Yeah, I know, it’s another mental health related post. I get it. Maybe that’s what you guys are thinking, or maybe that’s just my misconception and just my worries talking because let’s face it for the umpteenth time: I have some severe anxiety.
Not everyone in my life knows this, but there are some who know my anxiety to the exact extent. I guess what I’m trying to say to you (and to myself ) that I shouldn’t care if I’m sharing too much about myself or too much about my anxiety; this is a very important part of my life and it’s a very real part as I’m trying to deal with it, and life that continues to go on around me.
I should’ve saved this topic as a voiceless rant, but let’s save that post for something more positive and upbeat…
Anyway, things with me personally haven’t been the greatest. I’ve gotten into arguments with those around me, I’m anxious way more than I used to be, and my mental health seems to be taking a detour from the road to recovery. The journey has not been easy for me.
Before I started to get more in deep with therapy, I had a conversation with my mother about the potential use of medication to help ease with my anxiety. Already having a family member on medication for their own personal reasons, I’ve singlehandedly saw how life was before and after the medication for this person. In my opinion, it hasn’t been that bad. I’ve seen improvements here and there and to a certain degree, I see this person being a lot stronger than I am since starting. Again, I could be completely wrong, but on the outside, I saw a difference. But I brought up this situation with my mother telling her the opposite: I didn’t want to take medication for my anxiety.
I wanted to write this post because I believe this affects a lot of people in our generation; not just those who suffer from anxiety disorders. I’ve recently been watching a lot of people online and in my neighborhood discuss various things that have happened within the last month, and these things have been happening since the year started, to be honest. We could all pretty much admit that the first major thing in the year that had everyone’s eyes wide open was the mass shooting that killed 17 people in Parkland, Florida at Stoneman Douglas High School back in February. Since then, things have piled on top of each other since then. The latest event that has everyone in complete shock is the fact that a four-year-old girl got ran over by a car who didn’t even think twice to turning back to see what they had hit, while the mother of the child was simply tieing her shoe. Also, it’s been said that the person who ran over the kid has a family member who is in authority, and threatened the mother to call ICE on her if she pressed charges. Whether it is true or not, it’s still a goddamn scenario that could easily be played out.
One thing that hit close to home was of the incident that happened in The Bronx on June 15th. Fifteen-year-old Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz was brutally murdered in front of a bodega by a group of guys with a machete and left him on the sidewalk to die. This 15-year-old kid got himself up, ran down the back where the hospital was, and died inched away from the hospital. On top of that, the entire thing was recorded on cameras outside of the bodega with people passing by, looking at these guys drag this boy outside on the sidewalk. It’s disgusting, and extremely triggering to anyone.
What sickens me the most about these type of news events is that there is always a video of the violence happening on camera. There are two videos of two different children getting killed all over the internet, and nobody is looking away.
The news culture has become a place of the grotesque; it’s now a game of “who can report the most gruesome events of the day faster“. We see people getting shot and murdered in videos, we see people getting stabbed to death in videos, and I guess we reached a new low: watching children get killed.
As a person who constantly thinks of the “what-if” scenarios on a day-to-day basis, these type of things are extremely triggering to my well-being. Those kids in that high-school shooting didn’t know their Valentine’s Day was going to end up the way it did. Junior did not think he wasn’t going to see the next day when dropping off bus fare to a friend down the block from where he lives. That mother did not know she was going to lose her child when she put the laundry together and took her to do laundry with her. These people did not know their last days would be like the way they ended up being, and I know I am not any different. Events like this make people not want to send their children to public schools because they’re afraid that their child isn’t going to return home from school at 3pm and instead receive a phone call from the police asking to identify a child they found dead. In all honesty, people are more afraid to go out to fun events (especially after the Manchester shooting in England after Ariana Grande’s concert) because these fun events could come with a price of your life. I’m not saying things like this haven’t happened in the past, I honestly believe it’s the way news outlets report these type of things.
Let’s take the Boston Marathon bombers in 2013 for instance:
After reporting the Boston Marathon news for almost a week, most news outlets interrupted their regular programming to report live at a literal hide and seek game between the bombers and the SWAT team. They tracked the guys down and followed them, found them, surrounded them, and killed one of them in an entire day. It was literally like watching a scene from an action movie. To this day, I never understood why it was necessary to report minute by minute on a tragedy that affected hundreds and their families. Yeah, it’s news (and important news) at that, but showing such triggering an unsettling footage isn’t “letting the news be known”. It’s (to an extent) glorifying the event. It’s why so many recent mass shooters who stay alive after the incidents claim they are inspired by past mass shooters who had their name known for weeks on end and now for the rest of everyone’s lives.
Our news culture is extremely unhealthy for everyone, especially those who suffer from constant thoughts of these worst-case scenarios actually happening.
I’ve been terrified to go to certain places in my life because of the stories I hear and see on a day-to-day basis. I avoid certain areas in my own borough in NYC because of all the crazy and violent things that I hear happening there. While there are people who are able to watch these kinds of things and still live on with their lives, there are people who live in fear because of them, and it causes us to develop conditions that you wouldn’t even think of happening a couple of years ago.
I mean, I was told that I could be a possible agoraphobic.
Now, I’m not saying that you should be oblivious to the outside world and not care what goes on; that just shows your ignorance and avoidance to some really serious issues going on in the world. Plus, it’s impossible to avoid the news in this day and age where the news is on every platform and screen you interact with. Sadly, it’s something you can’t just avoid and to all intensive purposes, you shouldn’t.
What I’m saying is that if you deal with constant thoughts of worst-case scenarios and you function the way you do because of these scenarios, take some time to breathe and recollect yourself. You don’t have to read pages and pages of breaking news. You don’t need to watch these videos of the violence on every social platform. You don’t need to know, hear, and see everything about a very triggering event, and that’s completely okay. Knowing every little detail and having knowledge about an event are two different things. Inform yourself, don’t harm yourself.
As to those who still get very affected by these events and don’t live with these “what-if” scenarios constantly on your mind, just turning away from the media once in awhile is good for your mental health. Take time for yourself during these moments of negativity. Also, know that you can’t live your life completely avoiding the world, and we as people can only hope that we are able to live on to see our dreams and futures potentially playing out in reality.
It’s that time of the month where I get to write my favorite posts on the blog:
June has been a crazy month. It’s been a month of trying to relax and trying to give myself a break, but alas: most of the time I was all over the place. One consistent thing that happened in June was really me just going to therapy once a week and talking about these same feelings (its why a lot of my recent posts are so mental-health related, and surprise, this one is too.)
Since I started therapy, I’ve become a lot more self-aware of my behavior and the way I’ve been feeling. Slowly but surely I am trying to get some control back into my life from my anxiety, I’m trying to feel better after not doing so for a year now, and yes, I’m even trying to get a better understanding of the behaviors I’m not aware of because they are second nature to me.
Therapy sorta taught me that everything happens for a reason, even if that reason is simply “because it just got worse.” I always thought something major and big had to happen in order for me to feel the way that I do, and to a certain point, there was, it just didn’t happen within the last 6 months.
Sometimes, you get “worse” because you’ve been on a downward spiral for years without even knowing it. So, how do you expect those around you to understand what happened all of a sudden?
Recently, I had a discussion with my therapist about something extremely personal that I haven’t spoken about with anyone besides my family and my partner. Sharing it with a person who I’ve only known for a month was scary but when I did, it seemed like things started to connect. Despite being anxious in social situations and with other people, I tend to become extremely anxious in confrontations, arguments, fights, disagreements; whatever it may be, I’m always on edge. I mean, everyone feels this way, it’s normal, but when you instantly feel your heart sink to your stomach, don’t remember what you’re saying, and feel like you want to give up on yourself and on life, then it’s not normal. It’s now a trigger.
Although it coexists with my social anxiety, triggers are most likely linked to trauma. Of course, people assume that trauma is only considered when something horrendous happens to a person like having an almost death experience, you fought in a war, you were sexually assaulted, you were held hostage/kidnapped, things that people will excuse your behavior for because of those things being traumatizing to society.
But what about the things that some people can move forward from, but others can’t? Like bullying? Drug/Alcohol abuse in the household? Losing close people in your life due to fights and arguments? Some of these things are extremely traumatic to some people to the point where whenever they are put into situations similar to these events, they completely shut down. Unable to move. Unable to speak up for themselves. They just sit there and hope that the moment passes as quickly as possible. And when those same people get into the same situations over and over again, they don’t remember how it happened in the past; they just remember going into protective mode and don’t see what actually is happening. That’s called being dissociated. That’s called being traumatized to the point where you don’t have control over your body anymore. That’s called knowing what to do but can’t because you feel like it’s not your body anymore.
Ladies and gentlemen, that’s called dissociative amnesia and it’s a scary fucking thing to experience.
I won’t get too deep into it because that’s not what I am seeking therapy for and I’m not fully aware of its symptoms and causes and all that jazz. I’m mentioning it because you have to understand those around you. You have to understand that the people in your group of friends all have stories and secrets that they are burying and that are trying to move past them to live better lives.
Most importantly, you have to understand that people are the way they are for a reason, whether or not you personally know that reason. Whether you’re battling with a mental disorder or not, you are responsible as a friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, sibling, parent, classmate, whoever you may be at a certain time, for being respectful and present and understanding to a certain degree.
Personally, I want people to understand that yeah, I’m very successful with my education and yes, I have many passions and talents and I am generally a happy, bubbly person. What that doesn’t mean is that I don’t hurt, I don’t get sad, I don’t feel negative things, and that I don’t deal with triggers on a day-to-day basis. Call it sensitive, but you truly don’t know what you’re doing to a person when you aren’t aware (and don’t care to be aware) of a person’s internal battles with themselves.
This post may be all over the place, but I truly wanted to write this because I am tired of shutting down. I am tired of looking at myself and knowing what to do in situations yet I’m not moving or speaking up. I am tired of being easily triggered by other human beings in negative situations. I am tired of being misunderstood, mislabeled, and looked at as another person who is just always in their feelings and with issues.
You are hurting the people around you when you do that, and the only time people like you will care and finally listen up is when it’s too late, and they aren’t physically here anymore.
In the recent weeks, I’ve been on this new path to bettering my mental health now that I don’t have much distraction in my life. For the past year, I’ve been noticing this “downward spiral” of anxiety that kept creeping up on me, and it wasn’t until the past couple of months that I began noticing my anxiety get worse. I finally started to seek out professional help to find ways to overcome this newfound anxiety… well, anxiety that I always had but just recently became out of hand.
In a couple of posts before this one, I mentioned that I got diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. In a way, it’s an umbrella term that describes a whole variety of different fears and phobias. When I went to see my psychiatrist for the first time, she ultimately deemed me as having Social Anxiety Disorder. At that point, I went to do some further research on it, and might I tell you, it explains a lot more of my anxiety than I ever thought it would. To be more exact, social anxiety is more than just being “shy” or quiet” in social situations. It’s the incapability to not go out or interact with other people because you get anxious doing it, even with the closest people in your life.
Honestly, it explained a lot of the questions I had in why I was behaving in the way that I was.
Just like depression, anxiety is always misinterpreted as something else that people think is easily curable. People who don’t have SAD may find themselves wanting to stay in instead of going out for reasons that are actual reasons: they are busy, they are tired, or maybe they are just not up for it. People with SAD find themselves staying in because they are already thinking about the hours in advance, worrying that something bad might happen for they might get an anxiety attack in the middle of a social event, even if it’s with your closest friends or even your significant other. People with SAD tend to stay in because it’s more comfortable and safe to be by themselves instead of around other people.
Please understand that Social Anxiety Disorder is more than just being shy and quiet and “socially awkward”. It’s a chronic illness that can be treatable, but it doesn’t go away on its own. Plus, only 5% of the U.S population is actually diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder, yet its considered the most common anxiety disorder because so many people who live with it are not diagnosed. The reason for that being is even people with SAD feel like it’s such a ridiculous thing to have and our behavior is ridiculous that we often feel ashamed for being this way.
And extroverts, your introverted friends who may have SAD may feel discouraged because of you.
We are not asking you to be our therapists. We are not asking you to constantly ask us if we are okay if we are out for dinner or at a party. We are not asking you to speak for us in social situations (unless requested) and most importantly, we are not asking you for your unsolicited advice on how to “get over it” in order to live like a “normal” person.
We are asking you to be supportive of us. We are asking you to at least understand the words that come out of our mouths. We are asking you to be okay with the fact that yeah, maybe four months ago we were okay going to that restaurant across the city, but our anxiety has gotten worse since then and the travel to get to that restaurant is a lot of us to handle. We are asking you to be informative on what we had at least at the basic level. No, we are not asking you to know every little thing to do when faced with someone with SAD, we are asking you to at least know what we are going through when we are feeling anxious, and that we are constantly fighting to try to overcome such ridiculous feelings and worries about something that is supposed to be fun. We are asking you to not change who you are to us and change the friendship, we simply just want to feel as if you have our backs while we deal with it. You’re saving us a lot of worries if we absolutely know you will not judge or belittle us for not being able to control our behavior and emotions.
THIS DOES NOT MEAN that you are doing us a favor when you don’t invite us to hang out or to important events in your life just because you think you are doing us a favor or if you think we are going to always decline on your invites. People with SAD are not happy when we don’t have to face social interactions or situations; we hate that or anxiety holds us back from having a good time. In most cases, we want to actually go out and have fun; what human being doesn’t? We want to go out to birthday parties, we want to be around other people and hang out, we want to have a good time in the same way you want to, the difference is our body and our mind circulates the “what if” questions to the point where they will only stop if we don’t go. If you are our friends, we want to feel like you are our friends, so even if we do decline an invitation time to time, know that we appreciate you still are thinking about us.
All in all, we appreciate you and are very thankful to have you in our lives. You balance us out and we look up to you for being so outgoing and unapologetic for being who you are. As different we may be, we are able to connect with you for the qualities that you have, and although you may not understand how we feel about dealing with SAD, we understand that you try your best to be present and available for us while going through something so weird and confusing like SAD.
We value your friendship more than you ever know, even if we have a difficult time showing it. We value your presence in our lives.
This “monthly favorites” is going to be quite short; I didn’t really have the time to explore new things or pick up some new hobbies during the month of May, but a lot of exciting things did happen!
So without further ado, here are some things that happened/I enjoyed in the month of May:
In a world where K-Pop boy band BTS is winning the hearts of millions all over, I found myself obsessing over a K-Pop girl group, which they call themselves Twice. Twice was formed through a survival show competition entitled Sixteen where 16 female JYP trainees were fighting for the 7 spots of JYP Entertainment’s new girl group. JYP is known for forming groups such as GOT7, 2PM, Miss A, and The Wonder Girls. After deciding to make the group 9 members, the official Twice members (according to the order on the photo) are Tzuyu, Jeongyeon, Sana, Jihyo, Nayeon, Chaeyoung, Dahyun, Mina, and Momo. I first heard of the group actually once while in the laundromat in my neighborhood, and the music video (as well as the song) were both very catchy, and I decided to look further into them. When I tell you that their fanbase is massive… it’s insane. Although they aren’t as mainstream in the U.S. as BTS, Twice is internationally known and have the potential to become just as big here as the boy band. I don’t know what it is about K-Pop groups, but they work immensely well compared to American groups. So yeah, check them out if you like cute, girly, catchy K-Pop songs!
2.) Highlight #1: Submitting my Thesis
The submission of my MA Thesis was a bittersweet one. Even weeks after doing so, it’s only until now that I feel like the piece is officially complete. Working on my thesis for two straight years is something I never did with a body of work in my academic career, and letting it go to officially submit felt like sending off my 18-year-old child to an out-of-state college. No, I don’t know how that would feel, but I can imagine it felt like the way I did when I submitted my thesis. At first, I was really determined to get honors on my thesis, but when it only passed, I was grateful that it did even that. My thesis was a controversial one, and there were professors that fit the criteria of the “type” of Professor I wrote about who had to read it. I’ve got comments back having them feel quite defensive of my words, but in the long run, I spoke my truth and now that truth will be published as a scholarly work, which is unreal to me.
3.) Highlight #2: The Graduate Research Conference.
After submitting my thesis for review, I quickly had to put a 5-minute presentation together of it and discuss it in front of an audience. It was an extremely stressful week to say the least, but I got up there and possibly did the best presentation I’ve done in my entire academic career. I was so beyond proud of myself for getting my thesis out there, and for having my thesis advisor support me while I was doing it. It was a great way to end my studies as a grad student, and it’s a moment I won’t be forgetting.
4.) Highlight #3: My Mental Health Journey
I decided to add this in here because my journey towards positive mental health played a major role in May. In early May, I got diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and I’ve been going to therapy every week. I decided to seek out professional help because I felt myself not being able to handle my anxiety by myself anymore due to the fact that my anxiety was now about long-term things I had no control over. Grad school made my anxiety a lot worse, and it’s not going to go away now that it’s over. It’s a process to overcome certain obstacles when there’s anxiety involve, and having to speak them out loud instead of having them circulate in my mind has been extremely helpful. Therapy and going to get your mental health checked isn’t always about getting meds and calling it a day. It’s about taking ownership of your own life instead of allowing your disorders or illnesses take ownership of you.
5.) Highlight #4: Graduating Grad School
I won’t speak about this in detail since there’s already a post on this, but it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t include the most important day of 2018 for me. Almost a week later, it still feels surreal that I’m a Masters Grad, and I’m considered a “Master in English”, and it probably won’t feel real until I get my Masters Degree in my hands but it came, it went, and I couldn’t have had for a better graduation. Despite the weather being rainy and cloudy, I have to say this graduation was a lot better than my undergraduate one. It was seriously just one to remember and cherish as my last graduation ever… that’s if I ever go and pursue my PhD, which isn’t in the picture anytime soon.
So yeah! Hopefully, there are more things to try & to do in June; I mean, I definitely have all the time in the world now. ^__^
A year ago, I published a quite negative post regarding how the first year of my grad studies treated me. You can read that here if you’d like.
This time around, I am a recent Master’s Graduate and my perspective on it has changed for the better.
Yesterday, I attended my departmental ceremony and officially graduated grad school. 130 undergrads graduated with their Bachelors in English, and 7 grads graduated with their Masters in English. Within the ceremony, our MA Director did something that was quite touching; she acknowledged all 7 of its graduates and shared to the English Class of 2018 all of our MA Theses titles to acknowledge our hard work during our journey in grad school. For my moment, I felt like my hard work paid off, and it felt great to just have the title of my thesis read because it’s such a body of work I am immensely proud of. I honestly wouldn’t have had the passion and drive for it if it wasn’t for my thesis advisor, Professor Carlo.
Professor Carlo’s class was one of two courses I took during my first semester as a grad student. I was 22, I was naïve, and I was extremely timid and shy to even speak in class. In the duration of her course, I began to see writing in such a different perspective, and I began to express myself in a classroom in a way I haven’t been able to do so since the acting courses I took during undergrad. I felt a sense of freedom and began to get a sense of what my voice was, and I honestly believe I wouldn’t have known this without Professor Carlo’s class. I knew since the moment she said “if you’d like have your final paper become a thesis”, I instantly knew she was the professor I wanted to guide me to the end. And she did, and as a thank you for her dedication, time (and ears whenever I rambled on and on in our meetings), I gave her a bouquet of flowers. I cried giving them to her, she cried as I cried. And that’s the thing: the last time I truly cried at a graduation was in middle school, a time where I was at the happiest in my life and that I knew I was truly going to miss being there with my friends. I cried at my Masters’ Graduation because I was sad it was over and that the journey that I once felt was going to last a lifetime, was now over.
Grad school taught me more than how to research and analyze text on a scholarly level. It taught me the lessons in life I was too afraid to learn on my own.
Prior to grad school, I graduated college not really knowing what the real world was like, and I wasn’t ready to face it because let’s be honest, I didn’t have a hard time completing my bachelor’s degree. At first, I accepted CSI’s “fast-track” into the Master’s program because I felt like I wasn’t done. I felt like I wasn’t done learning, growing, and getting degrees in all honesty. My aunt is the only other person in the family with a Masters Degree, and it was about time that a millennial in the family got one as well. But to be even more honest with myself, I started the program because I was scared of not having a plan, and going to grad school felt like the security blanket that I thought was going to protect me a bit as I got my own shit together.
In a sense, it worsened me.
With every journey comes with some hardships and particularly, grad school gave me a lot of them. I lost most of my friends (old and newish), I lost a lot of my social abilities which created this comfortable bubble of just me writing and getting work done, and it became a reason why I am now seeking out therapy.
It’s how I found out I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
But even with all of this, I’ve learned how to look at it through a positive lens. For instance, I would’ve never gone to seek therapy in the past because I never allowed myself to believe that I was sad/unhappy enough to the point where I needed outside help. Grad school, without a doubt, made me more responsible and more willing to manage things, and with that came this ability to become self-aware of my behavior, actions, and my fears. It made me see myself in a way that made me feel very exposed, and I didn’t have any help trying to get “comfortable” again.
Grad school taught me how to be self-aware of myself & how to acknowledge even the most uncomfortable things in my life. Whether it was me having to wait near the bridge for my bus at 10:30 at night, or writing two 12-page papers in 3 weeks, I was very uncomfortable during my journey. Half of those things caused my anxiety to worsen; half of those things taught me how to cope and make this a temporary “new norm”. There was no compromise in the middle; it was either go for it or let it get you. And I think that’s something so important to know when dealing with an anxiety disorder and/or dealing with life in general.
The future for me is unplanned, and I am learning to be okay with that for the time being. I made it this far, to see this day, to see yesterday, and I know I’ll make it see the future. Grad school taught me there’s no room to be afraid to do something; you’ll never truly know what could be in store if you don’t explore outside of your comfort zone.
It’s okay to be uncomfortable. Being uncomfortable teaches you more about yourself than being comfortable.
Man, I really don’t mean for these titles to be so clickbait like, but I swear: hear me out on this one.
I am one to avoid confrontation with a 10-foot pole. For the past couple of years, I never tried to bring up things or how I feel in situations because I’m always worried about how a person will respond to it. Instead, I try to just ignore my feelings and carry on with my day. While I thought doing so was a selfless act (I mean, I’m not hurting anyone’s feelings by doing so; I’m actually doing the other person a favor of letting it go), I slowly realized just how backward my logic was.
I went to see my therapist for my weekly appointment, and we discussed this concept of being avoidant. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been the type of person to think before they speak (or at least try to). I will always think how the other person would feel if I brought up something that was random and serious all of a sudden. Many of the time, I see myself continuously doing this because I am simply afraid that my feelings or my thoughts will create an even worse situation than I intended to do.
While it is always right to consider how a person might feel when deciding to talk about how you may feel, keeping how you really feel to spare the other person’s feelings isn’t as great of a deed you think it is.
It’s actually worse in retrospect.
Now, I’m not saying tell your friend that her dress is ugly after she told you she feels really good wearing it. I’m not saying that at all. What I’m saying is that the more you bottle up your emotions for the sake of avoiding conflict and/or discussion, you’re hurting not only yourself, but the person you are interacting with.
Personally, I find it hard to bring up my feelings about conflicting issues because the second I decide I want to bring it up, I constantly think “well, what happens if that person doesn’t take it well and it results in you guys fighting?” Instantly after that, I’m back at keeping it in and ignoring it. Doing so is such a temporary feeling to a long-term issue, and in all honesty, you’re not allowing the other person to have a say, hindering their opportunity to express themselves.
Not every situation will have a good turnout. There will be times where the other person will not agree with what you have to say, and that’s completely fine. Communication in social/personal/romantic relationships is such an important device when hashing out issues you may overall have. Plus, you never know: the other person might feel the same way you do as well.
You never know if you don’t talk.
Talking about your feelings and letting them be known to whoever is around you isn’t an act of being self-centered. Talking about how we are feeling creates honesty and compassion, and it makes you extremely self-aware of who you are and what makes you happy, sad, mad, etc. I’ve learned that anyone who is willing to call you self-centered or selfish because you share how you feel without a filter isn’t really interested in who you are as a person; they are typically just people who want to be around for a good time.
Be unapologetic for what you are feeling. Allow your thoughts to open up a conversation that might be needed in order to move forward with something. Give back what you want from people and listen to what they have to say; you would want the same thing in return.
And the same thought goes with hiding your feelings; you wouldn’t want someone who you care about just hiding how they are feeling when they are clearly upset over something. Also, you would want a chance to talk things out and move forward with whatever you and the other person are going through.
The next time you feel like hiding your true feelings about a situation for the sake of the other person involved, remember that you’re just showing them that it’s okay to shove things under the rug without resolving it, which will only come back up whenever you guys are in another sticky situation.
*This post contains minor spoilers regarding the second season*
As many of you may know, the second season of 13 Reasons Why started streaming on Netflix last Friday. While many people decided not to watch another season of last year’s most controversial show, I decided to do so for many reasons why. (Did you get the pun?)
Anyway, I wanted to see this season because I was now truly invested in all of these characters stories and because this season was not a part of the original season and its novel, it felt a lot like watching someone’s fan-fiction of these characters, and I like that a lot. If you didn’t read my post about the first season last year, you can read that here.
The first season left me with a lot of emotions, and it brought back memories of my own that I thought I was over for years now, and maybe I am over them, but the scar will always leave a reminder that it happened. A lot of things in the first season scarred me; a lot of the things that were depicted in the first season were graphic and in my opinion: necessary. I’m not saying two rape scenes and a suicide one didn’t do anything for me, but it did put me in a place where I first saw the reality of what it was like being in those situations, and many viewers probably haven’t either. Do I think they could’ve gave their viewers a better warning, most definitely, and the show learned from their first mistake and made sure to let viewers know this time around what was expected.
Because now we know what to expect from a show like 13 Reasons Why, we could prepare ourselves better this time around while watching it. Let me tell you I binge-watched the entire first season by pulling an all-nighter, and when I finished the show literally 9 o’clock that morning, I was a complete wreck. The show stuck to me longer than it should’ve, and eventually I actually started to feel a bit of sadness myself because of it. This time around, I made sure I gave myself time to take a break from it every now and then and return once I felt ready. A lot of the discussions between the characters made me really think about myself, and a lot of those times that’s when I had to stop and gather myself before proceeding. This is a really heavy show that I believe not everyone can handle and watch, and that’s perfectly fine. For those who can, make sure you take what is shown and start a conversation about mental health.
With that being said, the second season felt a little bit more laid-back, if I could even call a show like this that word. Despite the bathroom scene in episode 13 from 37:00-39:00 which I forced myself to fast forward because I didn’t want to see literal torture, the show just dealt with a lot of drama and a lot around the case on trial. In a sense, a lot of the situations these teenagers were putting themselves to felt a bit disconnecting and weird in my eyes (I mean, the fact that these kids were missing school left and right to handle their shit without repercussion felt odd to me). Also, the interactions these kids had with their parents and other adults felt a little off as well. It felt like the teenagers weren’t even teenagers, but young adults in the middle of their college careers.
Another thing that bothered me a little about this season is that the acting didn’t hit as hard for me like it did in the first season. But with that being said, a complete standout for me this season was Brandon Flynn’s character, Justin Foley. In season one, absolutely no one was rooting for Justin; many of us (including myself) was happy in a way that Jessica told him to fuck off after what happened at the party. This season, he’s a completely different person and not because he’s a recovering addict, but we see him grow throughout the entire season, and we see just how there’s always two sides to one story. Brandon Flynn did his thing this season and because of his acting, I am completely invested to see where he goes from here on out.
Regarding the story-line of Bryce Walker and Jessica Davis and the incident that happened in the first season, I personally feel like how that plot went about was realistic and connecting. Anyone who is a victim of sexual assault, no matter how minor or severe, feels as if they are stuck. We as viewers saw Jessica think out loud all of the second season, and I really liked that. Reporting sexual assault isn’t the same as telling someone someone stole your lunch money or something; this is opening up about something that personally affects you and the way you’ll live your life, and the fact that half these women who are brave enough to even speak up end up not getting the justice they deserve or get slut-shamed for “being a certain way” or “looking a certain way”. The show makes it known that in the midst of the #MeToo movement that sexual harassment/assault, toxic masculinity, consensual sex, and feminism being about empowering every woman (including intersectional), be added to the list of conversations we need to be having in this day and age.
And now some of my biggest concerns regarding the season:
Let’s put this out there: the bathroom scene in the 13th episode was absolutely unnecessary and felt like a filler to add shock value to a show notorious for having one. The two rape scenes AND the suicide scene in the first season was a lot already, yet the second season really needed to add something so horrific and disturbing that at first placed my judgement on even watching the show. Personally, I feel like the show treated Tyler poorly, and not because of that bathroom scene. The show depicted Tyler as a kid who was quickly spiraling down to the point where he wanted to commit a mass shooting at the high-school. Again, a very sensitive topic this day and age knowing that just this past Friday 10 students were killed at a high-school by a mass shooter. What the show did to Tyler as a character was show us the typical “personality” and “reasons” a student would want to commit mass murder. Tyler was socially awkward, quiet, he kept to himself, he was bullied, he didn’t really have any friends, he was smart, and he was ultimately a loner who tried to be something he was not and couldn’t get out of it because he was already going through so much. While most of the people on Hannah’s tapes stood together into fighting for justice for both Hannah, Jessica, and many of the other girls who Bryce presumably raped, Tyler was excluded from that group, finding other ways to seek justice which ultimately was the most harmful way at it. Because I didn’t watch the two minutes that the bathroom scene was, I don’t know what was Monty’s motive for doing what he did to Tyler, but it felt like kicking someone down when they are already down to the ground. It just felt like there was no drive behind the fact that the show wanted some ammo (not literal) to throw in the fact that Tyler was gonna perform a mass murder.
Regarding that last line, the way that the incident was handled once Tyler got to the school felt very unrealistic. What teenage boy in their right mind is going to stand in front of a semi-automatic rifle, pleading for the shooter to stop what he’s going to do? Stopping someone before shooting up a public school isn’t the answer in how we are going to stop mass shootings in public schools. Doing a goddamn thing about gun control and access to guns is the conversation we need to be having. Clay telling Tyler that “having people talk about it for a week and then forget about it until the next school shooting” was really fucking real, but I just don’t know. The last few minutes of the last episode felt a bit “PSA on an after-school program”-ish for me. I feel like the season should’ve ended with Tyler driving to the school and have the kids who are at the school who know about Tyler’s plan look at each other like “what the fuck are we gonna do?” It would’ve allowed writers to sit down and handle what was gonna happen a year in advance before the next season (which I know there will probably be). The ending they decided on felt too disconnected and out of the entire season, in my opinion.
Other than that, I feel like this season was a good one for people who like the characters and wanted to see these characters beyond the pages depicted in the novel. I really enjoyed getting to know Hannah a bit better and see how she was through other people’s eyes and their interactions with Hannah before her suicide. What the book more so does is depict Hannah as a victim who did nothing wrong besides get involved with the wrong people and because of those said people, she killed herself. What this season introduces to us is a side of Hannah many of us aren’t familiar with (even Clay), but we are reminded that suicide victims are human too: they make mistakes and they are capable of hurting people too.
If you’re invested in these characters, I say watch the season with caution, still. Know whether or not you want to see certain parts. Make sure you take breaks in between episodes. Know that it’s okay that you do not think this show is good for you to watch regarding your own reasons why. It’s just a show trying to start up conversations that many people aren’t strong enough to start.
Hey, guys – welcome back to TNTH after its very long hiatus!
With the semester finally over and graduation just a few weeks away, I can finally focus my energy on TNTH and provide some new content for you guys! I’ve missed writing on here for many reasons, and one of them being that I have so much to share with you guys. It feels good to be back.
With that being said, I wanted to share something that I mentioned a while back on here about mental health and not being ashamed to ask for help if you need it. I’ve been going to therapy for the past month.
The act of going to therapy gives me anxiety every time I have to get up and go, and only because I know I have to go and talk about things that I’m uncomfortable with. I’m still in the early stages of therapy so I’m very much still trying to build a relationship with my therapist, but I know once I get into the swing of things, that anxiety will go away. In my first session, I actually learned a lot about myself that I couldn’t see due to my anxiety. Everything I was concerned about, my therapist told me that it was impressive of me managing in the way that I do, and that my best qualities are the ones I’m not taking consideration for. For example, I told her that I’m a bit of a “control freak” because I tend to find comfort in having every project in my life outlined, and she told me that it’s not being controlling, but organized. The point is that I have to start seeing things from a positive perspective; not everything I do/am is negative.
While there are so many other things I’ve discussed with my therapist, I walked out of the session feeling lighter and more… at ease if that makes sense. Like I felt like I didn’t have anything bothering me or causing me stress on my walk home, and it felt pretty good. I didn’t feel ashamed of going to someone’s office to talk about my issues instead of just talking to a friend, I felt like I had a better understanding (and motivation) to start seeing things differently and applying the things my therapist told me into action.
In modern day society, the conversation about mental health is becoming one that many more of us are joining. People deem mental health was “crazy” and “ill” when really half of the time that’s never truly the outcome. Mental health is just as important as physical health because you should always seek help no matter what type of pain you are in. The misconception of mental health and therapy has discouraged a lot of people to stray away from it; in a recent study by Refinery 29, more than half of Black and Hispanic Americans are more than likely to never seek therapy in their lifetime due to the stigma it carries. Therapy isn’t this place where they hold you against your will if you say something like “I feel sad all the time”, therapy is a just a place provided for you to talk out the things that are bothering you, and hopefully get unfiltered advice and techniques to overcome those issues.
Many people my age go to therapy because the struggle of living in a city like NYC while juggling college and jobs is a lot. Times aren’t how they were when our parents were our age, and sometimes as a 20-something young adult, we constantly feel burned-out and stuck in the position we are in. Therapy, for many of us, is just a place where we could get extra help and guidance in order to move forward with our lives. It’s not this place where you have to be deemed as “insane” or “crazy”, and for the love of the god you believe in, it is nothing like the depiction that television and movies make it out to be. It’s not talking about zombies eating your cereal in your dreams and asking your therapist what it could possibly mean. It’s not you talking for an hour straight while the only words your therapist say are “and how does that make you feel?” It’s not a padded room with 3 security guards holding a stray jacket waiting for you to say something crazy. It’s not that different from visiting your normal doctor, to be honest.
If you’re thinking of reaching out and asking for help from your primary care doctor, please don’t feel ashamed of doing so. There are thousands of people like you who seek therapy possibly for reasons related to yours. Yeah, sometimes it’s hard to seek out help and talk about things that make you uncomfortable, but one thing my therapist told me that I’ll probably always apply to is that you have to accept that it’s okay to be uncomfortable, because it will get comfortable all in time.
Therapy is just the first step into bettering yourself, and the biggest step to take in the process. After that, it gets better.
Last week, I wrote a post talking about speaking up about mental health and becoming more aware of it so that the process of seeking help wouldn’t be as difficult. I admit that it took me years to finally put my pride to the side and to reach out for professional help for some anxiety I’ve developed over the last couple of years. With that being said, I wanted to talk about something that was once the running joke on the internet: triggered.
I personally don’t know where this “joke” started, but I started to notice a lot of the YouTubers that I watched starting to mimic the joke, or simply use the word in everyday conversation in the context that the joke was portraying it as. At first, I will admit, I didn’t see the harm in it. I didn’t see the harm in it until people started to use it in the context that if they saw an actual person “triggered” in a situation, that person’s trigger was looked at being a joke. Many people who deal with mental illnesses and have their own triggers started to speak about and express their distaste for a joke that clearly wasn’t funny. Just like everything trending on the internet, it eventually died, and “shook” took its place and all seemed right in the “internet trending meme world.”
But to some degree, triggers will never be taken seriously because of it and it is up to you to surround yourself with people who will.