13 Reasons Why

I watched the whole series in one sitting because I couldn’t believe what I was watching. 13 hours worth of pure bullshit.

This TV show claims to discuss teen suicide and mental health issues, but also covers sexual abuse, assault and self harm. To those of you who haven’t seen the show, I definitely wouldn’t recommend it. It’s an incredibly romanticised and unrealistic depiction of mental health difficulties. The 13 episodes depict the 13 reasons why Hannah Baker decided to kill herself, and they’re really fucking graphic (with no trigger warnings). Ordinarily, I’d support the depiction of mental health as an attempt to diminish stigma, but this show does the opposite.

This girl, Hannah, goes through an awful lot of shit, I definitely won’t deny that, but the whole show revolves around taking the piss out of her for it. Hannah is tormented endlessly, and she makes these 13 tapes explaining the 13 reasons why she decided to end her life. But that’s not what I find so incredibly problematic about the show.

Firstly, Clay is an absolute fucking idiot. He is so fucking in love with the idea of Hannah that he can’t see or focus on anything else. He never even really knew her. Losing someone close to you is the most fucking debilitating thing in the world, I know that, but Clay’s idolisation of this teenage girl just glorifies her actions, and romanticises her mental health difficulties. The show is set up to remove and shift blame from party to party, whilst the blamed characters attempt to blame Hannah, because ultimately, she made the choice to kill herself.
But no actually she fucking didn’t. Suicide isn’t a choice, nobody wants to fucking die, they crave the absence of pain and they crave an end to whatever it is they’re dealing with. Suicide doesn’t feel like a choice, it feels like the last and only fucking option.

The social media blow-up over this series has backfired immensely. Memes are being made surrounding the ‘welcome to your tape’ tag line, which in itself deepens the societal stigma and misunderstandings of mental health.

This show has made me so unbelievably fucking angry. And Clay seriously pisses me the hell off. He talks about Hannah as if she’s some fucking prize to be won, and he’s egotistical enough to genuinely believe she would still be alive if he hadn’t be so ‘afraid to love her’… like are you fucking serious mate?! This isn’t about you. If it was, the show would be called 1 fucking reason why.

The presentation of Hannah Baker’s story, whilst probably well intentioned, has achieved the opposite. It makes a mockery of those genuinely suffering with mental health issues, and suggests an inherent weakness to those who can find no other way out. It glorifies suicide as a romantic and beautiful ideal, as a revenge plot or a way of gaining attention, which is absolutely fucking wrong.

Yeah, suicide will cause havoc amongst your family and friends for a while, but eventually everyone just moves on and forgets about you, while they just keep on living. If you’re dead, you don’t get to make a point or some great romantic statement, because you’re dead, and everybody is gunna go on living with or without you. So to calculate Hannah’s actions and play the blame game only reiterates this suggestion that suicide can be utilised as a revenge plot, as if the results aren’t absolutely fucking catastrophic.

Hannah kills herself in the bath with a razor and she bleeds to death. I guess the whole point of this scene is to be brutally honest, right? Yeah well nah, it glamorises suicide as attention seeking and selfish and easy. It’s not fucking easy. It goes against every fucking instinct in your whole god damn fucking body. To glamorise that on TV presents suicide as some kind of sick joke. Like the destroyed but beautiful Ophelia floating upon the waters surface of Millais’ painting, Hannah Baker bleeds to death in a beautiful pool of her own beautiful blood, she’s even clothed for convenience.

The show pissed me off because it’s so misinformed and misguided. It devises Hannah’s experiences to play out like a game or a puzzle, motivated by intrigue and curiosity, not genuine care or worry. It glamourizes the most dark and violent aspects of human mentality and illness, and pokes fun of those who find themselves in such a dark place.

It’s false, and insulting and uninformed and inappropriately romantic. It’s unnecessarily triggering and violent and graphic. It’s complete and utter bullshit.

I’m glad I got that off my chest,
H x

No way out

I find myself coming back to this little blog a lot recently, and I’m finally forcing myself to talk about why.

I’m now home from uni for a bit, over the Easter holidays. I’ve been back for a bit and so far, haven’t managed to get any uni work done, which is driving me absolutely crazy. I finally sat myself down this afternoon to start doing some work, but I’ve just been staring into space for hours.

I’ve planned out everything that I need to get done, but I just can’t bring myself to properly begin. My brain is so fuzzy and grey; just writing these few sentences is taking so much out of me.

Sometimes I forget how bad my depression is, until I’m surrounded by happy people and I’m entirely isolated. Simple tasks like spelling, driving my car, or making a cup of tea are so difficult. I can’t concentrate on anything, and my soul just feels so so heavy. It’s like being trapped in a really dark tunnel, but without the light at the end.. so more like a cave or something? I don’t really know where I was going with that analogy.

I’m now 13 days away from my dissertation deadline, and I have two extended essays due on the same day as well. I got loads of work done while I was back at uni by myself, but the isolation made me more miserable than I could’ve imagined. Now I’m back at home, there’s a lot more distractions, and more excuses not to do anything. It’s taking everything in me to not just quit on today and go back to bed. The depression feels so heavy and suffocating and inescapable today, and it’s so exhausting.

I know there’s only 2 weeks of this essay torture remaining, which simultaneously feels like an insufficient but overwhelming period of time. It’s only two weeks, but I can’t do it.

H x

Self destruct

I’ve been on my Easter break from uni for a few days now, but I’ve stayed in my uni house alone, in the hope of being able to get some extra work done before my deadlines in a few weeks.

I’m so super stressed and my ED is killing me. It’s crippling and I don’t know what to do anymore. I feel crazy and so out of control and I don’t really know what’s going on. I think it’s just really hit me that I’m going to be all on my own for the next 3 weeks, and this really doesn’t feel like a good idea anymore. I know I need to get the work done, and I’m planning on spending all day tomorrow in the library, but I’m just going to have to see how I go. This is already so much harder than I thought it would be. Like yeah, sure, being home alone comes with so much freedom and I can do or go where I want, but it’s also so so lonely.

I’ve spent today trying to relax, to try and prepare myself for the weeks ahead, but this is where things got a little trickier.

My stress release has always been baking. It’s calms me, and gives me something to concentrate on and it’s strangely therapeutic. But the problem here is that I’m alone; there’s nobody around to eat my baked goods. Usually I can rely on my housemates to polish off whatever I’ve made, but now I’m all alone and I feel like I’ve just backed myself into a corner.
I’ve just lifted a tray of my favourite cookies out of the oven, and I want to cry. They’re my favourites and I just want to make a cuppa and sit in front of the telly with 1 or 2. But I can’t. I really really just can’t. I don’t deserve to and they’ll just make me even huger and if I start I won’t be able to stop. What’s really terrifying, is that I was excited for my housemates to leave, because I was looking forward to having the freedom to purge whenever I needed to, without worrying about them hearing me or growing concerned.

So now I’m stuck in this internal war. Part of me wants to dump the whole fucking tray in the bin, and the other part of me wants to eat the lot and just purge afterwards.

I feel like a broken human with no control over her own brain, and it’s really fucking scary.

H x

Perspective

I’ve been in a bit of a slump recently. I’ve been entirely consumed within my depression, my SH is getting ridiculous and my ED is worse than ever. But today I feel alright, and that’s huge.

Yesterday was really bad. I couldn’t see past this huge grey emptiness that surrounded me, and I had no desire to do, be or say anything. I felt so empty and lost and alone and so entirely helpless. I spent the whole day looking at the same four walls. The simplest of things, like going to make a cup of tea or replying to a text, took an incredible amount of effort. My depression has not been that bad in such a long time, and I’d almost forgotten just how dark those days are.

I’ve been really stressed with uni and I’ve been setting myself all of these unattainable and ridiculous deadlines, because I just feel so overwhelmed by how much work I have to do. It’s impossible to feel on top of everything; there’s always more to do, and being such a fucking perfectionist makes it very difficult to prioritise the important stuff.

My housemate got home yesterday evening and decided I needed to go out for a walk. I really didn’t want to, but I knew I needed it. We live really close to a beautiful park on top of a hill, which looks out over the city, and it’s so peaceful. So we went and chatted a bit, then went and sat on the swings in the kids playground for a bit, in silence.

I got on that swing and felt 12 again, young and free and innocent and naïve. I swung as high as I could go and the cold wind on my face made me feel somewhat alive again. Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t magically fix my brain or anything, but for a few seconds, I felt okay.

Swinging in the dark, with the cold breeze, we could hear the traffic of the city below and the rustlings of the wildlife around us, and it was so peaceful. I felt the clarity I’d been searching for all day. I was just a girl looking down on a big city, and all the stuff in my head felt a little more insignificant.

There’s a big wide world out there, I guess all I needed was a little perspective.

H x

Connection

Why is it, that I can’t turn off my phone without feeling guilty? Why do I feel like I need to be contactable every second of the day? How can a device that’s supposed to connect me with others, instead make me feel so detached?

I understand the marvel of the technological era, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love my phone and social media etc., but today I’m just really done with all of it. Right now, my phone and this whole online world makes me feel so trapped.

The last couple of days have been shittier than usual. I’ve barely eaten, and what I do I’m forced to throw right back up, my depression is consuming me, my anxiety is through the roof and I’ve been more suicidal than ever before. I can’t function, I’m failing miserably at painting on a smile so my housemates think that I’m fine, I’ve missed 4/6 of my uni contact hours this week and I genuinely feel like I’m drowning. Everything is getting to me, I cried yesterday because my last yoghurt was out of date, like it’s actually ridiculous.

I don’t want to talk to anybody. I know that’s probably the worst thing I could possibly do when I’m feeling so low, but the thought of interacting with other people and trying to maintain this image of how they view me, especially when I don’t feel like myself at all, just seems like an impossible task. It’s not that I don’t love my friends and family, I just don’t want to talk right now. I just feel so guilty.

I’ve received a few messages today that were important, but honestly, that doesn’t even matter right now, I just don’t care about anything. I think I’ve just gotten to the point where I feel so horrific that I can’t bare the thought of human interaction, I just want to curl into a little ball and hide in bed.

I turned my phone off this afternoon, and honestly I don’t even miss it. It’s like a sigh of relief, and I feel a lot freer not having to check a device every 5 minutes. But I also feel really really guilty for the messages I haven’t replied to yet. They’re all my friends and I know that ultimately, they’re not going to hate me for not replying for a while. I guess with everything going around my head right now, the last thing I want to do is burden them. I know eventually I’ll feel better, and a good night’s sleep will probably help, but for now, I’m unbearably overwhelmed and I wish I could stop living.

H x

Vampire fiction and anorexia: a rant.

I’m almost half way through my second semester of my final year at uni, but today a comment from one of my seminar tutors really set me off. I’m taking a class on the Victorian Gothic, and this week we were studying Le Fanu’s Carmilla and Stevenson’s Olalla. As you may or may not be aware, both of these texts focus upon the figure of the female vampire, and this is primarily what was discussed in the seminar.

My seminar tutor suggested that the behaviour of the vampire within this fiction could possibly be a metaphorical representation of eating disorder behaviours, particularly anorexia. I froze.

I’m sure there’s a somewhat reasonable analytical background to this analogy but it initially struck me as an unnecessarily uninformed suggestion, and to be quite honest, I was both upset and angry.

I came home, and decided to do a bit of research on the matter, which was probably a really bad idea because I found it particularly triggering. However, one article really stuck with me was *see below*…
http://homepages.nildram.co.uk/~beast/publications/vamp_paper/psychoanalysis.html

The text discusses the “vampire’s relationship to food and feeding”, alongside a psychoanalytical description of eating disorders. Whilst I agree that the eating patterns and diet of a vampire are unusual and therefore interesting, the vampire remains a supernatural being, much like a werewolf or a ghost, and thus, not human. Vampires are categorically characterised by their undeniable beauty, as an enigma of immortal perfection. To therefore suggest this as equivalent to the anorexic figure is sickening, glamourizing and romanticising a condition that is both entirely debilitating, and possibly fatal. To create a parallel between the immorality of a monster, and the vulnerability of the weakening anorexic figure is, therefore, incredibly insulting. Without seeming to realise it, this theorist suggests that the monstrosity of mental health and eating disorders are immortal and therefore inescapable, as a hideous transformations of the self into some unsalvageable and abhorrent creature.

To the author of that article:
Like yeah, kudos to you, I’m genuinely really happy (and definitely jealous) of the fact that you clearly have absolutely no personal experience with eating disorders or their effects. I know that, because if you had, there’s no way you would write or publish such ridiculous interpretations. Vampire fiction, particularly the Victorian texts I’ve studied recently, demonstrate both societal and religious subtexts, written before our generation, and therefore, are unable to predict or explore 21st century problems. I’m not suggesting that eating disorders didn’t exist before this time, purely because they were almost entirely ignored, but instead, that vampire fiction is entirely that; about a supernatural being with a thirst for blood, NOT a mentally ill individual with the inability to sufficiently nourish themselves.

With particular reference to the above article, I think the worst part by far was the conclusion. This critic suggests that: ‘the vampire and the anorexic share not only the same psychic background to their behaviour but arrive at the same conclusion – the destruction of the body.’
This is an entirely uneducated and incorrect conclusion. The vampire is a figure, which stereotypically experiences a bite of some kind, and thus ensues the transformation into an immortal figure. To therefore suggest that a mental disorder is similarly contagious is ludicrous; an eating disorder is a mental illness, not a bug that can be caught. It’s something deep-rooted within the sensibility of the sufferer, a disease which eventually robs the victim of their ability to enjoy and value life.

While yes, living with an eating disorder does sometimes feel like you’re trying to conceal and control a monstrous voice within yourself, this condition in no way makes the sufferer themselves abhorrent, or in any way similar to the brutality or behaviours of vampirism. Fundamentally, vampires are figures of legend, folk-lore and horror stories. I focus here on story, fiction, myth. Eating disorders on the other hand, are very very real.

H x

I promise it’s not just vanity *ED trigger warning*

I feel like I just need to talk. Whether this will turn out to be a huge rambling mess or something a little more coherent, I have no idea, but I just need to talk.

As you may or may not know, I’ve struggled with my mental health for quite a while, and my ED has officially been added to the list. I’m not here to glamourize it either, because it’s honestly so fucking shit.

For as long as I can remember I’ve been so obsessed with looking and feeling skinny. I’ve never had a BMI above the ideal range, but I’ve never felt ideal.
Throughout my late teen years, it really started to become a problem. I felt so out of control of everything that was going on in my life, and eating, or not eating, gave me something to focus on. Controlling what I could/ couldn’t eat made me feel like I’d taken some power back, and it was just an escapist mechanism that I’d use when things were particularly shitty.
This went on for a few years, but started to spiral during my second year of uni. I felt lost and confused and just so so shit. I began to experience severe suicidal thoughts and urges, and I began to self harm. My eating deteriorated, but I tried to hide it, because I was so terrified of the reactions and the worry it would cause for my friends and family. My weight started to decrease, but I still wasn’t happy with my reflection in the mirror. I’d achieve the targets I’d set for myself, but it was never ever good enough. I’m now the clothing size I wanted to be, but I’ve never been more miserable.

Right now, I’m in my third year, and this eating thing is worse than ever. I’m still partly in denial that it’s even a thing, because it’s terrifying, but my doctor is finally aware of it, and hopefully she can help. Currently, I’ve dropped a dress size, and I’m eating a meal/ under 500 calories per day. But what’s really ridiculous, it that typing that out doesn’t feel ridiculous, 500 calories seems to me like far too much, when in reality, I know it’s far too little.
I think that’s probably the most frustrating thing: I know it’s illogical and ridiculous and I know nobody really cares about the number on the scales, but I can’t stop. As much as I try and convince myself that it’s just this thing I do to help me cope, I haven’t eaten 3 meals/day for months and the thought repulses me. I feel completely sick if my stomach is anything other than empty, and the thought of eating too much or gaining weight genuinely terrifies me. At first I thought this was just a weird little coping quirk that I could just turn off when I wanted to or when things got better. But I can’t. Things haven’t got better, and I can’t just turn all these thoughts off, because trust me, I’ve tried.

It really fucking sucks to feel completely at the mercy of your own mind, like you have absolutely no control over your own actions. It’s also pretty shit to completely despise the skin you have to walk around in.

I know the recovery process is going to be difficult, and right now, I’m not even excited for the prospect of the end result, because it doesn’t seem worth it, nothing does. I’m so done with all the noise in my head, and I really wish it would just quieten down for a little while.

H x