I’ve held back on some thoughts regarding "13 Reasons Why" because I felt like everyone else was talking about it. But some of the reactions I have seen this week have been unsettling. It has taken me a very long time to reach this point in my battle with mental illness. If you haven’t been exposed to what it’s like to live with a mental illness, I hope that you can see where those us who face these battles each and every day are coming from. Your friends and peers may be saying that you “absolutely need to watch 13 Reasons Why," but I hope you will reconsider.
I would like to start by saying I appreciate the fact that "13 Reasons Why" has started a conversation about mental health. However, it does not consider those of us who are already a part of the conversation. There is no doubt that as a society, we as a whole are uneducated when it comes to mental health. Stigma is both a cause and effect of the poor representation of mental health in media. As a result of this poor representation, those who are not as educated may now hold many misconceptions about mental health. The show does not paint the best picture of mental health professionals, and displays seeking help as being not useful. It is critically important that those who are struggling feel comfortable to reach out and ask for help. Through this portrayal, people may be apprehensive about seeking help, and that is a problem. I can say from personal experience that there are many mental health professionals out there who are capable of guiding you through recovery.
I wish that the people who created the show had taken more care and thought deeper about the way in which they told Hannah’s story. I’m grateful that they now have included trigger warnings on Netflix. However, I believe that the conversation could have been started without including scenes that are extremely triggering for some individuals. I am all for raw emotion and being real, but the graphic scenes depicting sexual assault, abuse, and suicide in my opinion, are more harmful than they are helpful. Another large issue is the overall premise of the show. Hannah makes the tapes to explain to everyone how they contributed to what ultimately resulted in her completed suicide attempt. Nobody is responsible for our own mental health. I understand that people can be mean and cruel. It is so important to think about the effect that our actions have on other people. But at the end of the day, we are responsible for our mental health.
It saddens me beyond belief to know that Hannah was unable to see just how special she was. I wish she could have known that there is help out there, that she was worthy and deserving of love. I wish she had friends who supported her. I wish she could have held onto hope. My hope is for everyone to know that they are worthy and deserving of love. I suggest that if you're reading this, have watched "13 Reasons Why," or know someone who struggles with depression, educate yourself. Suicide is preventable, and things really do get better. In addition, remind yourself to be open minded and support those around you, as we are all facing battles that most don't know about. Remember that you are loved, even on your darkest, loneliest days, by so many, and that if you feel lost and hopeless, help is out there and recovery is possible.