In the brief 36 years of her life, Marilyn Monroe is often associated with a melancholic existence due to her untimely passing. While the media tends to portray her as a perpetually unhappy individual, concealing her true emotions behind a radiant exterior, it is essential to question whether this portrayal accurately represents her.
Although Marilyn Monroe once remarked to a Marie Claire reporter, Georges Belmont, in 1960 that she was “generally miserable,” it is crucial to examine the context and consider her lighthearted fits of laughter during the conversation. She acknowledged that her sociability varied from day to day, much like anyone else.
Considering Marilyn’s tumultuous life and the challenges she faced, such as her troubled upbringing and mental health issues like insomnia, anxiety, and depression, it is natural to assume that she experienced periods of sadness. Depressive episodes, compounded by medication addiction and sleep deprivation, undoubtedly had a significant impact on her overall mood.
Examining her notes and journals, one can find dejected and hurtful words reflecting her state of mind. However, it is important to note that most people’s personal diaries often contain feelings of anger, pain, and hurt rather than joy and happiness. Marilyn Monroe should not be held to a different standard in this regard.
From a young age, Marilyn was reported as someone in need of stability and reassurance. Her orphanage report stated that she appeared terrified unless approached with patience and reassurance, emphasizing her longing for encouragement, attention, and acceptance. Given her constant moving and lack of a stable family, coupled with the mental, physical, and sexual abuse she endured, it is understandable that she sought security throughout her life.
Even in her adult years, Marilyn struggled to find healthy and stable relationships that could provide the level of security she desired, resulting in bouts of anxiety.
It is worth noting that some individuals have posthumously speculated that Marilyn Monroe may have had a borderline personality disorder, but diagnosing the deceased is controversial. While claims have been made about a medical card at the Anna Freud Museum stating Marilyn’s diagnosis, it is important to consider the limitations of such posthumous diagnoses.
In a letter to her psychoanalyst Ralph Greenson in 1961, during her institutionalization against her will due to her declining mental state, Marilyn wrote, “I know I will never be happy, but I know I can be gay!” This statement, followed by the quote from the poet Milton, implies that happiness is not a constant state for anyone. Marilyn recognized that emotions are complex and that one cannot be perpetually happy or perpetually sad.
It is essential to consider that although Marilyn struggled with mental health issues, received therapy, and was prescribed medication, the field of medicine and psychology has evolved since her time. Some of the drugs she was prescribed are now banned, suggesting that modern treatment approaches may have alleviated some of her difficulties.
Furthermore, it is important to remember that we cannot fully grasp what someone is experiencing or comprehend their life behind closed doors. People often present a facade to the world, and being the most famous woman on Earth would undoubtedly amplify the pressures and stresses of life. The absence of a smile or makeup on a particular day does not necessarily indicate a bad mental health day. Photos only capture a limited glimpse of someone’s reality.
Speculation surrounds many aspects of Marilyn’s life. We cannot definitively determine when she lost interest in her marriage to Arthur Miller or if she intended to rekindle her romantic relationship with Joe DiMaggio. The true meaning behind her last note to Joe can only be understood by Marilyn or Joe themselves. It is crucial to avoid excessive speculation in these matters.
We cannot quantify the number of days Marilyn felt happy versus feeling down, nor can we determine her state of mind on her final day. There is much we do not know, and it is unfair to speculate.
Memory is a subjective and selective aspect of human experience. People who knew Marilyn may choose to remember her in a certain way, while certain memories may stand out more vividly due to the nature of her death.
Therefore, labelling Marilyn as solely a sad person is an oversimplification. Like anyone else, she had good days and bad days. Life is not a binary of happiness and sadness; it encompasses a wide range of emotions that cannot encapsulate an individual’s entire existence. Marilyn’s life consisted of numerous joyous events, some known to the public and others hidden behind closed doors. It is crucial to appreciate her sense of humour, her goofiness, and her fun-loving side—qualities that should not be overshadowed by the circumstances surrounding her death.