13 REASONS WHY needs to be watched/read: From the viewpoint of a Suicide Survivor

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The vast majority of what I write on my main website, Artistic Bent is dedicated to showcasing the talents of others but I decided to start Physiux in order to showcase my own voice.

When I found out Netflix was releasing a miniseries based on the novel 13 Reasons Why I decided to read the book first. It’s an odd habit of mine to want to read the book before seeing the movie or TV show but I like to see what the author originally intended so I can form my first opinion on that rather than base it on someone else’s view of the work.

After reading the book I wasn’t sure I would watch the Netflix version because getting through the book was difficult enough. My problem with the story wasn’t that Jay Asher wrote a bad book, it was that I emphasized too much with Hannah. Asher’s writing was so well done I had to often remind myself he wasn’t writing about me – this was fiction.

The thing is though Asher could have been writing about me, and many others from the world of reality, because I’m a suicide survivor.

I dealt with bullying through the vast majority of my education and even into my Freshman year of college. I never fit, even within my own family. I was the wrong everything. By the time I graduated high school I had attempted suicide by pills so many times my liver and kidneys never quite recovered.

Things came to a head when I was a senior in high school. One night I wrote out a note apologizing for not being strong enough and explained I could not handle it anymore being told in a variety of ways I was a loser and worse. I took a knife from our kitchen and hid it under my pillow intending to wait until everyone was asleep. I didn’t go through with it because all I could think about was what it would do to my younger brother and sister if they found me that way. Despite the fact that I had been conditioned at this point by many people to believe I was worthless trash I loved my siblings and the only thing stronger than my pain was a desire to protect them; even though I sucked at it.

I continued to struggle for a few years, bouncing around the world as I tried to find my place, a place where I felt safe and could breathe. Eventually I met someone who I thought could save me because I had never gained more strength than the little I found that night thinking about my siblings who didn’t need me anymore now that we were all adults; I never believed I could save myself.

When there has been years of consistent abuse/bullying, whatever form that takes, it leaves permanent damage that will open wounds at the most unexpected times. Those feelings of suicide will follow you into adulthood if you’re lucky enough to survive your teen years.

Unfortunately that relationship didn’t turn out to be the piece that would save me. Things worsened so much more than I ever thought possible that I finally broke in a way that not even God could fix. I tried telling people, I tried expressing my fear, my loneliness, the soul splitting pain I was in but all anyone seemed to think was that I was lying, being ‘dramatic’, trying to get attention, etc. No one believed I was dying right before their eyes because according to everyone I had no right to be.

What they saw was a person with a husband who everyone loved and thought was the American version of Prince William. A person with a house, a car, a good job, attending college and had family who was still financially supporting them. A person who had travelled around the world and seemingly lacked for nothing. I had nothing to be in pain over, at least nothing anyone would believe when I tried telling them, even when I had proof that my life wasn’t picture perfect.

A little over ten years ago I downed a bottle of pills at the house I had lived in with my then husband, said goodbye to my toddler son who I had been told until I believed would be better off without me around to ruin his life then I left to die in peace. I got a bottle of Irish Whisky and turned on The Commitments, an Irish movie, and played through my memories of growing up in Irish pubs surrounded by people who were culturally just like me. The last and only time I had ever felt safe. The only reason I didn’t die, despite having tens of thousands of milligrams of Wellbutrin in my system, is because a cousin got worried and called emergency services who found me in time.

There are obviously a lot of holes in my story about what would be my “13 Reason Why” because unlike Asher’s creation my life isn’t fiction so I’m not going to list the people and what they did or didn’t do that ultimately helped shape my path until I ended up with enough Wellbutrin in my system to kill a horse.

Today, my life is vastly different. I still struggle, sometimes daily, with the feelings of fear and pain that were cultivated from YEARS of being told in a variety of ways by many people I was trash ruining their lives just by existing. I still struggle with knowing that even if other people don’t believe I have a right to certain feelings that doesn’t make them less valid. I’ve also learned that even when it feels like you are completely alone there is at least one person who sees you and will extend a hand. For me, that turned out to be someone else who was also hurting and being ignored by everyone in his life. He became my friend, my best friend, at a time I felt lost and needed a lighthouse to guide me out of the storm.

I have learned that it is foolish to play the What If game and wonder what my life could be like now if only one person had stepped in earlier to say they could hear my screams in the crowd and they wanted to help. All I can do is in the future learn where to find that person who can hear me when I say I need help rather than wait for them to find me. Thanks to my current husband, I know there is always at least one person who can turn the light on and show you the safer path.

I did end up watching the Netflix series and found it much harder than the book. I had dealt with nearly all the same issues Hannah had and more between my pre-teen to young adult years including things that continue to affect my relationship with my extremely patient husband to this day.

I think it is important for people to watch this and read the book, although for the younger set I would recommend skipping the rape scenes. Kids today deal with these issues so much more than even I did and they nearly destroyed my life; at some point we need to say enough is enough. If you don’t get a handle on it when they are kids then they turn into adults who bully and abuse – I promise you that from personal experience.

For anyone who reads this and thinks that suicide is a glamorous way to go, trust me it’s not. It’s painful, ugly, lonely and absolutely terrifying in a way that even Stephen King or Wes Craven couldn’t capture. Worst of all you have given those who hurt you the ultimate power by taking yours away permanently. As a suicide survivor I can tell you it will get better, it won’t be easy, and it won’t happen overnight but one day you will look back and feel incredibly glad you chose differently.

You are not alone …

Image from: http://www.penguinteen.com/13-books-to-read-after-you-finish-13-reasons-why/

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