel with a date engraved on it like the date on a tombstone.
I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story.
From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out.
I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.
from chapter 8:
“Well?” I rapped out, thinking, You can’t coddle these sick people, it’s the worst thing for them, it’ll spoil them to bits.
“Nothing,” Buddy said in a pale, still voice.
“Neurotic, ha!” I let out a scornful laugh. “If neurotic is wanting two mutually exclusive things at one and the same time, then I’m neurotic as hell. I’ll be flying back and forth between one mutually exclusive thing and another for the rest of my days.”
Buddy put his hand on mine.
“Let me fly with you.”
from chapter 10:
I crawled back into bed and pulled the sheet over my head. But even that didn’t shut out the light, so I buried my head under the darkness of the pillow and pretended it was night. I couldn’t see the point of getting up. I had nothing to look forward to. After a while I heard the telephone ringing in the downstairs hall. I stuffed the pillow into my ears and gave myself five minutes. Then I lifted my head from its bolt hole. The ringing had stopped.
Almost at once it started up again.
from chapter 11:
The reason I hadn’t washed my clothes or my hair was because it seemed so silly.
I saw the days of the year stretching ahead like a series of bright, white boxes, and separating one box from another was sleep, like a black shade. Only for me, the long perspective of shades that set off one box from the next had suddenly snapped up, and I could see day after day after day glaring ahead of me like a white, broad, infinitely desolate avenue.
It seemed silly to wash one day when I would only have to wash again the next.
It made me tired just to think of it.
from chapter 11:
The trouble about jumping was that if you didn’t pick the right number of stories, you might still be alive when you hit bottom. I thought seven stories must be a safe distance.
from chapter 12:
Sitting in the front seat, between Dodo and my mother, I felt dumb and subdued.
Every time I tried to concentrate, my mind glided off, like a skater, into a large empty space, and pirouetted there, absently.
from chapter 12:
I hadn’t slept for twenty-one nights.
I thought the most beautiful thing in the world must be shadow, the million moving shapes and cul-de-sacs of shadow. There was shadow in bureau drawers and closets and suitcases, and shadow under houses and trees and stones, and shadow at the back of people’s eyes and smiles, and shadow, miles and miles and miles of it, on the night side of the earth.
I looked down at the two flesh-colored Band-Aids forming a cross on the calf of my right leg.
That morning I had made a start.
I had locked myself in the bathroom, and run a tub full of warm water, and taken out a Gillette blade.
When they asked some old Roman philosopher or other how he wanted to die, he said he would open his veins in a warm bath. I thought it would be easy, lying in the tub and seeing the redness flower from my wrists, flush after flush through the clear water, till I sank to sleep under a surf gaudy as poppies.
But when it came right down to it, the skin of my wrist looked so white and defenseless that I couldn’t do it. It was as if what I wanted to kill wasn’t in that skin or the thin blue pulse that jumped under my thumb, but somewhere else, deeper, more secret, a whole lot harder to get at.
It would take two motions. One wrist, then the other wrist. Three motions, if you counted changing the razor from hand to hand. Then I would step into the tub and lie down.
I moved in front of the medicine cabinet. If I looked in the mirror while I did it, it would be like watching somebody else, in a book or a play.
But the person in the mirror was paralyzed and too stupid to do a thing.
Then I thought maybe I ought to spill a little blood for practice, so I sat on the edge of the tub and crossed my right ankle over my left knee. Then I lifted my right hand with the razor and let it drop of its own weight, like a guillotine, onto the calf of my leg.
I felt nothing. Then I felt a small, deep thrill, and a bright seam of red welled up at the lip of the slash. The blood gathered darkly, like fruit, and rolled down my ankle into the cup of my black patent leather shoe.
I thought of getting into the tub then, but I realized my dallying had used up the better part of the morning, and that my mother would probably come home and find me before I was done.
So I bandaged the cut, packed up my Gillette blades and caught the eleven-thirty bus to Boston.
from chapter 13:
After a discouraging time of walking about with the silk cord dangling from my neck like a yellow cat’s tail and finding no place to fasten it, I sat on the edge of my mother’s bed and tried pulling the cord tight.
But each time I would get the cord so tight I could feel a rushing in my ears and a flush of blood in my face, my hands would weaken and let go, and I would be all right again.
Then I saw that my body had all sorts of little tricks, such as making my hands go limp at the crucial second, which would save it, time and again, whereas if I had the whole say, I would be dead in a flash.
I would simply have to ambush it with whatever sense I had left, or it would trap me in its stupid cage for fifty years without any sense at all. And when people found out my mind had gone, as they would have to, sooner or later, in spite of my mother’s guarded tongue, they would persuade her to put me into an asylum where I could be cured.
Only my case was incurable.
I had bought a few paperbacks on abnormal psychology at the drugstore and compared my symptoms with the symptoms in the books, and sure enough, my symptoms tallied with the most hopeless cases.
The only thing I could read, besides the scandal sheets, were those abnormal- psychology books. It was as if some slim opening had been left, so I could learn all I needed to know about my case to end it in the proper way.
I wondered, after the hanging fiasco, if I shouldn’t just give it up and turn myself over to the doctors, and then I remembered Doctor Gordon and his private shock machine. Once I was locked up they could use that on me all the time.
And I thought of how my mother and brother and friends would visit me, day after day, hoping I would be better. Then their visits would slacken off, and they would give up hope. They would grow old. They would forget me.
They would be poor, too.
They would want me to have the best of care at first, so they would sink all their money in a private hospital like Doctor Gordon’s. Finally, when the money was used up, I would be moved to a state hospital, with hundreds of people like me, in a big cage in the basement.
The more hopeless you were, the further away they hid you.
from chapter 14:
“Don’t you want to get up today?”
“No.” I huddled down more deeply in the bed and pulled the sheet up over my head. Then I lifted a corner of the sheet and peered out. The nurse was shaking down the thermometer she had just removed from my mouth.
“You see, it’s normal.” I had looked at the thermometer before she came to collect it, the way I always did. “You see, it’s normal, what do you keep taking it for?”
I wanted to tell her that if only something were wrong with my body it would be fine, I would rather have anything wrong with my body than something wrong with my head, but the idea seemed so involved and wearisome that I didn’t say anything. I only burrowed down further in the bed.
from chapter 20:
Doctor Nolan said, quite bluntly, that a lot of people would treat me gingerly, or even avoid me, like a leper with a warning bell. My mother’s face floated to mind, a pale reproachful moon, at her last and first visit to the asylum since my twentieth birthday. A daughter in an asylum! I had done that to her.
“We’ll take up where we left off, Esther,” she had said, with her sweet, martyr’s smile. “We’ll act as if all this were a bad dream.”
A bad dream.
To the person in the bell jar, blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is the bad dream.
A bad dream.
There ought, I thought, to be a ritual for being born twice – patched, retreaded and approved for the road, I was trying to think of an appropriate one when Doctor Nolan appeared from nowhere and touched me on the shoulder.
“All right, Esther.”
I rose and followed her to the open door.
Pausing, for a brief breath, on the threshold, I saw the silver-haired doctor who had told me about the rivers and the Pilgrims on my first day, and the pocked, cadaverous face of Miss Huey, and eyes I thought I had recognized over white masks.
The eyes and the faces all turned themselves toward me, and guiding myself by them, as by a magical thread, I stepped into the room.
• tip: If you really got all the way down to here, maybe now you do want to read the full Bell Jar. You can get the book from Amazon.
If you have an E-book reader that handles PDF files, you can also simply download the book in PDF format (from nubuk.com).
May 25, 1965 –
Ethel du Pont (49, former wife of President Roosevelt's son Franklin Delano Roosevelt Jr.) hangs herself in her bathroom with the belt of her dressing gown. She had mentioned suicide several times before and was “under psychiatric care” for her depressions.
In the 1930s, as a wealthy heiress from the Du Pont family, she had been a well-known socialite. In 1937 her marriage with the President's son had been a major event, with the couple being featured on the cover of Time Magazine. After their divorce in 1949 she had married lawyer Benjamin Warren.
Following Ethel's suicide, the rich Du Pont family established the Harvard Medical School Ethel du Pont-Warren Fellowship Award to specifically support psychiatric research.