Here’s to you, Zelda

“I am really only myself when I’m somebody else whom I have endowed with these wonderful qualities from my imagination.”

 

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-Zelda Fitzgerald

I seem to be quite infatuated by the Fitzgerald’s at the moment. And from reading one of my favourite novels, The Great Gatsby, it’s hard not to fall in love with the first flapper girl to grace the Jazz Age. I don’t want to state the obvious, but you can probably guess that Zelda Fitzgerald was the wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald; a marriage that really did have it’s highs and lows.

Now, you’re probably thinking; what relevance does Zelda Fitzgerald have to this blog?
Well, believe it or not, Zelda Fitzgerald spent many of her years in a psychiatric hospital, because of her schizophrenia. It is evident that her husband’s alcoholism was the main stimulus for her decline, as Fitzgerald often blamed Zelda for his problems and discouraged her when she had ambitions of becoming a writer.

In 1930, Zelda addmitted herself to a sanatorium just outside of Paris, where she was diagnosed, probably incorrectly, as schizophrenic. (Schizophrenia was a brand-new and much overused diagnosis.)
Okay, I won’t give you a chronological list of her life events- you can use Wikipedia for that, instead, I will address the topic and of mental health according to the 1930’s.

From the late 1930s a number of new treatments for severe mental illness were introduced. It was hoped that these would transform the lives of people with chronic illness. These included injecting patients with large amounts of insulin and prefrontal leucotomy (a form of surgery on the brain), but both produced serious side effects and were eventually discontinued. Convulsive therapy was initially introduced using a chemical to induce a seizure but electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) soon replaced it as more reliable and safer. While considered a beneficial treatment for some, it became increasingly controversial. Over time ECT was modified for greater safety, and was still occasionally used in the 2000s.

http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/mental-health-services/page-3

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-Zelda was admitted into her third hospital John Hopkins clinic in Baltimore

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-Highland Mental Hostpital, Asheville North Carolina. This is where Zelda died, due to a fire, 1948.

I find her so inspirational to the women of her era; she was bold, independent and creative, everything a twenty-first century woman is in this era. Unfortunately, such female empowerment could not be accepted, with little research in mental health at that time, Zelda’s condition merely contributed to the downfall of female stability and her symbolic role in the roaring twenties.

Haven’t we come far?

Look at all of the above and just think of how lucky mental health sufferers are to be part of today’s health care system.

Is there still room for improvement?
Of course, because of the stereotypes and an undignified history regarding mental health, talking about mental health is not an easy task. We need to get rid of the labels surround mental health sufferers and just talk about mental health as if it were a physical injury.

For some of my information I used the following link for evidence:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/roadshow/fts/elpaso_201102A12.html

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