Virginia Woolf Suicide Note

Virginia Woolf died 80 years ago on this day in 1941:

“Dearest, I feel certain that I am going mad again. I feel we can’t go through another of those terrible times. And I shan’t recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can’t concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don’t think two people could have been happier till this terrible disease came. I can’t fight any longer. I know that I am spoiling your life, that without me you could work. And you will I know. You see I can’t even write this properly. I can’t read. What I want to say is I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and incredibly good. I want to say that—everybody knows it. If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can’t go on spoiling your life any longer. I don’t think two people could have been happier than we have been. V.”

~ Virginia Woolf’s suicide letter to her husband

#VirginiaWoolf #FavoriteAuthors #MentalHealth

Mindfulness Movement in Mental Health

Mindfulness Movement

The principles of mindful movement are the same as any other mindfulness practice. We aim to bring our full attention to the present moment to experience the here and now. We bring our awareness to our movement and focus on our breath or the way our body feels as it moves. When our mind wanders, we bring our attention back to the practice, to our breath, to our body.

4 Types of Mindful Movement

1. Breathing exercises are different from when we observe our breath at rest during seated meditation. Instead, we connect with our body by purposefully elongating our breaths to calm our parasympathetic nervous system, or shorten our breaths for short periods of time to refresh and refocus.

2. A walking meditation can be a simple and effective way to explore mindful movement. The biggest difference between a walking meditation and going for a walk as we usually would is that when we’re practicing meditation, we aren’t aiming to go anywhere. Instead, we walk slowly and try to bring our full awareness to the act of walking. That can look like focusing on our breath, or feeling the ground beneath our feet as one step turns into the next. When our mind wanders, we bring it back to the sensations of the moment.

3. Stretching and yoga can help us release tension, stiffness, and heavy emotions. When our bodies don’t move, they don’t feel good, and neither do our minds. Taking a moment to let go of the day’s distractions, getting away from the desk or couch, and engaging in gentle movement can help us boost our energy, focus, and resilience.

4. If you’re looking to blow off steam, working out is another opportunity for mindfulness. Getting exercise can be a great way to tune in to our body, synchronize our breath, and be in the moment, all while building strength and nourishing our muscles.

Wanting to Die – by Anne Sexton

Since you ask, most days I cannot remember.

I walk in my clothing, unmarked by that voyage.

Then the almost unnameable lust returns.


Even then I have nothing against life.

I know well the grass blades you mention,

the furniture you have placed under the sun.


But suicides have a special language.

Like carpenters they want to know which tools.

They never ask why build.


Twice I have so simply declared myself,

have possessed the enemy, eaten the enemy,

have taken on his craft, his magic.


In this way, heavy and thoughtful,

warmer than oil or water,

I have rested, drooling at the mouth-hole.


I did not think of my body at needle point.

Even the cornea and the leftover urine were gone.

Suicides have already betrayed the body.


Still-born, they don’t always die,

but dazzled, they can’t forget a drug so sweet

that even children would look on and smile.


To thrust all that life under your tongue!–

that, all by itself, becomes a passion.

Death’s a sad Bone; bruised, you’d say,


and yet she waits for me, year after year,

to so delicately undo an old wound,

to empty my breath from its bad prison.


Balanced there, suicides sometimes meet,

raging at the fruit, a pumped-up moon,

leaving the bread they mistook for a kiss,


leaving the page of the book carelessly open,

something unsaid, the phone off the hook

and the love, whatever it was, an infection.

Validation in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

This is the main dialectic in DBT: balancing pushing clients to make changes in life while at the same time accepting the way they are and the life they’re leading, as well as encouraging them to accept themselves. If the therapist pushes too hard for change and doesn’t focus enough on acceptance, the client will feel invalidated and will be unable to work effectively in therapy. But too much acceptance and not enough push for change will create a sense of hopelessness, which will also result in an inability to work effectively in therapy.

Linehan (1997) outlines six different levels of validation:

Listening and observing: The therapist actively tries to understand what the client is saying, feeling, and doing, demonstrating genuine interest in her and actively working to get to know her. This entails paying close attention to both verbal and nonverbal communication and remaining fully present.

Accurate reflection: The therapist accurately and nonjudgmentally reflects back the feelings, thoughts, behaviors, and so on expressed by the client. At this level, the therapist is sufficiently in tune with the client to identify her perspective accurately.

Articulating the unverbalized: The therapist communicates to the client that she understands the client’s experiences and responses that haven’t been stated directly. In other words, the therapist interprets the client’s behavior to determine what the client feels or thinks based on her knowledge of events. The therapist picks up on emotions and thoughts the client hasn’t expressed through observation and speculation based on her knowledge of the client. This type of validation can be very powerful because, while clients often observe themselves accurately, they can also invalidate themselves and discount their own perceptions because of the mistrust fostered in them by their environment.

Validating in terms of sufficient (but not necessarily valid) causes: The therapist validates client behavior in relation to its causes, communicating to the client that her feelings, thoughts, and behaviors make sense in the context of her current and past life experience and her physiology (e.g., biological illness). This level of validation goes against the belief of many clients that they should be different in some way (for example, “I should be able to manage my emotions better”)”

Validating as reasonable in the moment: The therapist communicates that the client’s behavior is understandable and effective given the current situation, typical biological functioning, and life goals. It’s important for the therapist to find something in the response that’s valid, even if it’s only a small part of the response (for example, letting a client know that it’s understandable she would resort to cutting herself because it provides temporary relief, even though it doesn’t help her reach her long-term goals).

Treating the person as valid—radical genuineness: The therapist sees the client as she is, acknowledging her difficulties and challenges, as well as her strengths and inherent wisdom. The therapist responds to her as an equal, deserving of respect, rather than seeing her as just a client or patient, or, worse, as a disorder. Linehan (1997) points out that level 6 validation involves acting in ways that assume the individual is capable, but that this must come from the therapist’s genuine self, and that at this level, almost any response by the therapist can be validating: “The key is in what message the therapist’s behavior communicates and how accurate the message is”

Sources: DBT Made Simple

Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out.

Timothy Leary was an American psychologist who became an iconic figure of the 1960s counterculture, coining possibly the most widely used catchphrase linked with that era: “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out.”

However, the order in which Leary wished us to do these three things is slightly different. He felt that society was polluted by politics, and made up of sterile, generic communities that do not allow the depth of meaning needed by true individuals. The first thing he thought we should do is “Drop Out,” by which he meant that we should detach ourselves from artificial attachments and become self-reliant in thought and deed. Unfortunately, “Drop Out” has been misinterpreted as urging people to halt productivity, which was never his intention.

Next, Leary tells us to “Turn On,” or delve into our unconscious, and “find a sacrament which returns you to the temple of God, your own body.” This is a command to explore deeper layers of reality, as well as the many levels of experience and consciousness. Drugs were one way to do this, and Leary, a Harvard professor, began experimenting with the hallucinogenic drug LSD.

To “Tune In,” Leary asks us to return to society with a new vision, seeking fresh patterns of behavior that reflect our transformation, and to teach others our newfound ways.”

Ezra Pound

Today in 1949 – Ezra Pound is awarded the first Bollingen Prize in poetry by the Bollingen Foundation and Yale University.

At the time Pound, an American, was locked in St. Elizabeths mental hospital in Washington, D.C., where he stayed for 12 years. He had been charged with treason but was never tried. His fellow artists helped secure his release in 1958, and he went to Italy, where he died in 1972. Here’s his mug shot when he was arrested.

Tulips – Sylvia Plath

One of my favorite poems by those who died too young:

Sylvia Plath died in London, England, on this day in 1963 (Suicide, aged 30)

Tulips – Sylvia Plath (18 March 1961)

The tulips are too excitable, it is winter here.

“Look how white everything is, how quiet, how snowed-in.

I am learning peacefulness, lying by myself quietly

As the light lies on these white walls, this bed, these hands.

I am nobody; I have nothing to do with explosions.

I have given my name and my day-clothes up to the nurses

And my history to the anesthetist and my body to surgeons.


They have propped my head between the pillow and the sheet-cuff

Like an eye between two white lids that will not shut.

Stupid pupil, it has to take everything in.

The nurses pass and pass, they are no trouble,

They pass the way gulls pass inland in their white caps,

Doing things with their hands, one just the same as another,

So it is impossible to tell how many there are.


My body is a pebble to them, they tend it as water

Tends to the pebbles it must run over, smoothing them gently.

They bring me numbness in their bright needles, they bring me sleep.

Now I have lost myself I am sick of baggage———

My patent leather overnight case like a black pillbox,

“My husband and child smiling out of the family photo;

Their smiles catch onto my skin, little smiling hooks.


I have let things slip, a thirty-year-old cargo boat

Stubbornly hanging on to my name and address.

They have swabbed me clear of my loving associations.

Scared and bare on the green plastic-pillowed trolley

I watched my teaset, my bureaus of linen, my books

Sink out of sight, and the water went over my head.

I am a nun now, I have never been so pure.


I didn’t want any flowers, I only wanted

To lie with my hands turned up and be utterly empty.

How free it is, you have no idea how free———

The peacefulness is so big it dazes you,

And it asks nothing, a name tag, a few trinkets.

It is what the dead close on, finally; I imagine them

Shutting their mouths on it, like a Communion tablet.


The tulips are too red in the first place, they hurt me.

Even through the gift paper I could hear them breathe

Lightly, through their white swaddlings, like an awful baby.

Their redness talks to my wound, it corresponds.

They are subtle: they seem to float, though they weigh me down,

Upsetting me with their sudden tongues and their color,

A dozen red lead sinkers round my neck.


Nobody watched me before, now I am watched.

The tulips turn to me, and the window behind me

Where once a day the light slowly widens and slowly thins,

And I see myself, flat, ridiculous, a cut-paper shadow

Between the eye of the sun and the eyes of the tulips,

And I have no face, I have wanted to efface myself.

The vivid tulips eat my oxygen.


Before they came the air was calm enough,

Coming and going, breath by breath, without any fuss.

Then the tulips filled it up like a loud noise.

Now the air snags and eddies round them the way a river

Snags and eddies round a sunken rust-red engine.

They concentrate my attention, that was happy

Playing and resting without committing itself.


The walls, also, seem to be warming themselves.

The tulips should be behind bars like dangerous animals;

They are opening like the mouth of some great African cat,

And I am aware of my heart: it opens and closes

Its bowl of red blooms out of sheer love of me.

The water I taste is warm and salt, like the sea,

And comes from a country far away as health.