I saw the movie Sylvia yesterday. It is about the poet Sylvia Plath. I chose this movie unaware of her story or even if she was based on truth. A random choice from Netflix with a description that leaves much to be discovered:
A whirlwind courtship kick-starts the tempestuous marriage between American poet and novelist Sylvia Plath (Gwyneth Paltrow) and English poet Ted Hughes (Daniel Craig), an intense and stormy union that quickly dissolves due to Hughes’s philandering and Plath’s insecurity.
The intense struggle began in college:
Following electroconvulsive therapy for depression, Plath made her first medically documented suicide attempt by crawling under her house and taking an overdose of her mother’s sleeping pills. She survived this first suicide attempt after lying unfound in a crawl space for three days, later writing that she “blissfully succumbed to the whirling blackness that I honestly believed was eternal oblivion.” She spent the next six months in psychiatric care, receiving more electric and insulin shock treatment.
After marrying/separating from her husband:
The nurse was due to arrive at nine o’clock the morning of 11 February 1963 to help Plath with the care of her children. Upon arrival, she could not get into the flat, but eventually gained access with the help of a workman. They found Plath dead of carbon monoxide poisoning in the kitchen, with her head in the oven, having sealed the rooms between herself and her sleeping children with wet towels and cloths.
She was prescribed an anti-depressant a few days before her death against a previous doctor’s warning to never again take the anti-depressant drug which she found worsened her depression. It seems the prescription was prescribed under a proprietary name which she could not recognize.
Here are some lines from the film:
“Sometimes I feel like I’m not solid, I’m hollow. There’s nothing behind my eyes, I’m a negative of a person. And as if I never, I never thought anything. I never wrote anything, I never felt anything. All I want is blackness. Blackness and silence.” Sylvia
“So what do you do when your life gets as bad as it can, and it just keeps getting worse?” Sylvia
“You just keep going” Al
“I’m going to die, I’m going to die. Someones got to take care of my babies” Sylvia
“… I really should call a doctor” Mr. Thomas
“Don’t you know what they do. They hook you up to the eastern grid and fill you full of sparks” Sylvia
“I’m just so on edge. It’s all my fault. All I could think about is what could happen if somebody took him away from me. You see, if you fear something enough, you can make it happen? That woman, I conjured her, I invented her.” Sylvia (her husband had an affair & a child with another woman)
“It’s all my fault. I’m so tired. I’m so tired. If I could just sleep a little bit. Just a little bit. I’m so exhausted.” Sylvia
Six years later that woman, Assia, killed herself and her 4-year-old child in similar fashion to Sylvia.
46 years later, in 2009, Sylvia’s son also killed himself.
Children younger than 18 years who lose their parents to suicide are 3 times more likely to die by suicide than are those with living parents, according to a retrospective cohort study conducted in Sweden.
Quoted from Sources:
Children of Parents Who Die by Suicide also at risk for Psychiatric Disorders, Suicide
Sylvia Plath, Wikipedia.org
Sylvia (film-2003) on Netflix
Featured Image Artist: Lisa Perrin