4 Things I Learned About Mental Health from 13 Reasons Why
I have just finished watching the second series of 13 Reasons Why. It is a controversial show as some say it glorifies mental illness and suicide. I, however, think it is a great show, it truly delves deep into the truth about mental illness and how our actions can impact peoples lives. It highlights the fact that many people were not aware of what she was going through.
Some viewers have said that Hannah Baker (the girl who made the tapes and committed suicide) was overreacting. I don't think this is correct at all. There is no right or wrong way to react to something. Especially when you are struggling with a mental illness, your feelings are valid. This show really opened my eyes and made me think more about mental illness. Here is what I learned.
This post may contain spoilers and will be more easily read and understood if you have fully watched the show and know the characters.
The People Talking About it Aren't The Only People Suffering
Throughout the first season of 13 Reasons Why it was obvious that the lead character Hannah Baker had been suffering because of the tapes she had left. And this was the main storyline. However, in the last episode of season 1, Alex tried to kill himself.
When you look back on the season you realize that he was troubled himself and deeply unhappy but because he was not talking about it and maybe because people were focusing on someone else no one realized.
We all know someone that is rather vocal about their story with mental illness and of course, there is nothing wrong with this but you have to remember there are others that struggle every day without anyone knowing about it.
You have to always make sure you are there for your loved ones, even if nothing looks wrong on the outside. As long as you put yourself in a position of trust for everyone you love, then if they are silently struggling they are more likely to come to you for help and guidance.
And if you are the person struggling don't feel pressured to get super vocal about it because other people are. If you feel safer keeping your journey closer to yourself then you do that.
You Need to Talk To Someone
Following on from the last point, you do really need to talk to someone. There are only 3 people in my life that know about my depression as I was always one who kept my struggles to myself but the people I told were people I trusted and people that could help bring me back up.
So even if you don't want to share it publicly, share it privately with those you trust.
I also spoke to a professional who showed me that there were things that could be done to help.
Because Hannah never really spoke to anyone about her issues - apart from the school counselor who ultimately failed her - she was not able to get the help she deserved.
And remember if one person isn't supportive or cannot help, it doesn't mean that no one will. Maybe the first person you tell won't get it. Yes, that sucks but don't use that as a sign that you will never be able to find support elsewhere. Keep talking and keep sharing until someone can help pull you up when you need it.
As soon as you open up to someone and share your feelings you are starting a conversation and a journey to a better outcome.
We Can Look For Something to Blame
In terms of depression, some can arise in certain circumstances such as the loss of a loved one, however, for others, there isn't always an 'obvious' cause.
I certainly went through this when I had depression. I was constantly thinking, "Why am I feeling like this?".
I would try and say, well it's because of my weight - it had to be because I would be happy if I wasn't so "fat" and "ugly".
I then attached it to my relationship. Looking back I was not depressed because of my relationship, I was depressed because I was sick. It had nothing to do with my physical situation.
I had the most supportive, kind and generous boyfriend, but because I was so convinced that my relationship was the reason I was feeling this way, I really pushed him away. Now luckily he understood that I was sick and again just stuck by me, and now we are closer and happier than ever. I am so grateful for him.
This is highlighted in Hannah's tapes on the show. Of course, her classmates had done her wrong - especially the despicable actions of Bryce Walker - and made her life incredibly difficult.
However as she almost certainly was struggling with a mental illness, these issues would have been magnified greatly. If she did not have this mental health issue then maybe the way these people treated her may not have had the same impact and she could have come to a less permanent solution to her troubles.
So try not to sabotage certain areas of your life if you are struggling. I know mental illness can warp things but try to realize that sometimes it isn't our physical situation that is causing our depression but in fact, it is coming from within.
Then we can try to heal ourselves instead of 'healing' our circumstances.
We All React Differently to Different Things
Like I mentioned before a lot of people have said that Hannah Baker in the show was overreacting or she was taking things too seriously. I know why people would think this because most people probably would deal with these situations in a completely different way than she did.
However, we all react differently to things. Some of us are more sensitive than others and we can all have different things that may trigger upset or anger within us.
Also, if you are suffering from a mental illness your feelings are often magnified.
So don't criticise how your loved ones are coping or even yourself. Everyone has the right to feel and react in their own way to each situation, there is no right or wrong way.
So be understanding and compassionate with people and don't try to belittle someone's feelings because you wouldn't personally react in the same way as them. Also, don't beat yourself up for getting upset easily over something if you are often doing so. Just allow yourself to feel your authentic emotions.
To finish this post off I just wanted to say that I know each and every person can suffer differently and I know it can be difficult. This post only highlights how I personally have made a connection with my depression journey and the show's depiction of it. I am sure there will be those that have had different journeys and may disagree with my views and that is fine.