It’s 3:30 in the morning, April 13. I’m sitting at my desk, drinking bad coffee and dull tasting soda. I’m exhausted, but I can’t sleep.
Thirty minutes ago, I was in bed, watching the new Netflix television series “13 Reasons Why.”
The show details the life of high school teenager Hannah Baker, who commits suicide while placing the blame partly on the way 13 different people treated her. She leaves cassette tapes for these people to listen to and pass on, hoping that they may better understand the way they made her feel.
The final episode is gut-wrenching, as Baker’s graphic suicide is shown in detail, ending with Baker’s parents desperately grasping their lifeless daughter.
It’s not a beautiful, happy ending, but it’s one that many people can relate to.
A 20-year-old from a great family, good financial situation and dating a beautiful young woman, I go to war with depression every day, punching and blasting away at feelings and thoughts that come to mind. In the past I’ve cried myself to sleep, slept 20 hours in a single day and pushed away those I love. I’ve had my mother pull a bottle of pills from my hand while the other hand was busy calling my girlfriend with tears running an endless track meet against my cheeks.
That’s the thing about depression. It doesn’t care if you’re a 13-year-old high school freshman begging for fresh air or a presidential candidate yearning for the Oval Office. If you have it, it’s a constant battle.
Depression isn’t beautiful. It’s not an easy fix, and it should be a growing concern in today’s society.
I understand that growing up, Baby Boomers (the age demographic for most parents) had their own struggles. Kids today also battle challenges.
According to suicide.org, a non-profit organization fighting suicide, a teen takes his or her own life every 100 minutes. Suicide is the third-leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24.
Social media has created a new society. Whether you like it or not, anything you do can be released to a list of Facebook friends, which is ironic considering most friend lists (mine included) consist of people we barely know. College is demanding, people suck sometimes, and this dull-tasting soda in front of me definitely cost more than the quarter our parents paid for theirs back in the day.
These are just a few of the issues kids these days (Holy cow, do I hate myself for saying ‘kids these days’ like some delusional old man in a rocking chair) face on a daily basis.
“13 Reasons Why” details bullying, social media, friendships, relationships and sexual assault in the chilling episodes. Each one is different, but in each one the show reminds watchers that though the main character’s voice is audible, there is nobody to claim it as she is dead.
I used to get so confused when people talked about depression. I got angry when the girl in my class talking about her depression came from a perfect family, splendid life and wonderful friends. I didn’t understand how someone who seemingly had it all figured out could be falling apart on the inside.
Then it happened to me, and for the first time in my life (as long as you don’t ask my parents or girlfriend) I was wrong.
I remember reading a column by fellow reporter Mike Tighe awhile ago. As I scanned his story, my view on depression, along with the knot in my stomach, flipped. How could the goofy old man who had terrible jokes, drank too much coffee, and was always smiling be affected by depression?
I didn’t come here at 3:30 in the morning to pour my guts onto a screen and drink enough caffeine to wind me up like an old watch. If you’ve managed through my ramblings to this point, please keep some things in mind:
If you haven’t already seen it, watch the show. If you are a parent, I can only imagine it will shake you to your core. It is as eye-opening and incredibly powerful as it is chilling and terrifying. While the show does have a tendency to romanticize suicide, showing it in a way that makes it seem like a way to take revenge on those who have wronged you, it also opens the door to see how mental illness affects people.
If you don’t know someone with depression, you’re not looking. Statistics show that someone around you is struggling. To children and adults who may be struggling, fight like hell. I know firsthand this isn’t something that goes away, but I promise you it can get better if you want it to.
Find someone you trust and talk about your options. If you begin to watch the show and find yourself struggling, seek help immediately. Don’t allow yourself to be sucked into the romantic and beautiful picture the show can paint. Take some lessons from Hannah Baker’s 13 reasons why she ended her life and turn it into 13 reasons why you can turn it around, and do so the way nobody else can.
It’s now 5 in the morning on April 13, and while my coffee is still bad and the soda is still dull, I realize that my life isn’t. It’s one heck of a day to be alive.