[Played] it Again – 13 Reasons Why Round 2

Now that it’s out in the world and I finished binging it this week, I have some comments about the second season of 13 Reasons Why. I know you have all be anxiously awaiting my thoughts (lol, right), so here they are, live and in stereo.

Get it? Yeah, I thought not.

Anyway, when I watched the first season, I had a lot of thoughts about it. Mostly good ones, I didn’t really mention anything I didn’t like about it other than saying the suicide scene was risky. I stand by it being a bold move, but the producers were very clear about the gravity of the shows content and how graphic this scene was specifically. They did the same, if not more, for this second season.

I was content with the first run of the show. I love the idea of a dozen episode series based on a book because it tells so much more than a stand-alone movie can and there isn’t the opportunity to completely take on new storylines as a multiple-season series can (@ Pretty Little Liars–even though I was loyal all seven years the show ran). So when it was announced that 13 Reasons Why was getting a second season, I was uneasy–I would almost say I was displeased. I wondered why they couldn’t just let a good thing be. This is also how I felt when a Big Little Lies second season was announced, but you can bet your ass I’m going to watch that too.

So I was walking into this season with caution. Hannah’s story was over, so I wondered what would happen for the next round of episodes, and what kind of issues they were going to deal with. Since they had fleshed out the other characters so much, I knew there would be more of their stories and the fallout of the tapes. I can honestly say that what happened this season was not what I expected. Prepare for spoilers.

If I hadn’t read the book, and been so connected to it, I would have really enjoyed this season. Not that I didn’t enjoy it regardless, but I wouldn’t have had the critiques of it that I do now.

I applaud the show for wanting to deal with so many different issues over these thirteen episodes. It delved deeper into the topics of rape, complicity, bullying, addiction, violence, etc that the first season touched on. For the most part, these things were handled well. There were just a few things that I felt needed commenting on.

The biggest thing I tried to figure out was Tyler’s character. His testimony was first, and I thought it showed good insight to his side of his tape. He told his truth, which showed a positive side of Hannah, which the prosecution was trying to hide. I really felt sympathy for his character in the first season, and this season even more so, because he was really the only one (save Bryce and Mr. Porter) who didn’t find solace in the group of people on the tapes. They still ostracized him and pushed him out of importance. The exception is Alex, which I really appreciated, but still no one fought for him.

I was excited when he befriended Cyrus and Mackenzie because it seemed they were helping him deal with feeling outcasted by the others on the tapes. I could see from the beginning that Tyler wasn’t going to have a happy ending this season, partly because of the kinds of ideas Cyrus inadvertently put in his head, and that was rough to watch since I was rooting for him. While the other characters (in the first season, really) had tried to deny the things Hannah said about them and invalidate her reasons, I felt that he took some responsibility. He really changed because of what happened, and he tried to be better. Which ended up with him targeting the school and the system that hurt him.

I understand that his character was the easy target for his kind of development in the season, what with his mental health, the bullying, and his inability to healthily deal with those things. And I know that the producers were setting up something for a potential third season, but I still feel like I can’t get on board with the decision for a school shooting. Tyler had made so much progress when he went away, and I was proud of that. And I understand that Montgomery is one of the worse bullies, but his graphic and disgusting assault of Tyler in the bathroom didn’t feel right to me. I know its purpose: to provoke Tyler and to show just how bad bullying can get, that some people have no remorse. But it didn’t make sense that Tyler would be Montgomery’s target after his conversation with Bryce. Those things don’t add up to me.

That plot device didn’t sit well.

Another thing I didn’t think was the best idea was the constant presence of Hannah to Clay. Yes, I think it’s totally logical for him, who cared about and loved her so much, who still doesn’t know how to process her death, would “see” her. He would talk to her. He would ask her questions. But the strength of her presence and how she would respond to everything as if she was still alive was what I didn’t love. Because she’s not alive anymore, so she can’t give him anything he doesn’t already have. The occasional glimpse, a cryptic answer, sure, but she had more screen time than other characters of whom I think we could have seen more.

Usually, having a “ghost” character can be a great plot device to help another character get over their death or to deal with grief, but in this case I think it just went a tad too far. In the end, it ended up being Skye who gave Clay the tools to move forward, as heard in Clay’s eulogy. Instead of Hannah (though I love Katherine Langford, and thought she was an awesome Hannah), I think we as an audience could have benefited from Skye’s character having a larger presence.

The last thing I had a slight problem with was in the final episode where Jessica and Justin act on their feelings for each other. I think it’s wonderful that Jessica can finally feel comfortable in her body and that she is strong–I love that, I do. I just wish they hadn’t already set up her and Alex as rekindling a relationship. Call me a monogamist (because that’s not incorrect) but I’m all about fidelity in relationships, so I just didn’t like that she validated Alex at the reception at Monet’s, went to dance with him, and then ended up with Justin without even seemingly thinking about Alex. It rubbed me the wrong way a bit. But again, proud of Jessica’s character for taking that part of her back.

Other than those things, I did like the show. I thought it handled so many of the subjects accurately and well. I loved Chlöe’s character and how frustrating she was because I saw truth in it. Jessica’s process of coping with her rape was strong and well portrayed. Miles Heizer played Alex’s intense and heartbreaking pain beautifully. Mr. Porter’s one-eighty was wonderful to watch: his attempt to right wrongs and his admittance of his fault.

Watching the season, I was uneasy about it, about whether or not I liked it. To be completely honest, throughout my binge, I was bordering on displeased. But after finishing it and reflecting on it, I did actually enjoy it for the most part. I had bigger issues with this season than the one prior, and I’m not totally stoked on the fact that there will probably be another season, but I do think it was well done. I think the writers and producers worked hard to create a cohesive set of story strands and it was a success.

As for those commenting on the glorification of these topics, I have to disagree to an extent. Yes it was graphic, yes it was intense, yes it was triggering, but I stand by the idea that you cannot tell an accurate story without being unapologetically honest. Without being graphic. Because then it’s not the truth–or as close to the truth as a TV show can get. It’s how I felt watching To the Bone, which showed some very triggering scenes. If you really want to start a conversation and bring these darker subjects to light, you can’t sugarcoat them.

If it is going to trigger you, then do not watch it–I promise you, the creators and producers will not take offense.

And that’s all I have to say about that, I guess. For now.

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Taxi

I’ve been having a good quarter so far. I’m stressed about classes, as always, but it’s not such crippling stress. Maybe in a few weeks it will be, but right now it seems okay. After last quarter, pretty much anything seems better. But I guess that’s where this post takes a turn.

I was going through a bunch of my clothes and whatnot this past weekend, and I found one of my notebooks from last year. Tucked into the pocket was just an old piece of paper with the lyrics to my favorite song by The Maine, “Taxi.” Underneath it, I wrote a little journal entry. And it really got to me.

 In the backseat of the taxi, when you told me we were only two punch-drunk souls all tangled in the wind. And in the backseat, when you asked me, “Is the sadness everlasting?” I pulled you closer, looked at you, and said, “Love, I think it is.”

Sometimes I hate myself still. Sometimes I wake up in the morning, and I can’t get out of bed. The weight of the world feels heavy on my chest. I wonder why, when so many good things are happening in my life, I can still feel this way. I ask myself “Is the sadness everlasting?” And considering how far I’ve come in life but still think I haven’t moved at all, I think it could very well be. It’s not constant, but it’s always [Somehow, this makes sense to me…]. I don’t know if I ever don’t feel vulnerable to Depression, to Anxiety, to Darkness.

I’m on the run. Maybe that’s why I’m always tired. This marathon is endless, like the sadness. It’s always chasing me to get me back in its grasp. Most of the time, I’m strong enough to stay ahead, but sometimes I’m tired and I need to slow down. That can be enough for it to take me–get a little hold on me. So far I’ve been able to pick up speed and get away again.

Maybe it’s not the sadness that’s everlasting, maybe it’s just the feeling, the running. The constant battle. The ups and downs. Not the sadness, but the ebbs and flows of my relationship with the sadness.

This is how the Darkness crept up on me. I don’t even remember writing this. “Taxi” has had such a huge impact on me. I could listen to it forever, and every time I hear it, I can’t help but sing it as loud as I possibly can.

That doesn’t mean it doesn’t bring out some not so great emotions in me. But it’s helped me accept that the Darkness will come up on me sometimes. I wish it didn’t, but as I learned last quarter, I can’t ignore it. Because when I ignore it, it completely ambushes me and crashes down ten times harder.

I’m only in the third week of this quarter, and so far, I’ve been doing okay. I have a big presentation on Thursday, and I’m sort of freaking out about it. Public speaking is not my best skill, by any means. And I’ve been powering through my online class work, but I’m still afraid I won’t finish on time. I’ve applied for quite a few jobs, but I haven’t heard back from any of them except one solid no. I don’t know what I’m going to do after college. While that’s no different from a lot of people right now, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t stress me out any less.

So I’m good, but I’m also freaking out on the down-low.

Finding the journal entry…it made me feel kind of weird. I didn’t realize how sad I was before last quarter’s crisis. I thought I had such a handle on Depression. It’s such a back and forth that maybe I’ll never have a solid grip on it. I only have to work with said back and forth.

Maybe that’s okay?

I don’t know. I’m not sure. I guess I just have to keep trying to figure it out. I have a good support system and a solid Netflix account, and that will have to do for now.

Because so much is going on lately that’s completely out of my control, and it’s hard not to get pissed off about it. In fact, it’s incredibly easy to be enraged. And because that’s easier than trying to find the positives of this terrible situation, I let myself get angry. I let it bubble in me and then I burst. I don’t like that about myself, but…but it’s nice to feel something that isn’t toxic sadness. With this anger, I feel like I have a purpose. I feel like maybe I can control it. I couldn’t stop what got us into this mess (which I won’t elaborate on), but I feel like I need to step up to try and get us out of it. To still make the best of the time I have left.

But big spurts of emotion exhaust me…so it’s a seemingly endless cycle of force and falter. See? So much back and forth!

There are so many thoughts running rampant in my head, and I think I just need to go to sleep to filter everything out. I’ve read that loose piece of paper quite a few times in the last couple of days, and every time…every time I just have to sit and process it. I’m having a hard time with that right now. In this moment. Probably because I’m feeling so many things, from rage to restlessness, to a sort of ease (more of a numbed anxiety, actually).

I’m not even sure I know what I’m talking about anymore.

Maybe I just need to let go of the anger tonight. I can’t do anything about it right this second. I need to collect my thoughts.

Things are okay, but as always, I see dark clouds on the horizon. Whether or not they are floating in my direction, I don’t know yet. I’ll fend them off as long as I can. I’ll be better about my anger. I’ll listen to “Taxi” about ten more times tonight.

I’ll get through this. I always do.

Beautiful

So there’s a part of my life that I’ve been subconsciously neglecting, and I can’t be sure as to why. I’m not bothered by it, but I think I should still talk about it because last week it was incredibly relevant.

Last week was National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. For quite a few years, this week was incredibly important to me because I struggled so hard with my eating disorder, even when I thought I had it under control. Sometimes I still question whether I had an eating disorder at all. I constantly have to remind myself that it’s a mental illness and isn’t the physical appearance part of it. Reading about the struggles and transformations of others really gave me a sense of belonging, and I am thankful that a week like this exists. Awareness for this illness is so glossed over, but it is extremely relevant in this day and age of fitness and fad diets and social media.

Regardless of my story, this week is significant to so many men and women in the world. This illness is toxic and terrible, and it hurts so many incredible people. All I want in life is for every single person to be happy with their bodies and to treat them well–that’s far easier said than done, but I can still hope for it, right?

So many people hide their stories because of the stigma against mental illness, and that shouldn’t be the case. I was open about my struggles on this blog, but I also didn’t tell anyone about it for a long time. This was a place to tell my story without having any potential consequences from my real life. And I think that it’s wonderful for people who are struggling to have an outlet to share their thoughts and feelings. NEDA Week is an opportunity to for these people to open up about their stories. And it’s also an opportunity for those unable to share (for whatever reason) to see that they are not alone in this. Knowing you’re not alone is one of the most important parts of recovery.

Sometimes I still struggle with disordered thoughts and worrying too much about my body, but I feel so much stronger. And maybe that’s why I sort of failed to give an update on this topic. It would feel a bit hypocritical to not say anything at all.

Quite simply, I would like to send my love for those in recovery from any and all eating disorders, as well as those who are still neck deep and need just some love and support. I have a lot of encouragement from my friends and family, and that really makes a difference. So if a kind stranger can give you the love and positivity you might need just to get through the day, let me be that stranger.

I’m keeping this post short and sweet, but I’m always open for conversation about anything I’ve talked about on the blog. Throwing my good thoughts out there for all of you. You can do this. You are strong.

And in case you forget about that, watch this gem of a video!

-Ash

Dear Future Employers…

Dear Future Employers,

I have a mental illness.

It’s powerful and draining, and it’s been with me for more than half of my life. I have days where I feel like I’m going to crumble, and everything is going to come crashing down on me at any moment. My heart pounds constantly from my anxiety, and if you look at me and my eyes are red, it probably means that I might cry. There are times when all I want to do is stay in bed. The world is a heavy place, and it doesn’t need one more burden on it.

Because I can be a burden. Nobody wants to be around someone they have to carry around mentally and emotionally. These are the days it takes me the longest to get up. I don’t know how to get up.

Sometimes I feel sick to my stomach for no reason at all. I’m just nauseated and my body hurts. It feels like there’s a hole that’s sucking out my insides. It’s painful and draining. I want to snap at people for the simplest things. I want to be alone. I can’t take being in the real world, and I need to get away to my own world. Silence. Darkness. Isolation.

But I am strong. So, so strong. I don’t crumble when I feel like I might. I let my heart pound and my eyes sting, but I don’t cry and I don’t panic. I get out of bed every day, regardless of how I feel. I get up, and I face the day head-on. Unless I’m going to the library or the gym, I put effort into the way I look.

I am strong. I’m never late–even when I stay in bed a bit too long. I will always be there. I don’t need to be carried by anyone else, I hold myself up. On my own and well.

I am strong. Even when I feel sick, I keep going. I keep moving forward. The hole in my insides doesn’t stand a chance. I hype myself up to stop the draining feeling. I don’t snap at people. I keep any Bad Thoughts to myself. Nobody is the wiser.

I am strong. I am smart and capable. I am a good student. I (would like to think I) am a good friend. I work hard to be a positive person even though my mind is against me sometimes. I am a reliable person, and I will always be wherever I’m needed. I try to bring light to every room I walk in, and I want every person I meet to feel strong and welcome. I am more powerful than my mental illness. And because of that, I can do anything.

Depression and anxiety are a part of me, but they don’t control me. I don’t let them. They hurt me, and they hurt my relationships and my confidence and my body. But I will never stop fighting them. I have learned to overcome these hardships in my life, and I know how to deal with these things that once seemed so vital to who I am.

So my Future Employers, if you’ve read this blog and you’ve read my story, don’t let my mental illness scare you. It doesn’t scare me. I’m not a flight risk, I’m not crazy, and I’m not going to cause you problems. Remember my strength and my heart and my ability to overcome obstacles.

I am not my mental illness. It does not own me. It never will.

Sincerely, Future Employee

Battleships

Life continues to surprise me lately, and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that. This quarter has had my emotions all over the place, and I’m still struggling grade-wise in a class I spend more time preparing for than my other three classes combined. I took a midterm an hour ago about Plato’s philosophy of the soul, and registered for classes right before that. I may only need two more classes to graduate (eeep!!) but does that make me any less anxious to press that green “enroll” button? Not a chance.

It gets worse. My tire blew out on the freeway in more or less the middle of nowhere Tuesday morning so I missed a class I had a group project in. And completely ruined my tire–torn and ripped up. In a car as old and rickety as mine, it’s always stressful to drive long distances. I’m careful, though. Maybe I wasn’t careful enough this time because I was only an hour from being home when I started to completely and almost uncontrollably drift into the other lane. Luckily no one was around me, so I got over to the shoulder safely, but I couldn’t help but completely burst into tears. It was terrible. I called my dad and AAA, texted my group about the dilemma, and emailed my professor nearly begging not to get participation points off–of course, this is the class I’m doing poorly in. I did make it home, only a half hour after class started, so I planned on going for the remainder to be there with my group, but as soon as I walked out the door, my group members told me they were going up to present that moment, so I walked back inside and laid down. We had already filmed the video anyway, so it wasn’t like I needed to be there. I wanted to see what everyone else had worked on, but I was constantly on the verge of tears and I really just needed to curl up in my bed.

And I’m depressed again, so there’s that.

But this week turning out to be a seven-day weekend (since my Wednesday class didn’t meet, we had an online assignment instead) was one of the best things for me. I really needed that time to just be. Of course, I did homework and I studied, but it was still very relaxing.

I got to spend the whole weekend with Matthew, and since he also got Monday off, we got an extra day together. An extra twenty-four hours of snuggles, yummy tea, and New Girl (I’m determined to get him to like all my favorite shows). Even though it was freezing in his apartment, it was still such a nice time. We went mini golfing (where I was only a sore loser because he got a hole-in-one on all three volcano holes!!!!!!!) and spent probably too much time in Goodwill. I got a cute blazer and a few t-shirts out of it, though, and Matthew purchased his new favorite item: a puffy vest. He didn’t take it off the whole rest of the weekend–it was pretty funny.

Other than the big hiccup with my car, Friday through Wednesday was wonderful. Today was harder. A philosophy midterm and registration did not bode well for my anxiety, and I felt stressed out all day. All evening, I have been feeling like I’m about to cry–for no other reason than it was a taxing day. Funny that I’ll be doing my taxes with my dad this weekend? Eh, bad joke.

I got all the classes I needed and wanted, and I think I did decently enough on my midterm, but my heart still pounds and my stomach still churns. I have anxiety whenever I think about getting in my car. I worry about speaking up in my writing class–even though that’s something I hope I am good at. The words in my philosophy readings get all jumbled up and lose all their meaning. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night in a sweat because I think about one bad thing that has happened. Over the weekend, I couldn’t fall asleep at Matthew’s because I forgot my outfit for our video presentation (to film a few more scenes) and I had to figure out a way to make something else work–a cut up plain black shirt from Goodwill did it pretty well. I wake up at 3 am with thoughts about my homework for the next day or for classes I took years ago or conversations I’ll never have.

No matter how many things are going right in my life, there’s something in my head to make all those things wrong. It’s been pretty hard to balance things out. I have a good support system, though, and that helps. My friends have really been there for me about this lately, and I’m very grateful. Matthew is always encouraging about what I’m doing, even if it’s just homework. I called my dad yesterday and he raved about my writing to me (and said he has new music recommendations!). It’s all great, it really is. It’s also just hard.

But I think I might finally start seeing a therapist. I’ve thought about it in the past, seriously and not. I always thought it made me feel like I was weak in some way, that I was stronger fighting on my own. But I can admit now that asking for help is the hardest part and it makes you strong. It’s okay to ask for it. And if it’s going to help me, then I have to try.

I’m having a lot of ups and downs, to say the least.

But my dad is visiting this weekend, and I’m very excited! It should be a fun time–even though we’re doing taxes and getting new tires and replacing my air filter. We’re also doing happy hour and having a nice dinner and doing other fun things. Life is really hard right now, but I’m still making the best of it. At least, I’m trying to.

Thanks for listening.

Ash