To the Lighthouse: The Bipolar Experience in Female Writing

The trend in today’s society is that the phenomena of silence, shame, stigma, ignorance still exists around the burning, global issues of mental health when it comes to female poets and writers. It is imperative that all of us fight against the silence and fight for the dignity for sufferers of mental illness. We should assess the ‘name and blame’ game. People who suffer from mental illness should not be seen as outsiders or be isolated and rejected from their workplace, churches, communities and neighborhoods and their families  and loved ones.

They should be embraced and accepted for who they are so that they can retain a sense of self-sufficiency, self-respect and return to society as productive human beings who are capable of interacting with their peers and colleagues in every sphere and realm of life.

We must take cognizance of the daily tragedies of stigmatization, which must be fought tooth and nail. People often find that they are caught in a difficult situation when it comes to confronting people or coming into contact with people who suffer from mental illness. Many people suffer in silence from mental illness out there.

People must be taught to appreciate another person’s point of view when it comes to the issue of mental health. When it comes to issues of mental health ignorance is not bliss. We should wise up and recognize the familiar outpourings of guilt and calls for forgiveness from sufferers.

It is time for both sufferers, their families to stand in the gap, stand our ground, accept and work towards making new inroads, and daily breakthroughs in our own lives and let sufferers of mental illness learn from their painful past and personal experience. Often experiences can be humiliating, hurtful and can bring negative images and feelings to mind to the sufferer especially if they are suffering from depression.

It is time for the knowledge of personal growth, the awareness of mental health and the physical and emotional wellbeing of men, women and children across the spectrum to be shared and respected in support groups. People who suffer from mental illness must always be motivated to achieve happiness, longevity and productivity in their lives.

Stigmatization is a toxic syndrome. It leads people to believe that people who suffer from mental illness are ‘crazy’, ‘nuts’, ‘psycho’ and that they are beyond any form of simple help like caring, kindness, acceptance or even tolerance for who they are as human beings.

The more people who suffer and their families speak about the trials of living daily with a mental illness the less blatant, hurtful, painful, embarrassing, humiliating and prevalent the stigma will be.

Being outspoken about the stigma will not be easy. It will come with its own drawbacks and setbacks. The people who are outspoken about mental health issues will sometimes find themselves being isolated, alienated, demotivated and rejected in certain social circles of society who see mental illness as a ‘crutch’ or as an excuse to get out of their daily responsibilities and livelihood.

The best way to seek resolutions when confronted with a situation beyond your control or dealing with someone who is mentally ill is to always remain open minded and giving. Know your boundaries, where you draw them and the person’s limitations.

In the society that we live in today it is necessary to understand the mentally ill sufferer and their family, what all the individuals concerned go through on a daily basis and realise the difficulties that they have in forming meaningful relationships with other people in all spheres of life; across a broad, indiscriminate spectrum and background because of their response time, their reactions, their actions and their negative feelings. Especially the negative feelings that arise from being treated differently.

Many historical figures, famous people even celebrities have proved that they could make a positive, consistent and effective contribution to change the course of history or an entire generation despite the pitfalls of suffering from a mental illness. Here we think particularly of Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Marilyn Monroe, Sylvia Plath, and Vincent Van

Gogh, Anne Sexton, Ernest Hemingway and Virginia Woolf.

Although the stigma can seemingly color your life, make your gravitate towards depression, and ground you to a manic halt in your daily life. Although it will mark the essence of your soul, make the days seem dark and dismal; there are still exquisite and vibrant lessons to be learnt on how society still needs to adapt and adjust itself to the negativities and stigma that at times abound wildly, with no end in sight in the internal world. The hemisphere of our brain. Everything in life I have learned is there, not always perfectly orchestrated but there because of a careful decision sometimes within our grasp and sometimes without.

Abigail George
Abigail George
Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominated shortlisted and longlisted poet Abigail George is a recipient of four writing grants from the National Arts Council, the Centre for Book and ECPACC. She briefly studied film, writes for The Poet, is an editor at MMAP and Contributing Writer at African Writer. She is a blogger, essayist, writer of several short stories, novellas and has ventured out to write for film with two projects in development . She was recently interviewed for Sentinel, and the BBC.