Mental illness is something that is hard to capture without actually experiencing it. How can someone’s most difficult task of the day be getting up in the morning? What happens to a person that makes them go from being on top of the world to below the depths of the ocean? It is hard to comprehend why people with mental illnesses feel the way that they do, especially when you yourself haven’t dealt with that particular mental illness. It is even harder to imagine how they feel when there are so many inaccurate displays of it around us. TV shows, movies, books, and every other medium imaginable depict characters with mental illnesses in a completely unrealistic manner.
So when I finished the Netflix Original series “13 Reasons Why” I felt both connected and disappointed at the same time. There were times in the show when my emotions ran wild with relatability. But there were also times when I couldn’t help but think about how overplayed or underplayed different aspects were. However, I have seen many articles scrutinizing the series for its inaccuracies, when quite frankly this show is the closest to accuracy I have seen.
Sure the characters all blamed themselves for Hanna’s death despite the fact that suicide isn’t caused by others, but rather the individual's thoughts themselves. But isn’t it true that when one commits suicide their loved ones tend to blame themselves or think about what they could have done differently to create a different outcome? It is natural in that situation to think about the “what ifs”, so when Clay talked about Hannah committing suicide because he wasn’t ready to love her… wasn’t that just a natural reaction to the incident?
I think the way that the characters reacted to Hannah’s death is what would have happened in real life, therefore making it completely accurate. And while the way that Hannah acted leading up to her death wasn’t as dramatic as suicidal signs usually are, mental illness is everything but black and white. In a real life scenario that very well could have been the way that someone would act prior to committing suicide.
There was a time in my life where I couldn’t find the strength to continue the fight that is life, and as I watched Hannah distance herself from others I couldn’t help but think back to that time. As I watched her yearn for any lasting reason to live, I remember the search that I had once been on. And as I watched her view the world without any emotions whatsoever, the numbing sensation came back to me.
You see for some, “13 Reasons Why” might have been nothing but an insult to mental illness, but for me, I saw a lot of myself in Hannah. I am overjoyed that this series has hit the world in a full sprint because for the first time in a while others have gotten a sneak peek into the lifeless life of the mentally ill.