Last week I watched (binged) a new show on Netflix called 13 Reasons Why based off the book (with the same title) by Jay Asher. The story starts a couple of weeks after Hannah, a seventeen-year-old girl, has committed suicide. She’s left thirteen tapes for thirteen different people explaining why and how she came to the decision to end her life. This is Hannah’s story, but it’s also the story of Clay, the boy who loved her but didn’t know how to show it, it’s the story of vicious bullies, and adults out of their depth. It’s a shining light on aspects of life that happen every day. It’s also a story about depression and mental health. The show takes an honest and graphic look at teen suicide and its aftermath, and it’ll knock the breath right out of you.
It’ll also get you thinking. About how for so long you yourself swept your feelings under the rug. Excused them for adolescent angst and misunderstanding. Bad breakups. Broken hearts. And when they waxed and waned throughout your early twenties, you chalked it up to stressful college courses and lack of sleep. You think about the boyfriend who you told you weren’t ready, but he wore you down and convinced you otherwise. You think “how could you be so weak to give your body so freely?” You remember how you equated sex to love. You remember the darkness. You remember stretches of time when the feelings left you alone, and days got better. But when those feelings came back and persisted into adulthood, you saw doctors. A family doctor, a psychiatrist, a counselor, another family doctor. But still when they said that “D” word, you shuddered and ignored the facts. That’s not you.
How could it be you? You have a loving family, great friends, a man who is your biggest supporter. What could you possibly have to be depressed about? You’re ashamed. You’re embarrassed. You have some people close to you who don’t understand. They believe it’s a choice. Like choosing to wear shorts or a dress. You can choose to be happy or sad. But if that’s true, why would anyone ever choose sadness? You get frustrated. You feel lost. You feel empty. You’re confused because some days, most days, aren’t bad. You smile, you laugh, you interact. But it’s the days you can barely get out of bed that stand out. That haunt you. They make you feel weak. Snap out of it, you tell yourself.
So, what do you do? You decide to talk about it. You tell your story, and the words bounce onto the paper. You’re nervous, but it feels good, better, to get it out. You hope it helps someone else. Because as embarrassing as it is to admit imperfection, to admit brokenness, it is also somewhat freeing.
In a world where we are talking about everything, why do we so freely toss mental health to the wayside? Why must we be ashamed of our feelings? Maybe if we weren’t, maybe if we all loved each other a little harder, people would never see suicide as an option. Because it should never, ever be one.
I’m always here if anyone wants to talk. Believe me, I get it.
Until next time,