Charlotte Perkins Gilman
1860 - 1935
Novelist, Poet, Activist, Suffragist, World-Changer, Mother, Short-Story Writer, Playwright
My “friendship” with Charlotte Perkins Gilman is not unlike my friendship with Henry David Thoreau. I “met” both of them and had their names tucked into my consciousness, but I hadn’t taken the time to really get to know either of them.
I met Thoreau in high school. He is a kindred so I must have felt something, but I think the “assignment” nature of meeting him didn’t do much to inspire me. I met Charlotte Perkins Gilman a few years ago when I took a class “for fun” at the local community college. Well, this FUN class turned into a lasting passion I didn’t know I had. For our final, we read and wrote about The Yellow Wallpaper, one of her pivotal works.
I didn’t give her much thought again until more recently, when I started to study women and depression and suicide. How many women kill themselves who have words begging to be written that are buried along with them. The list of writers grew.
At first I thought Charlotte was among them as her death is listed as a suicide.
I researched more, though, and found she had horrifying depression and yet chose to live.
She chose to live.
It wasn’t until she was an older woman who had inoperable cancer that she chose to shorten her life.
She was tormented with depression when she was a young, married woman. She was given a “cure” that included no writing, no painting, just domesticity.
If you are a creative person as she and I are, you know what happens when our creative process is put behind bars: our minds are put behind bars as well.
Her tenacity and her passion changed the way women were treated for depression. Her words reached through more than one hundred years to fire me up. She is a big reason you are reading these words now because like her, I live with depression everyday.
I am forever grateful for the woman she was and through her words, who she continued to be.
Julie Jordan Scott has been a Life & Creativity Coach, Writer, Facilitator and Teleclass Leader since 1999. She is also an award winning Actor, Director, Artist and Mother Extraordinaire. She was twice the StoryTelling Slam champion in Bakersfield. She teaches a teleclass/ecourse "Discover the Power of Writing & Telling Engaging, Enlightening Stories" which begins again April 12, 2012. Find details by clicking this link.
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