Why 13 Reasons Why isn’t an over dramatisation of teenage suicide.

I just finished watching 13 Reasons Why on Netflix and it did bring back a lot of repressed and lingering thoughts about me growing up, to the point I was sat bawling and laughing at myself on my sofa during episode 13  leaving my two friends baffled and in absolute stitches watching my mascara and eyeliner being smeared around my face. There is only one thing I will cry at, and that’s pixar or general 3d animated films, so this was a shock to my system because I could see myself in Hannah’s shoes. It really hit home on how people don’t take things seriously, dismiss claims, shrug off people’s cries for help and above all a joke or someone teasing can really effect someone to the point where they blame themselves. I am really open about my mental health and people are always taken aback when I am forward with it. What shocks me is that people are shocked when I talk about it, and thankfully this programme has made it show how hard it is to accept or deal with even mentioning the word “depression”.

After watching something, I always like to read peoples thoughts and opinions on things and look at any easter eggs I may have missed during the time my mascara blocked my retinas from being able to process what I was watching. I came across this  article written on newsstateman.com and I would just like to start this probably long winded post by saying shame on you. I presume you have never experienced what it is like to be in a situation where you feel so low you can’t even murmur the word help. I presume you have never seen blood bleed from your own flesh, because of someone elses insecurities. I presume you’ve never been in a fight or flight situation where you’ve blanked out and woke up with your own blood on the sheets to stop someone elses actions. I also presume you have never seen your friends being taken to hospital for using a razor on themselves so much all because their minds have overthought a situation. It has nothing to do with what social group I was around on why we would all feel low, or take things out on ourselves, or the fact that we may have all been a little more sensitive than others. The “It doesn’t happen” attitude is why people do not seek help. People are just disgusting. Bullying happens. Suicide happens. It is real.

I grew up in a kind of similar situation as Hannah and Alex. I was made to feel so low when I was 12 I would take it out on myself. Arguments at home, people in school taking little digs at my looks, weight, the way I spoke, how I wasn’t very social, and the most important one, how I had never kissed or even made contact with a boy my whole school life, but people would think I was a slut when I personally couldn’t think of anything worse than a kiss. No one wanted a olive skinned, glasses wearing, fat, braces wearing, back pack carrying, book reading annoying girl because she was worthless. They all said I was.  It was all my fault. It was because of me wanting to be loved that I had no friends. I surrounded myself with people who would tease me but kept myself close to them because I knew they would let me stay if they told me to put orange foundation on my skin, put too much hair gel in my hair, told me to say certain things, put gum in my hair, all at my expense. Of course, I found better friends from the age 16 onwards, because I could start to see people in school wouldn’t be there for much longer.

Going on to your point of the show not mentioning a single thing about depression. I agree, it doesn’t. But do you understand how hard it is to walk into a doctors surgery to be told you’re feeling so low about yourself you have depression. Do you understand how the sigma behind that is a ridiculous thing. To be handed a box of pills to be told it will all be okay is a heartbreaking moment. What breaks your heart more is someone close to you telling you depression isn’t a real thing and just to grow up. So you tend not to want to get help. Much like Hannah. She gave little indications of wanting help or hinting she was upset, because she didn’t know what to do or how to deal with it, or who to ask for help. It didn’t need a label. It took me 8 years of inner thoughts to feel that enough was enough. You don’t just wake up one day and think gee. My serotonin levels are really low better go to the doctors. It’s a slow and painful process. Why? Because society have made us believe that feeling sad is wrong.

Take the film Prozac Nation, brilliant film and book. It’s a honest reality of what happens when a lot goes on as life progresses once you have been diagnosed and just handed a box of pills like any other person who goes to the doctors gets. It’s a massive step to take to have the label looming over your head because we’ve all been made to feel depression is a bad thing and talking about our feelings is a bad thing, and taking a pill will make anything float away. 13 Reasons Why is like an updated version that’s brutally honest and doesn’t try to hide what happens because not everyone is able to take that step to get help.

Now don’t get me wrong, the rape and suicide scenes are really intense to the point I even squirmed. However, it is exactly what goes on. It doesn’t need to be sugarcoated or fade to black when Hannah gets in that bath. It needed to be shown exactly what happens for people who have said a nasty word somewhere along in life what happens to people who fall that low because of some other person actions. I’m sorry you felt that it didn’t need to be shown, but it did. Because it happens. Come on, the whole premise of the show is about how someone killed themselves so no one should really be shocked when it does actually get shown. There was even warnings at the start of the episodes!

Because of the show, in Brazil alone they have seen a spike in calls to suicide prevention lines by 100%. Honestly this is such good news that just from this show people are talking. It shows it isn’t over dramatised and people really do feel like that. The show is doing exactly what it was intended to do.

Another thing to mention is how the article states it is unforgivable that the show makes it seem bullying is a direct cause of suicide.I am going to be a little unprofessional here and just say; Sorry hun, but are you pissed? In some cases it can be the direct or the majority of why people feel so low. The amount of pressure I had to try and be perfect, to not like the music I liked, to want to be loved, was unreal in school.  I just got told to shrug it off, bottle it up and ignore it. Unfortunately there is only so much shrugging off and ignoring you can do until you explode. I genuinely feel sorry for this generation growing up because there is even more of a push for the skinny, perfect makeup look, that there isn’t a teenage phase anymore. Headmasters do nothing, teachers do not care, because bullying never ever happens in their schools. Until it gets extreme, of course where they have to pay attention because they don’t want their school to be associated with someone killing themselves to escape. She was loved by all but no one knew she hated roses, or the fact she was even upset with her life.

I always have a vivid memory of French class when I was around 13 years old. I was carrying a bit of weight but it was mostly chubb than fat. I was fed 3 meals a day and had a balanced diet, I just happened to not lose my fupa. The group of popular boys in my year were all sniggering behind me, and one just tapped me on the shoulder and said “Jade, do you know you are fat?” I literally just started sobbing in the middle of class. The teacher literally just looked at me and said “boys cut it out.” I wasn’t one to cry all the time, or cry wolf. I barely spoke about my feelings, so I took it out on myself. On my thighs and stomach infact because that’s what people told me was my biggest flaw. Stemmed from that, I was bulimic for 5 years with constant relapses, and I still have relapses for self harm. I suffer with panic attacks when my mind makes me over think, and I do get episodes where I just sit in my room and cry. My parents blamed me for making them look like they had bad parenting skills when I had to confess to them that my wounds and blisters weren’t from bedbugs or a reaction to washing powders rather than seeking help because they didn’t want to be associated with depression or having a daughter who had depression, and thanks to all of the lovely people at my school, I have insane trust issues. I constantly tell my boyfriend and told my ex partners that they don’t really love me and they will leave me because that is what my mind makes me think thanks to peoples kind and very thoughtful words from school. I push people away because I think that everyone is the same inside, because for 12-13 years I was made to feel no one wanted me. I want people to love me, but I can’t let that happen.

I can also remember being in year 4, so around 9 years old. There was a group of around 8 of us that got moved up a year for exceeding their potential and my school was overcrowded particularly my school year so we were chosen to jump up to year 5. I was called racist names for being a little darker in tone, pushed on the floor in the yard, and I still get reminded of it every day from the lovely scar on my knee, spat on, called fat, told I spoke funny. I was NINE years old. It wasn’t teasing. I can remember vividly, someone shouted something to me in class and I just remember sitting there in the front row, silently, just crying. My teacher literally stopped the class and asked me what was wrong and I stood up and pointed to everyone in my class and said You said this. You did this. It happened to be the moment my headmaster walked in and saw what was happening. The teachers were told countless times by my parents I was being beat up or I had something said about me. But you know, bullying never happens in schools. My parents were called into the school for an emergency and I was dropped down a year again because it was that bad. So I stayed quiet from that moment on because bullying doesn’t happen at my school. I was nine years old and depressed, but no one could see it. So that’s the reason depression isn’t mentioned. It didn’t need to be directly mentioned she was depressed because she was showing signs.

No one saw me hurt myself. I hid my feelings. When you take things out on yourself you don’t tend to walk around with a fanfare singing “Look at my scars look at what I’ve done”. The show shows what happens if you take that final step, and is important to see the pain and effect of what happens, what happens when her parents see her limp body, that your blood actually does come out of your veins when you do what you do. Why shouldn’t it be shown what actually happens when someones mind wins? It isn’t trivial and isn’t over dramatised because it actually does happen. I’ve been there, I’ve seen it, I’ve lived it. It happens. And I have to say I am sorry you can’t see it from the eyes of others who have been put through other peoples taunts and comments and constant battles with their minds.

I am mentally reminded every day that I am not perfect and I never will be from the constant taunts of yesteryear and I can physically see the pain I was in from it, every single day. I have to take medicine because of what they all did. It’s so hard to ask for help or even say “I think I’m depressed” because you just get told to cheer up. I had such a personal connection with this show because it is so true and real and is straight to the point. It shows the pressures of always striving to perfection and dealing with horrible people.

So I will end it on this. I would like to thank everyone involved and the writer of 13 Reasons Why. It’s a true cause and effect programme. It shows all the “what happens if”s, what suicide looks like and how it effects people, it shows people bullying happens in school, the pain of someone trying to get on with their life and being pushed down. It’s real, it happens, they aren’t lies because someone doesn’t want to admit they did wrong and I thank you all for making this show and getting people talking about it.

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