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Me, my daughter and Sylvia Plath

Nicholas Hughes, 47, hanged himself last week. Forty-six years ago Hughes’ mother, poet Sylvia Plath, placed her head in an oven and turned the gas on while her 2-year-old daughter and 13-month-old son, Nicholas, slept. Six years later Nicholas’ stepmother killed herself the same way.

Plath’s book, The Bell Jar, had a profound affect on me. I had never before identified with a fictional character and I became enamored with Plath. In a sick way, she was my hero. I was 16. In hindsight I should not have read that book when I did. I was too young and too sick. Her depression made her feel as though she was trapped under a bell jar, unable to breathe. Finally, someone felt just like me.

Suicide is not hereditary – at least geneticists have not proved it. However, studies have shown that  children whose mothers committed suicide are 7 times more likely to attempt suicide than children whose mothers do not. That statistic is why I am alive. I was suicidal during my last depression. I had tried to kill myself twice before.

My therapist and nurse-practitioner told me that statistic. They asked me to remember it when I had suicidal thoughts. It worked. I could never do that to my daughter. Regardless of how I feel about my own life, I love my daughter more than I imagined I could ever love another person. I would never put her life at risk – ever. Today she is 17. She is happy. She just found a dress for her school’s Junior-Senior Dinner. We are looking at colleges. She framed a picture of us and gave it to me for Christmas. 

She is my anchor to life. I am so blessed to be alive. I have a life I never dreamed of and I am finally the mother I always wanted to be. Don’t quit before the miracle.

Me, my daughter and Sylvia Plath


Christine Stapleton

Christine Stapleton has been a journalist for 35 years. She is now an investigative reporter for The Palm Beach Post. In 2006, began writing a blog for PsychCentral called Depression on My Mind. Her latest blog, Addiction Matters, draws on her 19 years of sobriety and her coverage of the drug treatment industry in South Florida.


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APA Reference
Stapleton, C. (2009). Me, my daughter and Sylvia Plath. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 17, 2020, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/depression/2009/03/me-my-daughter-and-sylvia-plath/

 

Last updated: 24 Mar 2009
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