Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

13 Reasons Why


Okay, so I will join the great online debate over the book Thirteen Reasons Why, which has led to a television show.  I have read the book, but I have not seen any television episodes.  Most of the online discussions have centered on why people shouldn’t watch the show, how horrible a person Hannah is, how it will only encourage teens to commit suicide, and how it’s just “another mental illness book” that doesn’t actually confront anything.

I read the book when it first came out.  Although the writing wasn’t the best and the plot was contrived, I was glad it was written.  A teenager voicing her feelings and thoughts regarding what led to her suicide.  No, I do not agree with leaving thirteen tapes behind that nit pick and blame other individuals.  Her suicide was her decision.  She had full agency.  No one made her kill herself.

But . . . what the book shows is that suicide is anything but a simple decision resulting from a single bad day.  No, her friends didn’t make her commit suicide, but their behaviors contributed to how she felt.  Imagine if she had been able to voice what she was feeling in an open and honest manner while she was alive.  That’s what we should be focusing on.  This book exposes the truth that people suffer in silence.

You may say that with all the options out there now, there was no reason she had to suffer in silence.  Have you ever been a teenager and known something wasn’t “right” but you had no idea where to go or who to ask or even how to put the idea that something isn’t right into actual words?

Yes, there are options.  More than before.  But they still aren’t easily accessible for youth.  There is still so much judgment concerning mental health and mental health treatment.  So maybe Hannah was cruel in leaving those tapes behind, but she was still suffering and she still felt completely alone.

As a suicide survivor, to pass judgment on Hannah’s character and actions would be hypocritical.  I’ve been her.  I didn’t leave people tapes and letters, even though I had something I wanted to say.  My attempt was my decision; no one else is to blame.

I am grateful I’m here to write this.  Most days.  The chilling nature of Bipolar Disorder is that I know it doesn’t leave.   We have found a treatment that has proven most beneficial, and I have learned a zillion more ways to cope, but I still go through dark spells and I still make mistakes.

As for this book making suicide look trendy–we’re blind if we say that society hasn’t experienced this before.  The Bell Jar;  Girl, Interrupted; and Prozac Nation are the first three books that pop into my mind.  The harsh truth is that teenage suicide existed before, it exists now, and it will continue–even if no one watches this show or reads this book.  Maybe instead of discussing Hannah’s character flaws and how it was unfair of her to do what she did, we should discuss what it is in our  society that creates real-life-Hannahs every single day.  And then maybe we should discuss how we could create a new environment, one with less judgments and less isolation and more forgiveness.


April 20, 2017 Posted by | addictions, bipolar disorder, Body Image, Communication, coping, death, depression, Eating Disorders, family, feelings, guilt, identity, Mental Health Parity, progress, publicity, recovery, relationships, shame, suicide, therapy, trauma, treatment | Leave a comment

Forgiving the Past Lexie

The Mighty just posted a great piece on forgiveness–forgiving yourself for your past.  I sometimes–okay, often–find that it is much easier to forgive others than it is to forgive myself.  I look at my life with this big “What If?” question hanging over everything.  “What if I had never hurt myself?”  “What if I had accepted help when it was first offered?”  “What if I hadn’t been so stubborn?”  “What if I hadn’t been so stupid?”  And if I let myself ruminate on these questions, the names I call myself only get worse.

I wonder where I’d be in life if I had stayed on the straight and narrow path.  Who would I have become?  The problem with these types of questions is that there are no answers for them, only guesses.  We can’t go back and undo all of our errant ways.  Even if some of the bad choices still affect today’s situations and relationships.

I may have forgiven myself, and the time I spend trying to answer hypothetical questions has decreased.  What affects me more is when I run into someone who still expects me to act like that Past Lexie.  Their guard is up when they are near me.  Even after ten years of recovery, my inevitable relapse is only a few days away in their eyes.  And, of course, some don’t allow me in their lives at all.  I want to tell them how much I have changed, how much I have learned, how much I have grown.

What is still difficult is knowing that not everyone from my past will forgive me.  Just as I didn’t listen to everyone who offered me their help, I cannot force people in my life to forgive me or to believe I have changed.

I live in my body with my mind, and that is what I must keep choosing to focus on: how I choose to live in this present moment is the best practice for me and for those around me.  I have learned from my past, but I no longer live there.

April 9, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment