When we were reading Mrs. Dalloway, I felt a strong connection to Septimus as well as resentment towards his doctors. W.H.R. River’s article on mistreatments of patients with shell shock made me further understand the mindset of mental doctors during Woolf’s time period. If Dr. Bradshaw and Dr. Holmes had told Septimus to accept and confront his traumatic memories of the war, suicide may have been avoided.
I connected deeply with Septimus on a personal level because I have family members who struggle with chronic depression. I remember times when friends have joked about being “depressed” and I would react very defensively. Chronic depression interferes with day to day life, and sadly enough, there are still people who do not see depression as a serious illness. Some would still falsely argue that it’s because the person is “too emotional” or “weak.”
It was upsetting to imagine Septimus dealing with traumatic war experiences on his own terms, without the understanding of his wife and doctors. He was simply blamed and labeled as selfish and unmanly. In my own personal experiences, even with the help of close friends and family members, it’s a constant struggle to move past the experiences that caused their current mental states. It was clear that talking and letting emotions help, and luckily my relatives had a good psychiatrist that did the right thing and simply listened. Though I was not diagnosed with depression, I also had to deal with living in an abusive household two years ago. I learned for myself that even without having a mental illness, ignoring feelings of pain or suffering only deepens the wound. When I first talked about my experiences with a friend, it actually lifted a lot of weight over my shoulders.