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Wellness > Mental Health

Inspirational Quotes from Women with Depression

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Susqu chapter.

One of the greatest lessons another woman ever taught me is that when you’re feeling down, look to other women as inspiration. For women’s history month I decided to explore and research historical women who struggled with mental illness. Realizing I had to narrow my focus for sanity’s sake, I looked for inspirational women who experienced depression. As someone who recently came to terms with their depression, I wanted to read stories about women who faced theirs heroically. Knowing that other women battle depression isn’t great but at least then I know that I’m not alone. It’s important for women to end the taboo on mental illness, especially since statistically women will be diagnosed with depression more often than men. My theory is that it’s because women are depressed about the patriarchy (not exclusively true, but you never know). It’s more important than ever for women to talk to each other since women in minority groups are less likely to receive the help they need. Let’s work together to not let depression win!

“Tomorrow I will curse the dawn, but there will be other, earlier nights, and the dawns will be no longer hell laid out in alarms and raw bells and sirens.” – Sylvia Plath

Plath isn’t famous for her positive writings, but that’s an unfair assumption. Plath’s writing is realistic and when it comes to mental illness, realism is important. I’m glad I read The Bell Jar; it’s one of the most accurate depictions of mental illness that I’ve encountered. I love this quote because it’s the truth: we won’t always feel depressed. Just because you live with depression doesn’t mean you’ll never experience happiness. On the outside, I laugh and smile all the time. It’s important to remember that for all the bad moments in life, there will also be good ones.

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“If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain.” – Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson’s poetry is equal parts hopeful and depressing. In this quote she’s speaking to all the hopeful aspects of life and that’s what we all need to do: find something hopeful. Whether it’s hanging out with friends, reading a favorite book, watching a funny show, or buying snacks, doing one positive thing to treat yourself is important. Self-care is trending for a reason!

“I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow; but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.” – Agatha Christie

Nowadays historians are attributing Christie’s famous disappearance to her depression. For a writer that made her career out of studying the motives, emotions, and eccentricities of humans, it’s not surprising that Christie had a few eccentricities of her own. Biographers are now attributing depression to Christie’s life, but since she was a very private person, we can’t know anything for sure. However, I love this quote by her since it speaks to how it’s impossible to live without experiencing sadness. I interpret it to mean that sometimes you’ll feel sad, but then happiness is right around the corner.

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“The experience of having to scrutinize and explain my situation again and again to others helped me to achieve more clarity of myself, until I came to realize that I don’t owe anyone an explanation.” – May Ayim

If you’ve never heard of May Ayim, don’t worry. This obscure German poet went by her pen name; her other name is May Opitz. She wrote about women’s issues, primarily in poetry and activist work. Ayim was famous outside of the United States and she’s just beginning to be discovered by American readers. I love her thoughtful and insightful observations about gender and depression. This quote speaks to society’s views on mental illness and why it’s important for women to love themselves no matter what. This quote is the perfect pick me up!

“Happiness is the most important thing in the world, without it, you live a life of depression.” – Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe is called a “sex symbol,” but she was more than just a person to gawk at. Monroe was a gifted actress who unfortunately experienced a tragic life. She was diagnosed with numerous health problems due to her overworked lifestyle. She always maintained a positive outlook on life, which I think is remarkable at a time when society ignored mental health issues. This quote is short and sweet and unfailingly true.

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“I will not be ‘famous’, ‘great’. I will go on adventuring, changing, opening my mind and my eyes, refusing to be stamped and stereotyped. The thing is to free one’s self: to let it find its dimensions, not be impeded.” – Virginia Woolf

When I think of a powerful, badass feminist writer, Woolf is at the top of my list. Woolf has never been afraid to write about the way things are, to speak her truth. I love that she mentions “stereotypes” in this quote. There were so many unflattering stereotypes of women with mental health problems; hysteria is one that comes to mind. Women in history have been called “too emotional,” which is offensive. Everybody gets emotional sometimes! In this beautiful quote, Woolf encourages us to enjoy life no matter what people think about us. The day I stopped caring what strangers thought of me is the day I truly became myself.

“Though we tremble before uncertain futures, may we meet illness, death and adversity with strength. May we dance in the face of our fears.” – Gloria Anzaldúa

Here is another underrated woman of history. Anzaldúa was a phenomenal scholar of feminist and queer theory. She spoke up for lesbians, women of color, and mental health awareness. She was truly a woman ahead of her time! Her writing is both lyrical in its loveliness and important for its politically charged messages. I love that this featured quote paints a picture of struggle but also how to deal with it. Whether you interpret this to mean literal or figurative dancing, I think we should all dance it out!

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I'm part time yoga teacher and a full time reader. I never miss an opportunity to listen to audiobooks on a car ride, or to read ebooks during breaks in my classes. I'm a senior at Susquehanna University where my major is creative writing with a minor in women and gender studies.
Writers are contributing from Susquehanna University