Last week I fell into the deep pit of binge watching the new Netflix series, Thirteen Reasons Why. For those of you who don't know what this is, it's a 13-episode series that follows the 13 tapes that Hannah Baker, a high school girl who committed suicide, left behind explaining her decision. The series is based off of the book Thirteen Reasons Why written by Jay Asher. I read this book a few years after it came out in 2007. I was 14 or 15 at the time and I remember loving the book. It was dark and mysterious and I ate it up. I finished it in one day.
Now, 10 years after the book was released, there is a new way to experience it. Visual arts are powerful and the adaptation from text to image in this particular story was extremely well done. I think it is SO interesting because in the story there are 13 characters that ultimately led to Hannah's death, each of these people listened to the tapes. Some went through them all in one night and some couldn't handle it and had to go through them slowly. Like I said before, I read the book in one day. This show however, took me much longer. You know from the first five seconds of the series that Hannah had killed herself, yet you form a bond with her, and when you see her actually taking action in the last few episodes it is heartbreaking. I don't know what it was, the fact that I was watching a character that I began to care about to go through something so horrible; or the fact that I understood some of what she was feeling.
As someone who is obsessed with film and the way that pieces like this are put together I was in awe of the meticulosity of this series. You could tell that the directors, the producers, and the actors cared about presenting this material in the right way.
They wanted nothing more than to spark a conversation.
They did exactly that. There are tweets all over Twitter regarding the show, discussing the impact it is having on the world, specifically within the teen/young adult demographic. This is amazing. There is a piece of film, a piece of art, that has teens, young adults, and parents talking about really difficult things like bullying, self-harm, substance abuse, sexual assault/rape, depression, and suicide. This piece of art has people discussing and watching out for signs of all of these things. Yea, the media can suck sometimes, but it is amazing the amount of power it can have.
When I started this blog, this online journal, I wanted to do it for myself. I just wanted an outlet and I felt that this could be fun to try out. God had different plans. It has been incredible to get feedback from people who actually take the time to read some of the things I write. God uses even the smallest platforms to change hearts. After I finished watching this series I felt a powerful knock at the door of my heart and knew what was coming. He wants me to share. Oh, what a terrifying word.
So, after much prayer and hesitation I finally brought myself to the keyboard.
"A testimony is pain that has been reassigned"
-Johnnie Dent Jr.
When the final episode of this series ended I simply shut my computer and sobbed. The ending is extremely graphic and when I saw the disclaimer I figured it was just going to be graphic when they showed how Hannah killed herself. Honestly, what made me feel the most was the scene when her parents find her and begin to realize what happened to her. The audience is exploited to extreme, raw, pain. A pain that is unimaginable and honestly, a pain that seems ridiculous to the Hannah in the situation.
What really got me, what moved me to tears, was that Hannah didn't think they would care. She didn't think that they would react the way that they did. That was the hardest part to watch, in my opinion. It hit home. Knowing that there are SO MANY people, SO MANY teens, SO MANY girls and boys that honestly think that no one cares. It broke my heart because I know that feeling.
Currently I'm reading a book called Shut Up: Silence the Negative Thoughts in Your Head, by Christy Pierce. This book if chalk full of statistics of teenage depression and suicide rates. Adults reading this, did you know that 11.4 percent of youths 12-17 have had a (MDE) major depressive episode in the past year? Or that thirty percent of college students have reported being "too depressed to function"? This book is full of testimonials of teenagers and young adults that are struggling with mental health issues. It is supposed to open the mind of the reader and help them feel less alone in the midst of their trial. This is something that is running rampant in the lives of our peers.
I have had run-ins with things covered in Thirteen Reasons Why. Every day I have to choose to stand, to look at myself in the mirror and to audibly say, "you are loved." This series wrecked my heart. It absolutely broke it, but for good reason. The Lord wanted me to be wrecked, He wanted to force me to recognize how important I am. He wanted me to see how impactful I am without even knowing it. Hannah Baker left a trail of people heartbroken and she had no idea they even cared.
This year I finally began going to counseling. It's interesting because only now, after weeks of talking through the same issues, I am beginning to realize that one of my biggest triggers is feeling abandoned or lonely. I don't completely understand this because I live on a campus of 15,000 people. I am NEVER alone. Yet, loneliness is something that I am absolutely terrified of. I am so afraid of not being cared for, of not being able to talk to someone. I am afraid of being legitimately alone with my thoughts. This is something I have decided needs to change.
It has become somewhat of a joke between me and some friends but I have started to say aloud, "I'm happy and I love myself" whenever I'm upset or thinking about something negative and hurtful. This simple statement is somewhat funny and never fails to make me grin. The audible profession of something that isn't necessarily always true has become something that can stop a negative thought in my brain in its tracks. Negative thoughts isolate. Isolation creates a sense of abandonment.
Heres the gist, whatever you do to remind yourself of your worth please, continue to do it. If it's something as silly as what I do, or if it's writing something on your mirror, or on your wrist, keep doing it. We need to remind ourselves daily of how important we are because it is so easy to forget that. Become aware of thoughts that you have and shut them down. Honestly, I'm so sick of the slavery we live in regarding negative thought patterns, it's crap. TELL THEM OFF. You are stronger, you are better, you are so much more, than the negativity running through your head.
We are called to be impactful. We are called to be world changers and to be lovers of the lost. We are called to throw ourselves out into the world and pray that He will catch us at some point. We are challenged to be someones person. This can be terrifying to a point of immobilization. It's this very challenge that gives us purpose.
"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."
If theres anything I've learned from Thirteen Reasons Why it's that when people ask how you are, to be honest, because most of the people that ask genuinely do care.
13 Reasons Why You Matter
- You have a beating heart that works really hard for you to keep going.
- You have a future that is designed specifically for you, not someone else. Don't jip the world, you might cure cancer.
- Nobody can look out at life with exactly the same eyes as you do.
- Your life matters because you yearn for something better.
- Your life is a miracle, an actual miracle.
- You are always changing into someone better.
- You have people that care deeply about you, no matter what you think.
- You might save someone's life by living.
- Your words have unimaginable impact.
- You are somebody's best friend.
- No one else can fill your shoes.
- You were chosen to be born.
- You woke up today, thats God saying that He believes in you as a gift the world needs.
Y O U A R E L O V E D