Cannonball.

I’m holding myself accountable to keep writing. Especially when my last post was about how I want to write my way out of this slump I’ve been in and then I go a week without writing at all. So we’re off to a great start.

I lifted today for the first time in awhile!! I made it to the gym on Monday morning and I was so exhausted and still somewhat depressed that I just did some cardio, but hey, it’s better than nothing. Today I was just feeling it. The temperature finally dropped a bit, and this morning it was 75 so my dog and I went for a two mile power walk. It was great. We almost kept going for another mile but people were beginning to take advantage of the cooler weather and do yard work, and the fresh cut grass smell was really hitting me hard. I cleaned up the kitchen, did some dishes, ate lunch, lounged around for a bit, and then finally got restless enough to go hit the gym.

I am weak AF. Again. But it’s okay! I’ll get it back. It’s not like it’s permanently gone. My body is naturally really athletic so the nice thing is that if I’m just consistent then I can build strength pretty quickly. Plus it just feels so goooood.

I ended with abs and I literally just laid on my mat for a good two minutes before I got up, and the biggest smile was on my face. I love working out. I love lifting.

I’ve been at a crossroads lately at work. Another new opportunity presented itself to me.

I haven’t even been with this company for a year yet. I’m almost there, I started on August 1st.

On March 5th, I moved into my current role that’s a pretty boring desk job that I’m already kind of over.

And recently I was offered yet another move within the company.

It scared me. When I’m mentally in a good place, I love constant change. It’s thrilling to me. I lean into it and just see where it takes me. That’s how I wound up in Saint Louis. Something was calling me to this city and instead of questioning it, I just went for it.

But I haven’t been in the best mental space lately. So this new opportunity, this new change, scared the shit out of me. I’m terrified of disappointing people. This is something I’ve never done before, what if I’m not good at it?

I turned it down at first, and about a week later I realized that was a mistake. Lucky for me, the offer was made by a woman who fully understands that sometimes you just need a little more time to think.

I’m going for it. Once again, this newness is calling to me. There’s something in this decision that I honestly feel like I am supposed to do. Plus there’s a slight pay bump, which is always nice.

I think deep down, we always know what is right for us and what isn’t. The trick is just not letting other people or our own fears and insecurities get in the way of that.

On top of all of this, I’ve spent the majority of my previous weekends doing nothing. I got an offer to go out tonight with some friends, and I’m going. It’ll be fun. I need some fun in my life.

Lean into the new. Forget wading into the pool from the steps, just do a motherfucking cannonball in the deep end.

Day One.

So. I’ve mentioned that this year has not been the best for me. I’ve been slowly coming out of a several month long depressive episode and I’m rather overwhelmed by the amount of damage control that I now have in front of me. So I’m going to try and make it fun.

Consider this my own personal Find Your Happy Challenge. I’ll be documenting how it’s going, things I’m doing, etc. in a series of posts. I haven’t decided how often I’m going to hold myself accountable to write, but I want to put out at least a couple of posts a week. This isn’t a self-help series. I’m not going to be telling you how to get your shit back together if it recently all went to hell, I’m just going to be talking about things that I’m personally doing to get my personal shit together, and if something I share strikes a chord with you, then fantastic.

I’ve been drinking WAY too much. And I don’t mean partying, I mean drinking at home by myself. Over the past four weeks, I’ve spent about five days per week drinking. That’s way too much. For my own personal self-challenge, I’m not going to drink alone. Maybe for the rest of the summer, I’m not sure. Social drinks are fine, but no more getting drunk on my couch by myself. And yes, drinking with my dog is still drinking alone, I’m not using that loophole.

I’m going to push myself to go to the gym regularly, take care of my skin, and even cook more, so you guys may get some recipes/cooking epic fails out of this as well.

For today, I’m off to Schnucks to buy groceries for the week, and then I’ll probably clean the house a bit and head to the gym this evening. My body is the thing I’m most disappointed in. I worked my ass off in 2017 to drop about 40 pounds and I was in incredible shape at the end of last summer. While I’ve only gained a little, I’ve lost a lot of muscle mass and my body looks very different. I miss lifting heavy, and I’m going to get that back this summer for sure.

For now, I’ll end this with the song that I’ll have on repeat all day, Birthday by All Time Low.

Reflecting.

I think I’m going to start a new series where I drink wine on a Monday and ramble about whatever the hell has been on my mind.

Which, lately, has been a lot.

I’ve been debating bringing the podcast back but I feel like I have so much to say right now that I don’t exactly know how to script each episode to stay on topic without fully writing it out. And fully writing it out makes it a blog post.

Literally everything from here on out started as basic podcast notes that I started writing down while at work and it just expanded to the point where I basically had an entire blog post written in the notes app on my iPhone.  A lot of this I have touched on before, but I feel like the more time that goes by, the better I am at explaining things that happened to me in the past.

I’m in a very good place at the moment, and have been for about a year now. There are brief periods of time where I experience mild depressive states, but it’s nothing like it used to be, and it’s typically after totally exhausting myself by staying out too late or just generally not getting enough sleep. So it’s fairly controllable. Winter is hard to deal with, but thankfully that’s about over. The longer I stay happy and content, the more I start to think that I actually managed to put myself back together and grow into a functioning adult.

And the question that lingers at the back of my mind is, how the hell did I pull that off?

Which is a terrifying question for me, because really thinking about it and analyzing how I got to this point requires me to question a lot of the things I was taught.

I don’t view my medication as ever having helped me much. If anything, they mellowed me to a point where I wasn’t suicidal, which has some value, but they didn’t cure me. They were a crutch that kept me alive until I could get better.

I was in a small town where my resources for help were very limited, and I also wasn’t in a place where I actually wanted help for quite a while. You can’t help someone who doesn’t want to get better.

Why would you not want to get better?

 Well, you’re in denial that anything is even wrong with you in the first place.  Admitting that you have a mental illness and actually need help feels a lot like admitting that your brain is defective and you suck as a human. It’s hard to understand if you’re standing on the outside but it’s very hard to get to the point where you’re like,

“Okay, this isn’t going to be my life anymore, I need to get better,”

And for me, it required me to slam my face into rock bottom a couple of times before I got the message.

I read in school that low self-esteem can contribute a lot to certain mental illnesses, mine included. (I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder in 2012). It’s not that it’s necessarily a CAUSE, but that low self-esteem can put you at risk for developing disorders, which makes sense to me.

I struggled with low self-esteem for that majority of my life. Like, twenty-five years, and I’m twenty-six.

I’m still not the person that walks around thinking their shit don’t stank. I notice how far I’ve come with my self-esteem the most with my body image.

I noticed it today at work.

I watched these girls in the break room with their diet shakes or their protein bars and that’s literally all they’re eating for lunch, and I remember being that girl. I remember obsessing about what I ate or what I was seen eating. If I was with a group of people and they all decided to go eat somewhere, I would usually make up some excuse or reason as to why I couldn’t join them. I knew I’d be tempted to eat too much, and I didn’t want to deal with it. So I’d go back to my apartment and chug water and eat an appropriate meal, usually with less than 500 calories.

God, I never thought I would actually admit my thought process for that.

I’m so obsessed with food now, but in a good way. I’m learning to actually cook and that moment when you sit down to a meal you made yourself and take a bite and it’s like a party in your mouth is just the best. I used to worry that allowing myself to love food would cause me to gain weight but that hasn’t been the case. My biggest weight gain came from a period of being extremely depressed and trying to stay sober. Without alcohol to help me cope, I used food instead. It had nothing to do with enjoying food and everything to do with my mental state. Which is typically where most of my problems stem from.

I didn’t use to have a sense of self. I didn’t really know who I was or even who I wanted to be. Because of that, I felt like I had to be the best. The best saxophonist. The best at some incredible awe-inspiring job. The skinniest. The most fun. The most sarcastic.

When I became more comfortable with myself, and who I am, all of that dissipated. Don’t get me wrong, I am an arrogant asshole when it comes to some things, and I will always be a sore loser. But I no longer feel like my job needs to complete me in some way. I don’t want my job to be my entire life, I just want it to support me.

Wanting and needing to be the best saxophonist led to completely ruining something I used to really love and enjoy. Also caused my first couple of major mental breakdowns. Good times.

Being obsessed with something that doesn’t exist (i.e. perfection) will destroy you, and trying to be better than everyone else (and make sure they know it) will lead to your entire life revolving around other people instead of the starring character, you.

This is starting to sound like a self-help book.

What’s that line again? You should be the starring character of your own life? Something like that.

You don’t have to live out some delusion of grandeur to have accomplished something.

I wrote last time that I’m very happy with my normal life, and I truly mean that. I think this is the first time in my life that I feel genuinely happy, and it all came about from being hyper-aware of my thoughts and constantly challenging them.

Why does what that person said anger me?

Is there truth to it?

Am I afraid there’s truth to it? (This is a huge thing that I may touch on in the future)

What’s going on in their life to make them say that?

Do their words actually have an impact on my life?

No? Then why am I concerning myself with it?

I’m obviously referring to personal social interactions, such as gossip, not necessarily things of actual importance like hate speech. By all means, get angry and punch all the Nazis.

People poke fun at the standard line of questioning from therapists because it’s usually just asking “Why do you feel that way?” or some other why-based question, but there’s a lot of value in training yourself to question your first reaction and analyzing your thoughts.

There’s always another perspective. Hell, there’s always a few hundred more perspectives.  A lot of the things that you think are about you aren’t actually about you, it’s about whoever is doing/saying it.

And I’m guilty of this. I have been emotionally abusive to people in the past, I will be the first person to admit that. I still feel a lot of guilt about it, but I’m slowly learning to forgive myself. It’s a work in progress. Those acts came from the fact that I was upset with my self-esteem and my life in general. It had nothing to do with the person I was hurting. That absolutely 100% does not make my actions okay, but I think the people in my life who stayed with me through that or came back to me at a later time understand that that wasn’t actually how I felt about them. That was how a younger, more immature version of myself poorly chose to deal with the crappy situation going on in her brain.

Shoutout to those of you who knew me then and still call me a friend now. You da real MVPs.

So,

how did I get through all of it?

I got to a point where I couldn’t keep living my life the way I was living it.

I wanted to be a better person that people actually wanted in their lives.

I trained myself to start questioning my mind, and thus became a lot more understanding and empathetic towards others.

I also just, well, grew up.

I hate saying that, because I don’t want it to sound like people struggling with serious mental illness just need to grow up because that’s not true at all. But I have a lot of confidence in myself now knowing that if my mind started to go south again, I would immediately seek help, instead of just being like,

Nah, this is fine.

One more long island iced tea, please.

Actually make it two.

I’m fine.

Nowadays I don’t even touch alcohol if I’m super anxious or mildly depressed. I don’t even go there. I just let myself feel whatever it is that I’m feeling.

Which is yet another thing that I want to talk about at a later point.

Emotions are valid.

Let yourself feel them.

I’ve gotta wrap this up or this is basically going to turn into a novel.

I’m settling into a very content place. I have this unwavering trust in where I am and what’s coming. I feel like my life is finally starting to line up and become something that I’ve always wanted it to be. I don’t know exactly what that is, but I have this weird trust in not knowing.

I’m happy, possibly for the first time in my life.

Life is good.

Also Kendrick Lamar won a Pulitzer and I’m so fucking stoked about it.

Anyway. Happy Monday. Thanks for tuning in.

Until next time.

xx.

 

 

 

 

Wine Drunk on a Monday

So, to state the obvious, I haven’t written much recently. I mean, duh, I haven’t posted anything in for-fucking-ever, everyone who reads this blog knows I haven’t written anything long form recently. And even with my poetry, it’s not original. It is, it’s my work. But it’s from old emotions and shit I felt 1+ years ago, and it just doesn’t feel authentic.
I haven’t even really had writers block either, I’ve had ideas of things to write, things to discuss. I’m just at this point in my life where I don’t feel like what I think matters. It’s part of the reason why I don’t tweet that much anymore. I used to live-tweet situations. It was mildly obnoxious, but looking back on my timehop is hysterical because here are these quotes from moments I would have otherwise forgotten about. But now? When I want to bitch on twitter, I think, “Oh my god, nobody cares, just get over it,” and when I want to celebrate an accomplishment, I think, “Oh my god, nobody cares,” It’s this endless cycle of wanting to communicate but feeling like my voice doesn’t matter, and that nobody is listening. So why put in the effort?
I’ve grown up so much over the past couple of years, and I love it. I have my mini-meltdowns about how the hell I’m ever going to be able to afford to fully support myself and buy a new car, and live in a decent place, but overall, you couldn’t pay me to give this all up. I really feel like I have an actual life and that’s the most incredible thing. I look back on my younger self and I cringe. Not because of what I struggled with, but with how I dealt with it. I bragged of being “mature for my age,” yet coped with very serious issues in an extremely immature way. It’s hard to regret it though, because I grew through that and into the woman I am now, and I know I wouldn’t be this version of myself if I hadn’t gone through all of that in the way that I did.
I don’t know. I want to write. My dream since I was a little girl is to eventually have a hard copy of something with my name on it. I want to be published. But I suck at writing fiction, and I can’t help but think that my blog posts are just the voice of another white girl who used to drink too much and once attempted suicide. None of it feels original. None of it feels special. I don’t think I’m some literary genius whose words will touch people. I’m just a normal person, and after years of trying to convince myself that I was special and unique and going to live some incredible life, admitting to being normal feels somewhat comforting. Maybe that’s what this is all about?
Lately I’ve been finding a lot of joy in just being a good friend to people. Making people laugh is one of my favorite things. I like being real and genuine, and I think maybe that’s what’s always made me a decent writer. I’m very in touch with my emotions and I’m not afraid to just say what I feel. I’m very genuine, and have found it’s actually really fucking hard  for me to lie nowadays.
I changed positions at work recently, and walking away from sales was incredibly clarifying for me, and I think that if I had stayed in that position for much longer, I might have gotten totally wrapped up in materialism.  I even told my manager that if I didn’t get the promotion, then I would probably leave because I just didn’t see myself there anymore. While I’m a sucker for a good pair of shoes, at the end of the day, the name on the stuff in your closet doesn’t fucking matter. I’m now working in operations, doing a lot of tedious things, but it feels more like me.
I turned 26 last month and I’ve just been reflecting a lot and laughing at my younger self. It cracks me up. I remember being younger and thinking, “I’m NEVER going to get married and have kids! I want a fabulous life!” and literally the only fabulous life I can imagine myself having involves being the matriarch of a family. I couldn’t ever see myself being a mother, and now that’s one of my life goals. I have to be a mom at some point. I’m not in some crazy rush to make it happen tomorrow, I’m aiming for like, my thirties, but I really want to have kids. I should probably find someone to father them, but ya know, we can figure that out later. #singleaf.
Also, where the fuck did the past twenty-six years go? HOW AM I THIS OLD? I mean, I understand logically how I am this old, but HOW? Also, why are all of my friends married or engaged? Did I miss some memo that we all need to be hitched by now? Because I’m obviously failing miserably at that. Which, I would like to rant about for a bit, so buckle up.
The other day, someone mentioned to me that I used to date a lot. I basically had back-to-back relationships when I was younger. I was rarely single. I’ve been single for most of the past five years of my life. I’ve dated people, felt nothing, and walked away. I don’t think it’s necessarily that I’m avoiding dating, I think it’s more that I have higher self-esteem and higher standards for the men that I date. I want to have something in common with them. I keep going out with these guys who look at me like I’m some magical unicorn and it freaks me out. I’m not special, as I already said. Also I somehow wound up dating a guy who doesn’t listen to music recently and that’s one that really baffles me. My hobby is literally going to concerts and I was dating someone who didn’t listen to music. Wut.
I’m fine on my own. I wouldn’t MIND having someone but I’m so much happier on my own than in a mediocre relationship (isn’t everyone?) and I’m sick of listening to veiled jabs at my relationship status. I’m single, so what? I’m happy. Isn’t that what really matters here?
I realize this is such a rambling rollercoaster, but I haven’t written in SO LONG and this is just what’s been on my mind lately. Thank you for witnessing this clusterfuck of a blog post while I take out a bottle of wine.

TL;DR: I feel like I am a fraud of a writer, but life is going pretty decently otherwise. So, yay?

Maybe we all had a problem?

Originally published on 6/29/2017

 

I went to AA once.
And I wish I could say it was a couple years ago, or back before I got my shit together, but it wasn’t. I was living in Columbia.
It gave me a lot of perspective, but ultimately showed me that I wasn’t necessarily an alcoholic. I didn’t like the idea that I had absolutely no control over alcohol. Everyone in the meeting was kind and supportive. They asked how long it had been since I’d had a drink, and I replied,
“Two days,”
“Don’t worry, this is the hardest part,” they assured me.
However, what I felt in that moment wasn’t hard, and it made me question whether or not I really needed to be there. I wasn’t craving a drink. I was fine with being sober. It was a Tuesday afternoon; why would I be drunk right now? I listened to the members of the group tell their stories, and I couldn’t relate. I’d never started my day with hard liquor. A mimosa, maybe, but that was only on special occasions. I don’t regret going. Attending that meeting was a step in the right direction for me to figure out what exactly my relationship with alcohol was.
Alcohol was one of the last things I got under control. Throughout the process of figuring out why I turn to alcohol so easily, and what exactly it does for me, I realized that I had been taught through socialization by peers, media, and even family, that alcoholic tendencies are a very normal part of our society… and I think that’s kind of fucked up.
After the AA meeting, I shelved my copy of the Big Book and made the decision that I probably wouldn’t ever go back.  I still needed to do something though, so I sobered up for a month. I just wanted to see if I could easily do it.  During that time, I took a notebook and wrote down every time I wanted a drink. It was a journaling technique I was taught in therapy, although I was using it for a specific reason instead of just logging my mentality throughout the day. I wrote down the date and time, what I wanted, and why I wanted it. The answer took me about two seconds to figure out, but I kept journaling anyway until I stopped wanting drinks for emotional reasons.
I’m an extremely emotional person. It’s just part of who I am, and I used to have issues with that. Emotions are what make us human, yet for the longest time, I wanted to deny that I wasn’t overly emotional. I felt that it made it harder for people to take me seriously. So instead of being upset, I would drink. Instead of venting my frustrations, I would drink. Instead of soaking up every ounce of happiness over an exciting event, I would drink. Mental illness didn’t help either. I coped with my depression and anxiety by drinking. During those years, being intoxicated was easier than being sober, but it didn’t solve anything. It just delayed the moment when I finally faced my shit head on, and the things that I had said/done while intoxicated added a ridiculous amount of other stuff that I also had to deal with.
When I moved to Columbia and went back to school, I moved away from the vast majority of my social stressors. I was able to finally start over and just focus on college. Yet, for some reason that I can only guess was habit, I was still drinking at least two nights a week, if not more. It wasn’t quite on the same level. I wasn’t going out and dancing on bars and blacking out. I wasn’t sleeping with a trash can by my bed, but I was waking up with a wine bottle on my nightstand. My recycling bin was mostly filled with empty bottles. I was spending my Friday thinking about the bottle of wine waiting for me at the end of it. I was significantly disappointed when my friends couldn’t make it to dollar margarita night, and would usually wind up going to the liquor store and throwing myself a marg night…alone. Yup, totally normal.
It took me a solid two years to actually see something wrong with that, because our society is so tolerant of alcoholic tendencies, especially in college. Now, the raging drunk who beats their children and spouse obviously needs to sober up and go to AA, but what about the functional alcoholic? What about the person who brags about a dinner of, “fruit salad, okay mostly grapes, okay wine, I’m having wine for dinner,” does that person need a meeting?
Back in my days of doing a lot more than just boozin’ at frat houses, I remember scouring the internet for something that would convince me that I had a problem. I knew I did, but I needed someone else to tell me, and I didn’t think it would be the people doing all of the same things with me.  Anyway, I remember finding a quote on tumblr, and it was something along the lines of,
The second you use a substance to fill a void is the moment you start to abuse it.
It’s stuck with me. We drink to deal with our insecurities, to give us the courage to ask out the attractive person on the other side of the bar. We drink to celebrate. We drink to drown the sorrow of a loss. We drink when we win, and we drink when we lose. Win or lose, we still booze. You aced your final? Hell yeah, let’s go party. You think you failed? Oh well, it’s over, let’s go get drunk to forget about it. Why is this behavior okay, and more importantly, why is it normalized?
This is the part where I have to get really clear about what I’m trying to say, otherwise every time I post a photo of a glass of wine, I’m going to get shit: I’m not saying we should all stop drinking. I’m not sober. What I’m specifically addressing is the normalization of drinking to fill a void, which is 100% an alcoholic tendency. I got a grasp on my drinking by getting very real with myself about why I was drinking. I would turn to alcohol when I had something on my mind that I didn’t want to deal with. A test that I thought I did badly on. Loneliness. The guy I liked was dating someone else. A paper I didn’t want to write. I felt that I couldn’t be funny unless I was three drinks in (which is false).
I’m not talking about sitting around a table with your friends, playing cards and having some drinks. I’m talking about the, “Fuck it, let’s get drunk,” moments that are all over the internet and basically everywhere. I’m talking about drinking to forget about an ex or losing your job, or even spending an entire day looking forward to the drink that’s waiting for you at the end of it. Drinking from an emotional place. Drinking to numb something. Drinking to cope. That’s what I’m talking about.
One fun thing about myself is that I have a really hard time stopping my consumption of alcohol when I’m emotional. I don’t want to deal with whatever is happening that’s making me upset, so I just get another drink. Cutting myself off means sobering up and having to face whatever I’m avoiding. I finally got really sick of being the drunk girl, so I stopped drinking when I was upset. That’s when I have to tell myself, “Nope, I don’t need alcohol right now.”
My weekends with friends went from, “Hey let’s get drunk this weekend. We’re due for a drunk night,” to, “Hey let’s go out,” or, “Hey, let’s have a movie night,” and somehow that mentality has allowed me to actually remember time with my friends. Drinking to get drunk results in a different type of drunken state than just having a few drinks with friends does. I was recently in one of my best friend’s weddings, and we spent the night before the wedding drinking in the bridal suite after the rehearsal dinner. It was like a giant adult sleepover, and it was so much fun. We sat around in our PJs and drank champagne out of plastic cups and talked about life and love and relationships. I woke up the next day feeling completely fine, with all of my memories from the night before fully intact. Whereas on nights when the goal of the night has been to get drunk, things usually end in a much uglier manner.
Granted, a lot of this might have to do with the fact that I’m in my mid-twenties and just don’t feel like doing shots and keg-stands, or going from Jack to Malibu to Fireball to Budweiser and then back to Jack again. I was offered a tequila shot at the reception for the previously mentioned wedding, and I had to give myself a damn pep talk before I took it. Maybe this is just growing up. I’ve mentioned my past drinking problem to people and they say, “You didn’t have a problem, you were just in college. We all did that shit. We all drank multiple nights a week.”So maybe we all had a problem? I don’t know.
I guess all I’m trying to say is that just because it’s everywhere, doesn’t mean it’s normal or healthy. Facing whatever you don’t want to deal with is scary and hard, but no matter how much you drink, you’re going to have to face it eventually. Trust me.

I’m coming back!

Sup, WordPress?

About a year ago, I abandoned ship and decided to take my blog to another platform. Turns out that was a huge mistake. I’m now beginning the process of moving back to old faithful wordpress. Over the next week or so I’ll be uploading some pieces already published on the newer site, and eventually transfer the domain back to this page.

 

Thoughts on 13 Reasons Why.

TW: Discussion of suicide, self-harm, rape, and mental illness.

I also relate a lot of it to my own personal experiences, so if you’re not familiar with my story, you’re about to be.

Aaand, spoiler alert for the show, I guess. Although I’m not sure why you’re reading this if you haven’t watched it yet.

I just finished watching 13 Reasons Why. Well, actually about twenty minutes ago, but it took me ten minutes to lower my heart rate from the brutal break down I had during the suicide scene.  A few days ago, I had firmly decided I wouldn’t touch this show.  I wouldn’t watch it. I didn’t want to wind up hyperventilating while sobbing hysterically during the rape and suicide scenes, like I knew I absolutely would (and I did).  Yet, all I’ve heard and read about lately has been this controversy. There’s a pretty clear split: people either love it or hate it.  I’m one of those people that likes to form my own opinion, especially when it comes to things that everyone is talking about, so I finally took a deep breath and began cautiously watching this show.

I have a lot of things I want to discuss in relation to this show, and I apologize if I go off on rants or tangents.  I’ll try to make my points eventually.

13 Reasons Why makes me so frustrated that I want to scream.  It’s decently close to really nailing what it’s trying to do, but the errors it makes in telling a story about suicide ruin the entire thing, even the good stuff.

As a writer, and someone who appreciates the art of storytelling, I think the mechanism it uses is really interesting.  Not necessarily something new, but still interesting. The tapes. Each episode is a different side of a tape, and through flashbacks and voiceovers, the story is told.  It’s intriguing.  It keeps the audience interested.  Who’s on the next tape? What did they do?

This entire concept is ruined by the fact that each tape is supposedly a reason why Hannah killed herself.  It’s an artistically detailed suicide note blaming those responsible for killing herself and overlooking the real culprit: mental fucking illness.

It’s 2017, so I hate that I have to state this, but mental illness is serious.  It can kill you. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.  Approximately 121 suicides occur every day, with 25 attempts for every success. Think about that. This is real. While other diseases weaken your immune system and wind up killing you with pneumonia or organ failure, mental illness kills you with suicide.  It’s the fucker that gets you to do the dirty work.

There’s a movement to start saying “died by suicide” instead of “committed suicide” because “committed suicide” makes it sound like it was an active, coherent choice.  “Oh, I think I’ll die today.”  People who have never been in that place call it selfish.  Weak.  Inconsiderate to your friends and family.  But until you’ve been stuck at the bottom of the rabbit hole for months or years, don’t try to tell me it’s a choice. It’s the glowing exit sign out of the dark hell your mind has been trapped in.  It’s the warm sense of relief that in just a few minutes, all of your suffering will finally be over.  It’s warped perception, because your mind doesn’t go there until shit is really bad. It’s bullshit. And to this day, I will still scream from the rooftops that it does in fact get better if you just stick around to find out.  Like Hannah, I needed someone to pick up on the fact that I wasn’t okay.  And luckily for me, someone did. That didn’t magically fix my issues, but it bought me a little more time to at least get my head above water.  However, I didn’t attempt to get someone’s attention or to get back at anyone.  It doesn’t work that way.

It’s not a place you get to just because people are shitty to you.  People being shitty to you amplifies already existing issues.  Bullying does not cause suicide.  Bullying can amplify the symptoms of pre-existing mental illness, and in severe cases, that can lead to suicide.  There’s a difference here.

Another massive issue I have: this show basically walks you through a successful suicide step by step with visual aids.  If it’s something a viewer is considering, lo and behold! A perfectly good way to do it.  You can tell the story of suicide without a step-by-step visual.  I have a lot of issues with exploiting trauma for views, and that’s what the suicide and rape scenes felt like to me.  Showing a violent rape doesn’t help the story in any way.  You can get the point of what happened across without fully depicting it.

The suicide scene fucked me up. My attempt was basically the same method, only I didn’t bother with the tub, and I only had enough time to do one arm before someone was banging on my apartment door.  While watching, I was hysterical and seriously considered fast-forwarding through it, but instead I just closed my eyes and tried to not pass out from hyperventilating.  Even though I knew how the scene ended, I kept wishing someone would knock on the door like they had for me.

One thing I really liked about this show is that it showed the aftermath of suicide.  The people left in its wake.  The scenes with Hannah’s mother almost always had me tearing up.  Her daughter is dead.  She’s trying to cope and figure out why.  I feel like Kate Walsh nailed this.  The desperation, the grief, all while trying to hold her life together and barely doing so.  The only unbelievable moment was when she found Hannah’s body, and her first reaction was a very quiet, almost nonchalant, “oh no,” like she left her phone in the car.  After that, the shock built and it became more believable, and I once again lost my shit over imagining my mother finding my body.

Early on, I was so annoyed by Hannah.  Her tone in the first few tapes is superior, like she’s happy to finally get her revenge on these people. But as the show continued to develop, and her condition begins to get more and more unstable, I began to see myself in her.  Which is interesting, because I know a few people that have the opposite opinion: that as she becomes more unstable, they find her more annoying.

As Hannah becomes more unstable, she begins to lash out more. She pushes people away while secretly hoping they’ll run back, and then is disappointed when they don’t.  She screams at Clay and tells him to leave, when she just wants him to understand that she’s been through some serious shit with dudes and has trust issues.  People cut her out because she’s a lot to deal with, and she winds up alone and isolated and contemplating suicide.

I actually overheard someone talking about the show today and they mentioned how crazy she was.  Boy, did that strike a chord with me.

The general public seems to be way more understanding with internalizing disorders, because to some degree, almost everyone has experienced some type of depression or anxiety, and they can easily wrap their head around the concept of, “Okay it’s like that day you were really in a funk but every day for months or years on end.”   People who don’t suffer from Major Depressive Disorder or an anxiety spectrum disorder can sort of understand that and try to empathize.

But as soon as symptoms become external, it’s a completely different situation. People can’t wrap their head around irrational thoughts or saying one thing and meaning the exact opposite. That makes no sense in their minds that are fully capable of rational thought. They don’t understand what it’s like for your mind to jump to conclusions so fast that you wind up with a version of reality that defies all logic. They don’t understand how crippling paranoia can be.  They just see you, yelling about something that doesn’t even make sense.  And all of a sudden, you’re difficult. Or a drama queen. Or overreacting.  Or crazy.  Or psycho. Insane. Too much to handle. The list goes on and on.  For some reason, people don’t want to recognize that those people need help too.

I’m not part of the intended audience. I realize that. Trauma survivors are not the intended audience.  But we still have to watch to see if they’re telling our stories correctly, and when they don’t, we have to call them out.  Because our stories matter.  Our stories help eliminate stigma and assure others who are struggling that they are not alone, and it’s okay to ask for help.  Our stories of rape and suicide and abuse deserve to be told correctly.

So I will end by restating my main point that prompted this giant rant.  The parts that 13 Reasons Why gets right are completely ruined by the overarching theme of the story: that thirteen people caused a girl to take her life.  I’m sorry, but that’s just total bullshit.

If you have thoughts of self-harm, seek professional help or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. If you have experienced sexual assault, call RAINN at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).