Thoughts on 13 Reasons Why

Welcome to your tape..

I feel really REALLY weird about the 13 Reasons Why hype, but first, let me give you a bit of background.

I have not watched the netflix series, but I have read the book. I read the book 6 years ago, and I was 16 years old. I was a pretty miserable teen, depressed, anxious, and lonely. I was also, pretty freaking obsessed with Selena Gomez. When I heard that Selena might be starring in a new movie adaptation of a book called 13 Reasons Why, I knew I had to buy it!

At first, I liked it. I liked it because I had never read a book with a character that had depression before, and for the first time, I felt understood. You have to keep in mind that society has changed for the better recently with mental illness; but when I was a teen, it was not talked about as much as it is today. So when I read this book, I understood Hannah Baker, and she understood me.

I loved that she was able to show all of the people that bullied, taunted, and harrassed her just how much they affected her. Why? Because I desperately wanted to do that to my bullies. I hated the fact that while I was self-harming, sleeping less than an hour a night, crying myself to sleep, and hating myself, my bullies were just merrily going about their lives, unaware of the pain they had caused. “What if I killed myself? Then they’d be fucking sorry” was something I would think about often. What if I killed myslef and wrote a note, mentioning them and how they hurt me and caused my suffering? They wouldn’t be able to live with themselves.

Now, as a depressed person, I thought this way of thinking was normal. They bullied me. They pushed me to rock bottom. They caused this. I have dealt with the pain they caused. Now they deserve everything I felt, and then some.

As a non-depressed person, though.. that way of thinking is really messed up. I didn’t really, truly want to kill myself. I didn’t want to kill myslef because life was too unbearable. A small part of me wanted to kill myself… to get revenge on people who I thought caused my depression…. how fucked up is that?! That’s what depression does to your brain, my friends. It completely warps your logic and reasoning.

Hannah Baker killed herself, because the events in her life so far became too much. She felt awful, and life didn’t seem like it would get better anytime soon. BUT, the fact that she took the time and effort to record tapes to send to the people who killed her, shows that she was, in part, doing it for some sort of sick revenge. That’s disgusting.

Now, don’t get me wrong, what I think 13 Reasons why did well is showing people that actions have consequences, words can cut like knives, and that you never know what kind of pain a person is going through in their lives behind closed doors. Maybe, bullies will watch this, and re-evaluate their actions. Maybe it will spark some compassion. Maybe it will make them think twice before calling someone a “slut”, or “ugly”.

However, this redeeming quality does not disguise the fact that this story is kind of messed up.

Listen, if any of you reading this is depressed, and you, like Hannah, desperately wish you could inflict pain on the people who inflicted pain on you; I understand, trust me, but please, let go of that resentment. You will not get over your depression by pre-occupying yourself with other people, and revenge.. you need to focus on you, and get help.

Another obvious critique is that it glamourises suicide and mental illness, which is true, it does. The image of people laying in bed with snacks, watching a series about teenage suicide, makes me feel funny. This is NOT just a story. It’s not just made-up. This happens. Teen suicide is REAL, teen depression is REAL. I think this show crosses the line of “raising awareness” to plain, flat out glamourising it. Making suicide seem poetic and dramatic is a form of romanticizing suicide and depression. People who kill themsleves just go ahead and do it, they don’t conjure up an elaborate way to poetically seeking sickening revenge on people beyond the grave. It makes me mad to think about it.

I have also heard that there is a scene where you actually see Hannah, in pain as she slowly dies. How disgusting!!I personally don’t think they had to show this, they could have implied it, they didn’t have to show it. Vulnerable people, depressed people, are drawn to things that make them more depressed, therefore you will have depressed, suicidal people watching this show.. I urge you to look up “suicide contagion” to see why this is an issue.

Most people who have been heaping praise on 13 Reasons Why for “raising awareness”, from  what I’ve seen, have never been depressed before. I have. After reading this book, I wanted to kill myself even more. I harmed myself more. I do not want that to happen to other young people. Back when I read it, it was a little known book. Now that it’s huge.. more vulnerable people are being exposed to it, and that worries me.

Have any of you, who have had depression in the past watched this show, or read the book? What are your thoughts on it?

 

 

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On life, empathy and the importance of listening.

So, a few weeks ago now, probably over a month ago, I went on a night out with my boyfriend and his friends. One of the guys had brought his friend along, let’s call him Alex. I ended up really hitting it off with Alex and we talked almost the whole night. He was so funny, so kind.. and just generally one of the nicest humans I’ve ever met. Yesterday, December 16th, my boyfriend told me that Alex had killed himself. Alex is dead. Alex was 21.

Now, I did not know Alex very well and had only ever spoken to him that night, and that night only. However, when I heard the news, I felt like my heart was sinking. I could not believe it. He seemed so happy when I met him, but we all know that people are experts at hiding how they feel. He had been a  part of my life for those 4/5 hours that we were out for, but I felt this pain in my chest that still hasn’t gone away.

It feels really unnerving that this guy that I had had so much fun with that night is now no longer here, he is gone. Just like that. He was here two months ago, now he’s not. Whenever I had gone out with the same bunch after the night I met Alex, I kept hoping he would join us again sometime, he was just so lovely. Now I know that he never will.

What must have been going on in his life for him to think that death was the only way out? What must his poor family be going through? How long had he been struggling for? Did anyone know?

All of these questions have been on my heart since I heard the news, and it just breaks my heart. I’m sure his parent had no idea that their poor boy was struggling. I bet his friends did not have a clue that Alex was depressed. It got me thinking about how we suppress our emotions so much, or how we do not talk about how we’re feeling if it’s not good feelings.

Well, guess what happens when we do not want to listen to “negative emotions”? People fucking kill themselves. People kill themselves because they feel so desperately sad, and they feel like everyone around them is just so happy all the time so what is the point of talking to them about something that they cannot relate to?

If you are reading this, and you are depressed, please know that most people in your life have felt sad before, and quite a lot of them have felt depressed, too. They just don’t fucking talk about it as they want to keep up this stupid facade that their life is sunshine and rainbows all the damn time!

Listen, I’m a generally happy person – I have a positive attitude and I know that whatever shit I’m going through will eventually subside. However, actually just two weeks ago I was super irritable and pretty much crying for most of the week. It’s called being human – sometimes humans feel overwhelmed, sometimes we feel sad, sometimes life just gets a bit too much.

I wish people would talk about their feelings more, and I wish that people would be more willing to listen to people talk about how they ACTUALLY feel. Who knows, maybe if Alex had spoken to hi friends, he would not have killed himself. I’m not saying his depression would be cured with just one conversation, but maybe he would not have killed himself. Maybe he would still be alive today. But he’s not.

I wish I could have told him that night, that I cared for him, and that I thought he was great. I wish I could have been there before he took those pills and given him a big hug, and tell him that he is so loved, has got so much potential, and that I’m here for him if he wants to talk.

Please whoever is reading this, listen to your friends. ASk them how they’re ACTUALLY doing. Tell them that you love them. Tell them just how awesome you think they are.

A little conversation could be the difference between life and death for some people.

 

 

To you, Alex: I wish you had not killed yourself. I wish you were still here. I wish you were excited about going home to your family for Christmas. I wish I got to talk to you again.

You will never be forgotten, and you are dearly missed. I had only spoken to you once, and I am so affected by your death.

I hope you rest in peace, you beautiful, lovely human.

I’m sorry.