Edgar Allen Poe, Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath were all famous poets who struggled with mental health issues. Riddled with bipolar disorder, depression and suicidal ideations, these famous poets created poems that were racy and dark, and alluded to their mental instabilities. Was it their mental illnesses that drove them to write their famous poetry? Or did poetry unmask their mental illnesses? Studies have shown that expression through writing can be cathartic for people who are struggling with mental illness.
Edgar Allan Poe’s personal struggles have been fictionalized in novels and film, and his character has served as an archetype for the tormented artist. He was orphaned as a child, grew up with a gambling addiction, joined the army and was discharged, and later dedicated his career to writing prose. On the night of his death, he was found on the streets delirious, incoherent and wearing someone else’s clothes. His death was imminent and the mystery behind his passing was never solved.
Anne Sexton was a Pulitzer Prize winner who was riddled with mental illness for much of her life. She had her first manic episode at the age of 26 and had another one subsequently after. Yet she continued to write great literary work. Unfortunately, she succumbed to her mental illness and committed suicide. Her poetry topics were as racy as her character. She wrote about abortion, incest, masturbation, adultery and drug addiction. Did she choose her topics based on her past experiences and mental illness? Were these topics simply a way to express her feelings?
Sylvia Plath was a well-known poet, novelist and short story writer from Boston. She dealt with depression for most of her life and, sadly, ended her life by suicide. This was not her first suicide attempt as her first attempt was when she was in college.
Many famous poets and artists struggled with mental disorders and substance abuse. Although poetry can be considered a dark sense of expression, it has been shown to help release negative emotion from the brain onto the paper. It is a way of coping with negative experiences and emotions. Poetic therapy is becoming more popular as an alternative cognitive therapy approach for patients who are overwhelmed with depression and sorrow.
In pop culture today, the famous “poets” such as Eminem and Dr. Dre have also dealt with darkness and drug abuse. These artists express their emotions through pen, paper and spoken word. Famous people are just like non-famous people. They need to make money to survive, have feelings and emotions, eat dinner and can succumb to the same mental illnesses and addictions as everyone else.
For individuals who struggle with an addiction and a co-occurring mental health disorder, the Dual Diagnosis Helpline can help. Within the United States, the number of facilities providing high-quality, dual diagnosis treatment for both conditions simultaneously is limited. That is why we are here to help you get the help you deserve. If you are seeking more information about dual diagnosis or require immediate treatment, you can always call 855-981-6047. Look for the other blogs in this National Bad Poetry Day series.