illustrations by Alissa Martin

“… if only something were wrong with my body it would be fine. I would rather have anything wrong with my body than something wrong with my head.”

– Sylvia Plath, “The Bell Jar”

Content Warning: This piece has mentions of self harm, suicide, suicidal ideation and sexual assault

*Names has been changed for privacy reasons

When you tell a doctor or therapist that you cut yourself, they always ask, very matter-of-factly, “To feel or to kill?”

If you don’t want to be committed, you say, “To feel.”

To cut yourself to feel, though, you need to know how to do both, so you don’t accidentally kill yourself. I knew how to cut myself, “to kill.”

But I couldn’t do it.

I wanted to die, but I didn’t want my friends to have to write my obituary. I didn’t want the guy I’d accused of sexual assault to think my suicide was his fault. I had a final in an hour. I needed to study.

I slapped some Band-Aids over the non-life-threatening cuts I did make and rolled my turtleneck sleeves back down. My forearms stung.

I should have left school then, but I didn’t. I waited another year, which I barely made it through, before my friends and professors convinced me to take a “medical leave of absence” for depression.

My pediatrician signed off on a document, via email, confirming I’d been clinically depressed since high school. 

And I left.

***

I made a doctor’s appointment a few days after I got home. My usual physician was unavailable, but would I like to see Dr. Weber*?

“Sure,” I said. “Thank you.”

 Dr. Weber was a young, baby-faced blond who most of my friends would think was cute. I thought he looked like the attractive older guy in a teen movie who turns out to be the villain, driving the main female character to realize she’s been in love with her childhood best friend the whole time.

“Your regular doctor said you’ve been having some issues with depression,” he said, taking a seat. “How long has that been going on?”

“It started in 10th grade, but it got worse my sophomore year of college, and it’s been bad on-and-off since then,” I recited.

“Mm-hm,” Dr. Weber said, typing notes on his laptop. He was totally Kelly’s type. Maybe Samantha’s, too.

“You’re on Prozac?”

“Yes.”

“How many milligrams?”

“Forty.”

“And it’s not helping?”

“Not really.”

“Do you ever have thoughts of suicide or self-harm?” Dr. Weber asked.

“Yes.”

“Which one?”

“Both.”

“Do you ever self-harm?” he asked.

“I cut myself sometimes,” I said. He asked if he could see; I rolled up my sleeves and showed him.

“Well, that’s not good,” he said. “You can’t be doing that.”

Noted. 

He asked if I’d thought about inpatient therapy. I said yes.

 “Is there anything stopping you from checking in today?” he asked.

 “I’m not ready,” I said. “I want to see how I feel at home and if anything changes.”

 Dr. Weber looked suspicious. “But if you’re thinking about killing yourself …”

 “I won’t,” I said quickly.

 He still looked suspicious.

 “Okay,” he said. “If you promise not to hurt yourself in the meantime, will you come back and see me on Monday?”

 “Yes,” I said.

 “You’ve got to promise you won’t hurt yourself,” he repeated.

 “I promise.”

 “If you feel like you want to, you’d better call me.”

On Monday, having not killed myself, I drove back to the doctor’s office.

 “Okay,” I said, as if I had his phone number. 

 On Monday, having not killed myself, I drove back to the doctors’ office. I waited under a rainbow-colored corgi mural until Dr. Weber brought me back to an examination room.

“How do you feel?” he asked.

“The same,” I said.

“The same?”

“I don’t feel any different,” I clarified. “I’m still depressed.”

Dr. Weber jotted the name of a hospital on a Post-It note and handed it to me.

“This is the place I send people with health insurance,” he said quietly, like it was a secret. “They’ll take good care of you there if you choose to do inpatient.”

“Do you think it’s a good idea?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said. “I’ll call them tomorrow morning and tell them you’re coming. Okay?”

 Did I want to check myself into inpatient, or wait until I was bad enough that my friends or family had to do it?

Neither, I thought. But that no longer felt like an option.

If inpatient didn’t work, I reasoned, maybe I could kill myself and not feel terrible about it. At least then, I would have tried everything.

“Okay,” I said.

***

Did I want to check myself into inpatient, or wait until I was bad enough that my friends or family had to do it?

Neither, I thought. But that no longer felt like an option.

The next day, I sat across from a social worker at a hospital in suburban Cleveland, in a cold room that looked and felt as if it were meant for police interrogations. 

I clutched my bag, which held my phone, an empty notebook and pen, “The Winds of War” by Herman Wouk and the lighter-hearted young adult novel “Isla and the Happily Ever After” by Stephanie Perkins. I was only allowed to keep one after I checked in.

The social worker asked me the same questions Dr. Weber had, and added a few.

“Are your parents still together?”

“Yes.”

“Did you experience any childhood trauma?”

“No.”

“Have you ever been sexually assaulted?”

I was quiet long enough that she looked up. She repeated the question I never knew how to answer. I thought I’d been sexually assaulted. But my school told me I hadn’t. Maybe I hadn’t.

“Have you ever been sexually assaulted?” The social worker repeated.

“No,” I said. “Actually, yes. But it wasn’t rape.”

I declined to elaborate. I thought I might throw up if I had to recount it in explicit detail one more time to one more person behind a desk. The social worker jotted something down.

“Are you interested in our outpatient program?” she asked.

“I’m interested in inpatient,” I said. “I don’t know what else to do.”

“Well, I always say, if you feel you need to be here, there’s room.”

The social worker told me I would see a psychiatrist right away, then every other day. There were group therapy sessions every couple hours, and I’d have access to a gym, kitchen and common area with a TV.

Did I want to check myself into inpatient or did I want to put my friends or family in a place where they had to?

Neither.

***

After I checked in, the social worker gave me hospital scrubs to change into while I waited to be admitted to the 1600 block, whatever that meant. I gave her my jeans and oversized turtleneck and then waited, in the baggy blue scrubs, outside her office.

I had to give up my bag, but she let me keep “The Winds of War” and my phone (for now). Trying to distract myself, I opened up my New York Times crossword puzzle app.

A few minutes later, two police officers entered from a back doorway. One gently told me they were bringing someone in on a stretcher soon, and that I might want to move.

“Nothing better than a good book,” one of the officers said, nodding toward me. I smiled back, not bothering to point out that I was just using “The Winds of War” to prop up my cell phone.

The social worker returned, and let me jot down some important phone numbers before I had to surrender my phone. Then she handed me off to a nurse, who led me to the 1600 block.

That nurse gave me more forms to fill out. She instructed me to sit on a metal folding chair in the hallway and wait.

There were no clocks anywhere, so I had no way to judge how much time was passing. They’d taken “The Winds of War” with the rest of my belongings, to be checked for hidden drugs and needles, so I had nothing to do but sit and be anxious.

At one point, the guy who’d been wheeled in on a stretcher earlier passed me.

“You good?” he asked.

I nodded, wondering if I seemed particularly distressed. Maybe it was the fact that I’d been sitting in the hallway wearing hospital scrubs for at least half an hour.

More patients passed and asked, “You good?”

Obviously not, I wanted to snap. Neither are you. We’re in a mental hospital.

But every time I just nodded. Two of the patients were thrilled to tell me there was Gatorade in the kitchen if I wanted, as if you had to check into a mental hospital to drink Gatorade.

Eventually, after it felt like everyone in the facility had passed and stared at me and asked whether I was good or offered me Gatorade, a nurse told me I could go to my room. She led me there, and I found a room with two beds, two desks and no door. A woman was asleep in one of the beds, snoring loudly.

My desk held the only belongings I was allowed to keep: “The Winds of War,” deodorant, Chapstick, reading glasses and my shoes.

When the nurse left, all I wanted to do was lie down and maybe cry. But would that make me look crazy? I opened “The Winds of War” and stared at the first page until it blurred.

After a few chapters, my roommate stirred. She noticed me and introduced herself.

“Sorry I’ve been out all morning,” she said. “They gave me the wrong dose of sleep meds last night.”

She passed out again before I could reply.

I couldn’t stare at “The Winds of War” any longer. I wandered out into the hallway, found the phone bank and dialed my dad’s office number.

I explained to my father that I’d checked myself into the facility in Willoughby and not to worry if I wasn’t answering my phone. I’d discussed it with my parents the night before, but hadn’t confirmed I was going to check myself in; I didn’t want them to talk me out of it.

“Do you want me to get you out of there?” he asked.

“No,” I said. “I think I need to be here.”

“Okay,” he said. “Well, you call me if you change your mind.”

“I will.”

On my way back to my room, I asked a passing nurse if I could see a psychiatrist that day, as promised by the social worker who checked me into the facility.

“Oh, no,” she said. “Dr. Lucas* is only here from 5 to 8 a.m. every other day. You might see him later this week.”

“What?”

“Dr. Lucas is only here in the morning,” the nurse repeated. “You might not see him for a few days.”

In the past couple weeks, I’d found comfort in telling myself a psychiatric hospital in 2019 couldn’t possibly be as bad as the one in “The Bell Jar” — Sylvia Plath’s 1963 autobiographical novel about her own time in a psychiatric facility. But this facility was worse. At least Esther Greenwood, Plath’s protagonist, had access to medical care when she was hospitalized.

“I want to leave, please,” I blurted, no longer caring if I sounded crazy.

I clutched “The Winds of War” like a security blanket. Without clocks or news or Netflix, it was the only thing tethering me to reality.

The nurse gave me a grin that I felt was a little too smug, given the situation. “I’ll send someone to talk to you.”

I waited in my room, trying to focus on “The Winds of War” and ignore my drugged, snoring roommate. I had made a huge mistake.

After a few chapters, a woman knocked on our doorway.

“Kirby?” she said. “I’m Nicole, the head nurse. Why don’t we go chat?”

Nicole brought me to a roomy storage closet, where we sat in metal folding chairs next to shelves stocked with toiletries and pillows. I wished I’d put my shoes on so I felt a little more dignified. She asked why I was there.

Nicole stopped me to ask what Title IX was, and I explained to the hospital’s head nurse that it was the law dictating public universities’ sexual assault policies (among many, many other things).

I continued. Sometimes I cut myself, and I thought about killing myself a lot, but I’d probably never do it. I was there because I’d been in therapy for years and had tried three different antidepressants, but none helped. This was my last resort but, I quickly realized, not the right place for me.

I reiterated that I wanted to leave, please.

“Is it because there are men here?” Nicole asked. I said no.

“Is it because there are scary men here, with tattoos?” she tried again.

I insisted I wasn’t afraid of men, or people with tattoos, or even combinations of both, but Nicole didn’t believe me.

She offered to move me closer to the nurse’s station, in the center of the facility, so if I saw a man and became “triggered” I could cry out for help (as if anyone was around to help).

Nicole also offered to move me to the ward with other patients struggling with depression and anxiety.

“Is that not where I am?”

“Oh, no,” she said. “You mentioned you had a drinking problem, so they placed you with the drug and alcohol addicts.”

I tried to explain that, actually, I’d said I had maybe drunk a little too much at school that semester, but not since I’d been home. I’d been very clear that I had come to be treated for depression.

“Huh,” Nicole said.

Would I like to be moved to the 1400 block? It was where the schizophrenic people lived, but I’d have my own room.

“No,” I said. “I just want to leave, please.”

That was impossible, she explained, but she could move me to the correct block and place me with a roommate less than 50 years my senior, if I wanted.

While retaining the facility’s overall prison hospital vibes, the 1500 block (for people with depression and anxiety) was a little less threatening. The walls were yellow, not gray, and there were other 20-somethings there.

My new roommate was Katie, who wasn’t in the room but, Nicole assured me, was also a college student. She had a copy of Stephen King’s “It” on her desk, on top of some crossword puzzle books, and not much else.

As soon as Nicole left, I found the 1500 block phone bank and called my dad. I relayed the fact that the hospital had placed me in the wrong ward, promised me therapy I wasn’t going to receive and misinterpreted everything I tried to tell them. 

“I’ve been reading the Google reviews of that place,” my dad said. “We never should have let you go there. I’m getting you out.”

I told him that was probably impossible, since I’d signed myself in for 72 hours of treatment, but he repeated that he was going to make the hospital let me out.

“I’m gonna go ape shit on them if they don’t,” he said.

***

I read “The Winds of War” until Nicole knocked on my doorway.

“Hi, Kirby,” she said. “Your dad is at the front desk, and he’s making a scene.”

Feigning shock, I apologized and asked if I could see him. Nicole told me she could arrange a meeting in a visitation room and led me there.

My dad was ushered in shortly after, sweater vest on, billowy work coat folded over his arm. He was fuming.

Why were they keeping me if Dr. Weber called and told them they didn’t need to? Why had they lied about how much treatment I was going to receive?

Did Nicole want the hospital to be sued? Because he was prepared to take legal action. Did she know I was a journalist? I could easily publicize how awful this place was.

My father and Nicole went back and forth for at least 15 minutes, and Nicole didn’t budge. She insisted I was keeping things from him, and that he didn’t comprehend the scope of my issues.

“What, the cutting? I know about that,” my dad said.

“Well, there are other things Kirby disclosed to me privately …”

“The Title IX stuff? I know about that, too,” he said, and turned to me. “Is there anything you’re not telling me?”

“No,” I said honestly.

Nicole said I’d told her otherwise. I hadn’t.

She agreed to leave us alone for a few minutes.

My dad and I had a running inside joke that he could do anything. Once at an elementary school father-daughter dance, I urged him to enter a hula-hoop contest, even though he’d never done it before. He won. 

Then at my little sister’s rock-climbing birthday party, he beat my cousin Jacob to the top, even though he’d never rock-climbed before. His friends joked that he was a ticket broker, not a stockbroker, because he could get them into any Cleveland-area event at any time. As far as I was concerned, my dad really could do anything, except breathe without a sleep apnea mask at night and .

But he couldn’t get me out of the psychiatric hospital.

Nicole returned, and promised to score me a meeting with the elusive head psychiatrist, Dr. Lucas, when he arrived at 5 a.m. the next morning. She also promised to help me set up an appointment with a therapist once I got out, which would show Dr. Lucas I was serious about getting better.

My dad left. Defeated, I went back to my room and read “The Winds of War” until Nicole appeared to escort me to her office. I apologized for my dad’s rudeness, but she said she’d seen it before in other “protective” parents.

Her office was mostly bare, except for a few framed photos of her son and a large plastic box of snacks I assumed she bribed patients with. I watched her Google “Cleveland therapists.”

 Nicole scrolled through the list of results, and randomly clicked on women within a 30-mile radius of my house.

“How about her?” she’d say, as if I could discern anything about the doctors from dated headshots and their office addresses.

Not wanting to be difficult, I said, “She looks nice,” to all of them. Nicole left messages with four or five, and two got back to her. We scheduled appointments, and I jotted the information down on my yellow “Winds of War” Post-It bookmark.

Nicole asked if there was anything else she could do as she led me back to my block. I didn’t want to be any more trouble, but I couldn’t ignore the pounding in my head any longer, and requested ibuprofen.

“Sure,” she said. “I’ll notify your nurse.”

Who the hell is my nurse?

I would later learn everyone in the facility was supposed to be assigned a personal nurse, who they could go to for anything they needed. I was never told who mine was.

Without explaining, Nicole let me in through the door to 1500. I was met with a line of people led by a short, twiggy brunette who didn’t look older than 14. She stared me down.

“Who are you?” she asked. Before I could answer, she turned to a passing male employee. “Who is she?”

The guy stopped. “Katie*? Weren’t you supposed to go home yesterday?”

“Yeah, but I had a breakdown over the weekend,” Katie said flatly. “So I stayed.”

I introduced myself, and Katie asked if I wanted to eat dinner with “us” — her, a girl and two guys. I was terrified of everyone around me, but also in no position to refuse social interaction, so I accepted.

We were shepherded into the hallway and told to wait until the 1600 block members had all returned to their rooms. 

Katie asked what had brought me there.

“Drinking and depression,” I said. Even in a mental hospital, I was worried “cutting” would make me sound too unstable.

“You don’t look like you have a drinking problem,” one of her friends said.

“Is it the turtleneck?” I asked. No one laughed.

“You don’t look like you should be here,” Katie said.

“Thank you?”

Sitting with Katie and her friends at dinner, trying to pick the noodles out of some kind of congealing gray beef dish, I felt like I’d been accepted into the facility’s most popular clique. Katie, the spindly teenager, clearly ran the place; she knew every other patient by name and reason they were there. She was concerned with one of the women at the table next to us, who — somehow — kept finding ways to cut herself with shards of glass.

Katie and friends explained that the 1400 block was where the “really crazy” people went. If someone did something stupid in 1500 (where we were), everyone would cry out, “Send ‘em to 1400!”

One of Katie’s friends proudly announced that she’d narrowly avoided being placed in 1400, because she was there for setting her boyfriend on fire.

“It just burned the alcohol on his clothes, though,” she clarified. “He’s fine.”

He was supposed to pick her up at the end of the week.

***

Every five minutes or so after dinner, I asked whoever I could find for ibuprofen, and eventually someone told me to wait by the nurse’s station. I sat while everyone else got their meds.

“You good?” Katie asked me.

“Yep,” I said.

“You good?” one of her friends asked a few minutes later.

“Yep,” I said.

This continued for some time with nearly every passerby.

At one point, a couple security guards and a nurse rushed past me into the hallway with the bedrooms. I switched chairs so I could peer into it, and found the woman at dinner Katie had been worried about, wandering the hall aimlessly. Her arms were both bleeding.

“She’s going to 1400 for sure,” someone said.

Eventually a nurse called “Miss Davis” over to the window and handed me a cup with Motrin and Prozac, and another one with water.

I was told to head to the common room, where group therapy was supposed to start soon. There were no clocks anywhere, so I could only judge time by how much of “The Winds of War” I’d read and how dark it was outside. Byron had just confessed his love for Natalie. I guessed it was around 8 p.m.

In the common room, Katie saved me a seat next to her at a round table near the back. The grown men were all clustered around the TV watching football, and a handful of other people were coloring with stubby crayons or reading their own books.

I clutched “The Winds of War” like a security blanket. Without clocks or news or Netflix, it was the only thing tethering me to reality.

Two girls who looked younger than me, who appeared to be leading us all in the absence of any certified nurses or doctors, announced that we were going to start “Group.”

One of them instructed us to take a sheet of paper and (with crayons, of course, lest we stab ourselves with something sharper) draw a timeline of our life’s goals. Once we showed them our timelines, we could go to bed or watch “Hancock,” the movie Katie insisted on playing.

While we waited for the crayon line to die down, Katie passed me her composition book.

“You said you’re a writer?” she asked. I nodded.

“Can you read my poetry?” she asked. “You can tell me if it’s good or not.”

“Absolutely.” I needed a break from my World War II drama, though I guessed a mental hospital patient’s poetry would be even darker, and I was right.

Katie was battling an eating disorder and depression, I gathered from her poems. She’d said she was in high school but seemed younger.

I told Katie her poetry was deep and moving, and I scribbled a timeline of my life as quickly as possible.

Get out of here. Finish school. Go to grad school. Get a job. Get a dog and retire to a nice Midwestern lake house, eventually.

I couldn’t find anyone besides the camp counselors who worked for the hospital, so I couldn’t ask for a blanket or pillow. I laid on my balled-up turtleneck and tried to read “The Winds of War” from the dim street light filtering through the window.

I wondered which season of “America’s Next Top Model” my housemates were watching in Oxford.

***

In the middle of the night, a nurse flipped mine and Katie’s light on and took our blood pressure. He said nothing after gruffly demanding I give him my arm.

Shortly after, another nurse barged into our room and turned the light on again. She rolled a cart over to my bed and rasped, “I need to take your blood.”

Worried that any kind of resistance would prevent me from leaving in the morning, I offered her my right arm. She botched the blood drawing, leaving my arm bruised for a month.

The nurse haphazardly slapped a Band-Aid near the affected area, which fell off by itself minutes after she wheeled back out of the room. Blood soaked through my sweater which, thankfully, was dark gray, and snaked down my arm. I rinsed as much as I could in the sink, fighting a panic attack about a nurse checking in and thinking I cut myself. I flushed the Band-Aid down the toilet and returned to bed, still bleeding into my sweater.

Hours later, but still before sunrise, the light flipped on again.

“Miss Davis?” a rough male voice said. “I’m Dr. Lucas. Let’s talk.”

I followed him down the hall and into the same room where I’d spoken with my father a day before. I gave him the same speech I’d given Nicole — I was told I would receive exponentially more treatment than I actually was, my family would fully support my trying to get better at home and I already had appointments the following week with psychiatrists.

Dr. Lucas was short, with a few dark hairs straining over his scalp, and looked like he’d never smiled before. He asked if I was in college. I said yes, at Miami of Ohio.

“So you’re a smart girl,” he said. “You know why you’re here.”

Before I’d left school, one of my professors asked why I was missing classes and not turning in homework assignments. I told her I was depressed.

“Of course you’re depressed,” she’d said. “You’re too smart not to be depressed.”

I swallowed a ruder response to Dr. Lucas’ comment and said nothing.

“I’ll be honest,” Dr. Lucas said, “I really don’t want to let you out. But I also don’t want to deal with your father anymore.”

“Understandable,” I said.

“In my 30 years working here, I have never let someone out in less than 48 hours,” he said.

I held my breath.

She worries, though, that even if she does, she’ll end up suicidally depressed again and back in a hospital.

“But I’m going to do it.”

I thanked him and promised to not kill myself. He told me he’d send a nurse to speak with me and get me released later that day.

Before I left, a social worker had to evaluate me and decide that I probably wasn’t suicidal anymore. I read “The Winds of War” at my desk and waited.

A woman who looked like she’d stepped out of a 2009 Delia’s catalogue — floppy flower hair clip and all — knocked on our doorway. She asked me about my time at the hospital, and I held my tongue, worried Dr. Lucas would renege on his promise to let me out if I wasn’t cooperative.

The social worker asked if I had anything to write with, so I could finish filling out the self-evaluation sheets privately. I said no, and she left me her pen.

We weren’t supposed to have pens. We weren’t even supposed to have sharpened pencils. But she’d left me a pen. 

The staff had also left my journal in my bag, with “The Winds of War” and my deodorant, and I sat down to fill in my future self about my time in the hospital. I wrote until my hand ached and another nurse appeared in the doorway.

I needed a physical before I could go home. She led me to yet another conference room, and asked if the cuts on my arms were old (yes). She checked my sight and hearing and, after consulting a clipboard full of my information, asked if I went to Miami in Ohio.

“I went there too,” she said. “What are you studying?”

“Journalism.”

The nurse’s face twisted into a disapproving scowl. “I hope they’re teaching y’all to be more truthful than the journalists I see on TV.”

“They are.”

We were silent for the rest of the check-up, until I asked whether I needed someone to check me out of the facility, even though I had a car there.

“Yes,” the nurse said. “You’ll need someone to sign you out.”

Back in 1500, I called my mom and asked her to come as soon as possible. I packed my belongings and left the contraband pen on my roommate’s desk, for her crossword puzzles.

“They let you keep your deodorant?” she asked. I nodded.

“They took mine because people have been smuggling fentanyl in the tubes,” she said.

Several chapters of “The Winds of War” and two Saltine packs later, a nurse appeared in my doorway and led me and two other patients to the lobby. My mom was waiting, doing a sudoku puzzle.

“I wasn’t sure how long it would take,” she said. She’d brought her laptop and Kindle, too.

I approached the reception desk.

“Hi,” I said, “My mom’s here to pick me up. Where should she sign me out?”

“Oh, you don’t need a signature.” The receptionist smiled. “Have a great day!”

***

Last fall, when I was trying to decide whether to stick it out in school and maybe end up killing myself, or go home and maybe check myself into a mental hospital, I told my friend Jack I felt like the protagonist of “The Bell Jar.”

We were sitting on his porch, and Jack was drinking a Four Loko, which he’d picked up at a gas station earlier. It was a Tuesday or Wednesday night.

“That’s a little dramatic, Kirby,” he said.

I asked him if he’d read the book.

“No,” Jack said. “But that’s still a little dramatic, don’t you think?”

Obviously, I thought. My worst fear, since I’d been clinically depressed, was that I was being “a little dramatic” — that since I had no logical reason to be so sad, it was my fault for not being able to snap out of it. 

If Jack, the most depressed of my friends, thought I was being dramatic, maybe I was.

I sped through “The Bell Jar” in high school, the day before I had to turn in a paper on it. I reread it when I got out of the hospital, and wished I’d done so sooner.

Rereading “The Bell Jar” confirmed that Jack was wrong. I was exactly like its protagonist. After a summer interning at a women’s magazine, Esther spends weeks entertaining suicidal fantasies, then tries to kill herself, then gets checked into a mental hospital.

The novel, which is not-so-subtly autobiographical, ends with a rehabilitated Esther hoping she’ll be allowed to leave the hospital and go back to school. She worries, though, that even if she does, she’ll end up suicidally depressed again and back in a hospital.

Sylvia Plath, famously, did wind up suicidally depressed again. She killed herself in 1963, the same year her mother published “The Bell Jar.”

I hope Esther got out of the hospital. I hope she went back to school, and graduated, and became a writer like she wanted to. I hope that if she decided she wanted to, she settled down with a guy who wouldn’t encroach on her independence or pressure her to have kids, and I hope she was happy.

I hope she never got that depressed again.