Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Mad Mind of a Poet

Do you have to be mad to be a poet, or does poetry drive people to madness?  An answer to this question will probably never be found, but there is a connection to poetry and mental illness.  Examples of famous poets who dealt with mental illness include Edgar Allen Poe, Sylvia Plath, and Jim Morrison.  These three famous poets were lauded for their contributions to the poetic world, but they all suffered from personal demons.  Edgar Allen Poe struggled with alcoholism throughout his life.  Sylvia Plath committed suicide after battling depression, and Jim Morrison was known to suffer from drug addiction.  Studies have been performed to determine a link between poetry and mental illness without any conclusive evidence, but in many case studies links have been found.  Perhaps, it is because poets like all artist think with the creative side of their brains, and constant use of the creative side starts to weaken the logical side to the point of insanity.  . 

Whatever the link actually is between poetry and mental health, the truth is we have lost a lot of great poets due to mental illness.  Even today there are poets unaware of their mental illness, but an analysis of their writing will scream out this person needs help.  As a community poets should keep an eye out for these signs.  We shouldn't have to lose another poetic genius, because he was left alone to deal with his personal demons.  There are so many advancements in mental health that anyone can seek out help.  No one should feel like things are hopeless and death is the only salvation.  If you are reading a fellow poets work, and you see signs that this person may be struggling with mental illness, try to reach out to them.  Get them talking about their problems, and encourage them to seek out help.  If you are a poet who is dealing with mental illness, don't feel alone.  You have friends who want to help you, and all you need to do is reach out your hand so we can pull you back up. 

Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but if you can't confide in someone you know then try calling the following numbers to find help:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline  1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Depression & Bipolar Support Alliance  1-800-826-3632

Drug and Alcohol Crisis Hotline  1-800-521-7128

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