This post is coming a week late. I forgot last week was Mental Health Awareness Week. It’s all good though because I’m going to talk about the Netflix TV series, 13 Reasons Why and how this show has impacted my own mental health.
I have gotten very good at managing my triggers in the last few years. When I was first diagnosed with PTSD, I had no idea what triggers were, let alone how to manage them within myself and the every day world. Watching the first season of 13 Reasons Why didn’t set me backwards. I didn’t have flashbacks or nightmares.
Watching season 2 of 13 Reasons Why was much like the first season. But this show didn’t so much trigger me as a survivor but as a parent. I’m going to talk more about that in my YouTube video that I will release later in the week but because the content of the show is so dark, I wanted to write a little bit about it in the context of Mental Health Awareness Week.
Why I like the show:
Topics brought up in 13 Reasons Why are very real in the world we live in today. I don’t believe in ignoring the issue and hoping that it goes away. I like that the show is bringing these topics to the fore front and even if you don’t like the series, you are still talking about it.
This is very important. We HAVE to talk about what is going on with our children today. It’s not just about what is happening at home. A kid could have the perfect home life and still want to die because of bullying at school. Which brings me to the next major theme in the show and a huge taboo topic.
Suicide is a major problem for our young people. We don’t like talking about it and as a parent we don’t want to even entertain the notion that our children are thinking about it. I think the show does an amazing job of tackling this issue that doesn’t exploit it. Yet there are people who think the exact opposite.
Rape is another huge topic and this is the one that can still trigger me but not in the way that it used to. I thought the first season was brutal in the rape scene. I had a moment of intense thoughts that plagued my mind but it was a scene at the end of season two that I have felt the most triggered.
The Downside to 13 Reasons Why:
This time a male student gets raped in the high school bathroom. While the scene itself was brutal, as soon as I realized what was about to happen, I walked out of the room. This is something I have to do sometimes to keep from getting triggered. I just couldn’t watch it. I couldn’t hear it.
Maybe it’s because I did that, that I didn’t experience a trigger. Or, more to the point, I managed it. I knew what I could handle and what I couldn’t and dealt with it accordingly. However, it was the scene that came after that triggered me. The scene where his mother asks him if he had a good first day back at school.
This was the scene that hit home to me because I ask my boys this question every day when they come home. The boy completely changes his body language and the tone in his voice to sound like he did have a good day. The mom, who was prepared to hear him say no, instantly cheers up and walks over to her son and gives him a hug.
This entire scene broke my heart. Not just as a survivor but as a parent. His mother had no idea what had happened. That was the scariest part for me as a parent. Rape is filled with shame. So much shame and guilt overtakes the mind. It isolates people and keeps them from getting the help they need.
As parents, we want nothing more than to protect our kids. We want to help them deal with any pain that may come their way. But children, and especially teens, don’t always know how to articulate their emotions, nor do they always know that they can say something even when they don’t know how.
So yes, this scene triggered me more than any other scene in the show.
I talked with my boys. Both of them. While I didn’t go into details about the show because it’s just not appropriate, I let them know about bullying at school and that I always want them to come to me, no matter what. It’s such a scary thing though when your children reach a point in their lives where they might feel they CAN’T talk to you. That is absolutely terrifying.
So as a parent, even if you’re not sure, just reach out to your kids. Every now and then take the time to let them know you’re there for them. It might not do anything for them. But then again, it might. It might just be the one thing they need to hear in that moment. The one thing that encourages them to speak up. Either way, never stop reaching out.
Thanks for reading!
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