I actually finished this up right before giving birth, but…. well a lot has slipped the past few weeks!
I struggle with mild anxiety, and I know how much that can debilitate me from functioning – I read this and it hurt. I only brush on the levels of unhappiness, disconnect, and depression Plath expressed – and it was very real.
I do think this is a good book for people to read. Seeing a glimpse of just how consuming (and at times unrealistic) depression is – might help people understand how helpless people are to “just get over it.” Just eat better. Work out. Get up. Blah blah blah. That advice is rarely actually the solution someone needs once they’ve slipped down that far.
As far as depression goes, The Bell Jar I would put on par with Speak – without the issue of rape driving the plot. In fact, I think it does a good job of also exploring some issues of feminism – does a woman have to be a mother? What if she doesn’t want that life? Excellent examination of ambition being non-gendered.
Would I read it again? Yikes…. I don’t think I would for myself. Someday I might read it with my son. Use it as a discussion point. But it won’t be added to me “Sunday afternoon bathtub pick-up” list of books. Would I recommend it? Hell yes. Anyone who has a loved one with mental illness should read this. Anyone who wants to learn some empathy for the struggle of depression and anxiety – read it.