I Need To Talk About 13 Reasons Why

As soon as I finished episode one, I knew I was going to have to write about 13 Reasons Why.

Actually, as soon as I heard about the show, I knew I was going to have to write about it.

Have to?” – You might be asking.

“No, Kellie, you don’t have to. No one is forcing you to write against your will here.”

But you’re wrong.

I’m forcing me. My head, is forcing me.

And it has been for weeks.

One of my co-workers asked me last week if I had seen the show, and I responded that I had. She then asked me what I thought about it, and for the first time in a long time, I admitted, “I honestly don’t know.”

And that was, and still is, the truth.

I don’t know what to think or how to feel about the show.

All I know is that I watched each episode and I felt nothing.

Everyone’s asking me, “Did you cry?”.

They’re texting and telling me how the show changed their life, and that it’s sooooo good, and so moving, and so shocking, and so eye-opening.

But it wasn’t, for me.

So what’s wrong Kell?

How is everyone getting so shaken up and excited about this show about suicide, and of all people, you’re not?

Maybe it’s because, I’m not shocked.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been so close to the subject for so long that it just doesn’t phase me anymore.

But even more so, I think its because I’m hurt – that something so real, and something so dark, something that I’ve personally dealt with, has quickly become the casual subject matter of the: “hot new show of 2017”.

I’ve been completely conflicted.

The first time I really heard about the show was from a group of young girls, all under the age of 14. These are smart, incredible, young women, and yet they were talking about suicide as if it were just some plot of a Hollywood show – because to them, it was.

But to me, it wasn’t.

I stood in the room as they discussed their favourite characters and a nervous heat shot up my spine as they talked more and more about the premise, and the love triangles, who was hot, and how “If Clay had just told Hannah he loved her, everything would be fine”.

I couldn’t breathe.

Love doesn’t keep someone alive.

I wanted to sit them all down and explain that they didn’t know what they were talking about, and to have a real and genuine discussion about the realities of suicide and how devastating, and life-sucking, and destructive depression can be.

But I couldn’t.

They were too young to hear it.

They wouldn’t understand.

And that’s why they should have never had access to the show at all.

I’m hurt. I’m upset. And yet still numb about it all.

I talk and write about depression and anxiety all the time. I share links and #SickNotWeak tweets on Twitter.

But I don’t spoon feed my story to young people who are not able to process the heaviness of its truth. I don’t commercialize my pain to gain instagram followers and to sell subscriptions or t-shirts.

The problem with 13 Reasons Why is not that it talks about suicide. The problem is that it makes suicide popular, mainstream, and trendy – so much so that suicide is now casual enough to gossip about at recess.

And this is where I feel lost.

I always encourage people to talk about their feelings, to end stigma, and open up the conversation, and yet I don’t want my little sister to watch the show.

13 Reasons Why sucked me in the same way it is sucking other young people in – with a high budget, intriguing story line, attractive cast, a bit of romance, sex, some social media buzz, and as the cherry on top – a pop star producer.

But where’s the trigger warning? Where are the parental controls? @Netflix.

I spent the week I watched, as well as the week after finishing, feeling unsettled, confused, and above all – anxious – all day and all night long.

I barely slept.

I thought about it constantly.

The show brought up terrible feelings and memories for me. It made me over analyze the things I’ve done, and the things that have happened to me – worries and stresses I spent years in therapy trying to look past.

So yeah, I have to write about it.

Because I still feel sick about it, and I though my stance and argument aren’t clear (even to me), I needed to get some of this out.

All I do know is:

1. That I felt much stronger and much more hopeful before watching it.
2. I hope that those who have been triggered by the show reach out and know they’re not alone.

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