*DISCLAIMER - SPOILERS AND SENSITIVE TOPIC*
Thirteen Reasons Why.
I had heard of the book, but I had never gotten a chance to read it. When it was popular during the time it was published in 2007, I was just about thirteen years old and I don't think I would have been able to fully understand the detrimental, devastating reality that author Jay Asher portrays through the eyes of fictional character Hannah Baker. However, with it's TV series release on March 31, 2017 on Netflix, I couldn't help but be curious. Of course, I had heard different types of feedback, opinions, and a few spoilers from the show from those who had started it or finished it before me. Though all were various in their own ways, it came down to one similarity: how terrifyingly realistic it was.
I had seen many movies and TV shows involving depression, bullying, suicide and over all psychological pain before, but I can safely say that Thirteen Reasons Why made me feel a different kind of sad. It affected me in a way that is almost indescribable. For most shows that involve those controversial and heavy topics, I can process it pretty quickly and in the most appropriate way possible and move on, but with Thirteen Reasons Why, I couldn't seem to shake that lingering sting of overwhelming sadness.
There are of course, thirteen episodes in the first season. They follow the world of Hannah Baker, a down to earth, bright and intelligent teenage girl like anybody else. Eventually, with unfortunate and wildly cruel incidences and actions involving her peers and the people around her, Hannah becomes sucked into a dark hole of hopelessness involving ongoing bullying, sexual harassment, rumors, lies, and betrayal. The show does a phenomenal job of showing the debilitating and traumatizing affects of bullying, and ultimately what it's like to deal with depression and loneliness. As I mentioned before, Thirteen Reasons Why made me feel this different kind of sadness, and I think that was the goal - which sets the show apart from everything else. The reality of harassment and suicide is so accurate in this series that it's almost too hard to watch at some points. There were times where I would sit there watching and think to myself "this just can't get any worse" - when it just kept on escalating. And though it's just a fictional book/show, it goes back to realizing that these things happen every day . . . and that just hurts and astounds me.
What really got to me was the strength slowly fade away in Hannah, and how you could literally see the energy in her slowly disappear in each episode.
The last episode was what everyone was talking about - which wasn't surprising. That was the most graphic, painful, and intense moments in TV history that I had personally experienced, and it hit me hard. Her moment of suicide continuously broke my heart into two, and I eventually wasn't able to finish the scene, and so I closed my laptop to take a breath and to pull myself together in between sobs. I think what truly got me about that scene was the rawness of it, and the insane authenticity that it embodies. In most portrayals of suicide, there is some kind of music playing in the background, or yelling. In Thirteen Reasons Why, it was quiet. All you could hear was Hannah in pain, and the water running. I just sat there watching what I could, and for a moment, forgetting that it was a TV show and only wanting to pull Hannah out of the bathtub and tell her that it was going to be okay and that she wasn't alone. And I feel like a lot of people watching had those same thoughts running through their minds. That's how lifelike it was.
When I finished that episode, I had to sit there and just think a little bit, collect my thoughts, and try to process what I had just watched. I knew that it wasn't something that I could just accept and move on. I had to take some time to gather myself, because I know what it's like to feel so hopeless and depressed, so anxious and tired, and worn out from feeling debilitated 24/7.
Though I never experienced anything as detrimental as Hannah Baker did in Thirteen Reasons Why, there were still a lot of things that I could relate to, so many things that hit home. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety when I was in elementary school, and later on with obsessive compulsive disorder my first year of college. Right on the edge of when I was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder, and I mean right before I was admitted into a young adult psychiatric hospital, I fell into a deep depression that I wouldn't wish upon anyone. It was my worst depressive episode yet. I didn't want to eat, I lost weight, I slept all the time, I cried all the time, I felt like there was no point to living, I felt worthless, and the worst part was - I didn't know why, and I felt like I had this hole inside of me that could never been filled, or that I could ever be happy again. I woke up each day, just wondering "Why? What's the point?" When I watched the last couple of episodes, I could literally feel that hopelessness that Hannah was feeling - so it really hit me. And I think that's part of why it hurt a lot, to see another human being going through this - because this does happen in real life.
I guess what I'm trying to say is, please don't push away those who seem to be going through something. You never truly know what's going on in their heads or what they're feeling. The most we can do is to try and talk to them and remind them of how important they are and to be patient. Please, be patient with them. They are hurting, and they need to know that there is a world out there, and that there is more to life than feeling lost, pushed aside, alone, harassed. And I know this all sounds cliche, but it's the truth. The most important thing is to also let them know that they deserve to be happy, and that they are worthy of happiness.
Through all the good and bad reviews that Thirteen Reasons Why received from the public, I walked away from the show with an even more empathetic and understanding mind, and heart. It helped solidify my awareness of the severity that this kind of sadness can cause. So please don't forget: there's a whole world going on in someone's head that you may not know about until you ask, until you show them that you're there for them.