Review(ish): 6 Reasons I’m on the Fence about 13 Reasons Why

Last night, I finished a show called “13 Reasons Why.” Now that it’s all said and done, I’m frankly not sure I should have watched it. And I’m not sure how I feel about it. Did I like it? Not really. Did I hate it? Nah. Too harsh. Did I need to watch it? Not sure. Is it topically important? Yes. Absofuckinglutely. Was said topic handled properly? Sometimes yes. Sometimes no. On the fence here.

Before I begin: If you or someone you know needs help, please reach out. Right now. Right. Fucking. Now. You aren’t alone, and there are people who are fucking eager to help you. Don’t wanna talk to anybody? How about texting? Some awesome people who realize phone calls can be scary have set up a texting crisis line. Go. You’ve got nothing to lose if you’re at that point.

The Premise:

High school girl commits suicide. She leaves thirteen cassette tapes (well, thirteen sides) explaining why she chose to end her life, hence the title. The show follows one particular student as he listens to the tapes, which leads to at least half of the show being presented as flashbacks to when the girl – Hannah Baker – was still alive.

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13 Reasons Why I’m on the Fence (spoilers ahead):

  1. The blame game. No sense in saving this one for last; it needs to be addressed right away. Hannah (and therefore the show) strongly asserts that there are thirteen people responsible for Hannah taking her own life. Not Hannah, the girl who sat down in the bathtub and opened her wrists. Not Hannah, the girl who baited her guidance counselor into failing her. Not Hannah, the girl whose mom asked more than once if anything was wrong. The reason I’m on the fence? Well, that’s easy: it’s realistic. It’s extremely realistic for troubled people, regardless of age and stage in the whole hormones and puberty thing, to seek out people to blame. I think it’s more realistic for us to blame ourselves, but we do point fingers. If only that motherfucker hadn’t… If only she’d listen… If only he’d stay… If only they would pay attention… If only… They all hate me… They’re better off without me… Why do they all treat me like shit?… It’s so. Fucking. Realistic. The problem lies in the fact that teenagers and other people who are in highly susceptible states of mind are watching this show (based off of a book that I didn’t know existed until the end of the show), and they’re thinking…yeah! Fuck those guys! I’ll show them! So where do we draw the line between depicting realistic scenarios and being socially responsible? Do we only show one type of suicidal narrative? Do we avoid it altogether? Do we allow the conversation to occur in all forms? Was the show irresponsible? Or was it honest? Or…was it both? I’d say both. It was honest to the narrative of some and irresponsible to all. Does that mean it should be censored? See what I mean? Fence-rider.
  2. Dangerous implications that are never addressed. There are things shown or implied in the show that never get proper treatment. For example, toward the end, the boy who plays a photographer / stalker is shown stockpiling weapons in a secret compartment at the bottom of a clothing trunk. This is never addressed, but the implications are clear. There isn’t one gun. There are several. And the picture the mind paints in this post-Columbine society is one of an impending black trench coat and a troubled, bullier / bullied boy, going out in a “blaze of glory” in the middle of school, taking out as many students and teachers as he can before he aims the muzzle at his own head. Again, these are conversations that need to be had. The problem is that we are shown one or two images that imply these things, but there is never any discussion about it. It’s merely displayed there and left to you to understand that this is yet another terrible type of fallout from bullying and exploitation.
  3. Soft-core pornification of rape. Two girls in the show are raped: Hannah and her one-time best friend, Jess. As with the previous two points I broached, I’ll also say that this is yet another topic that needs to be addressed. It’s all too often swept under the rug, hidden away as something shameful and secret. So I’m okay with the fact that the show discussed rape, the rape mentality and the conflicted emotions felt by victims and witnesses. What I’m not okay with is the way one scene in particular was drawn out. When it gets to Hannah’s rape, it seemed like the scene would never end. Were producers trying to convey the endlessness of victims’ experiences? Were they trying to make viewers feel as much discomfort as possible without showing rape-porn? Perhaps. And I understand that – we need to be uncomfortable. We need to be confronted with shit we try to hide from; otherwise, it will never be addressed. But the soft lighting? The endless slapping sounds as he took her from behind? The close-up camera zoom on Hannah’s breasts as the perpetrator fondled her and slipped her bra down? Or the zoom on her ass as he pulled her panties down? Was that really fucking necessary? “Hey guys, I need you to get a better shot of her ass! Wait, hang on, there’s not enough tit in this scene! If we’re gonna show a real rape, we need to show WHY THE FUCKING RAPIST WANTED HER?!?!?!” What. The. Fuck. And how long are we supposed to sit there while we watch her body rocking back and forth, back and forth, as she’s being raped? I sincerely think this was mishandled. And that isn’t me saying we shouldn’t talk about rape. We should.
  4. Okay so I’m not done with the blame bit. How many times are we told that Clay, the main character who listens to Hannah’s tapes, is responsible for Hannah’s death? Sometimes he’s told, “We’re all responsible.” Okay, fair enough. Fine. But right before Clay begins his own tape, he asks Tony something like, “Did I kill Hannah Baker?” And Tony tells him that yes, he did kill Hannah Baker. A few fucking minutes into the tape, Hannah says YOU SHOULDN’T BE ON THESE TAPES, CLAY, BECAUSE WHAT HAPPENED BETWEEN US WAS MY FAULT. And yet, the narrative through the rest of the damn show is that yes, Clay did kill Hannah Baker. Is being shy, nervous around girls and somewhat introverted a crime? He didn’t kill Hannah Baker; he only hurt her by his inaction sometimes. Yes, he could have stood up for her a couple times. But fucking hell, is there zero room for “mistake” in life? Not according to this show. You so much as breathe around someone who dies the next day, and it’s your fault. Yeah, we need to have discussions about our roles in each others’ lives. About how we treat each other. About compassion and empathy. But you fucking killed Hannah Baker because you left the room AFTER SHE TOLD YOU TO LIKE A HALF-DOZEN TIMES? Piss right off.
  5. The treatment of authority figures. Throughout the show, the students / kids are taught a myriad of lessons. Whether they stick or not isn’t my issue – it’s realistic that most people aren’t gonna fucking change. And it adds to the true story of how horribly we treat each other, and how we all need to do a gut-check. The kids are shown discussing these matters, though. They at least get chances at redemption, telling the viewers that they deserve another chance. The authority figures? Hmm. Let’s see. Over the course of the show, we watch as Hannah’s perception of her parents grows more and more negative, though I will say they are treated the kindest. Them and Clay’s dad (though he is a bit oblivious, but not criminally so). (Oh, and by the way, of fucking course the victim’s parents – victims themselves – are painted with a soft brush. God forbid they have flaws aside from extremely common arguments over finances. No, let’s save the flaws for everyone else in the show – every last one of them are murderers! Until they kill themselves, then Hannah’s parents morph into villains, too.) Alex’s dad, the police officer, has no redeeming qualities. He’s proud that his sons fight people. He let’s them break the law, regularly. He’s constantly looking for a way to escape responsibility, for himself and his boys. Is this realistic? Yeah, for a lot of people it is. But he’s not even a three-dimensional character. There’s no depth to him and no opportunity for reflection or growth. He’s a stock stereotype. (Oh, and by the way? Alex shoots himself in the head at the end of the show. With one of his dad’s guns. AND WE DON’T TALK ABOUT IT AT ALL.) Justin’s mom and her boyfriend, another set of stock stereotypes: abusive, neglectful drug addicts. Yes, these people exist. But in the show – all the kids get a chance to own up to shit they did and change their ways. Repeatedly, in fact. “Oh you won’t be reasonable in this episode? Well, you’ll get a chance IN EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THE REMAINING TWELVE EPISODES! Your parents? Man, fuck them. Adults suck.” The guidance counselor? He never fully accepts his responsibility and his role in his students’ lives. Realistic for a lot of people, fine. But again, young and susceptible viewers are validated, “SEE! THIS is EXACTLY why I won’t go see Mr. Smith. Guidance Counselors are a fucking joke. AND SO ARE ALMOST ALL ADULTS IN THE HISTORY OF EVER.” There are a lot of shitty adults. Because, all too often, shitty kids turn into shitty adults. But a show that claims to want to help the suicide epidemic is making it worse by telling kids that adults are useless.
  6. How peaceful they made the act of suicide look. When it came time for Hannah’s suicide scene in the denouement? It shows the whole scene set-up, from start…to finish. And it fucking wrecked me. That part, I’m not gonna take umbrage with. It should have wrecked me. People need to be wrecked to take this shit seriously. It’s fucking serious, and people are in danger. The problem I have is that, once Hannah slits her wrists (which it shows – explicitly), there’s no real demonstration of pain. Maybe there is no pain – maybe she’s too numb and in a state of shock to feel it or express it. But you know what’s fucked up? How g-damn peaceful they made it look. I even thought, “Damn. Maybe…I mean, look how easy that was… WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU, STEPHANIE.” I knew right then they’d fucked that part up. She shivered. Hannah shivered. She fucking shivered, then closed her eyes, slid down a little, and peacefully went to sleep while the bathwater turned a warm shade of pink. Yes, suicide is a private thing. Probably often done in silence. And there’s a complete sense of being abjectly alone. But I think creators of a show like this had a responsibility to make it not look like you’re TAKING A FUCKING NAP IN THE BATHTUB. Look. Just LOOK at how EASY it is: a momentary wince and then a nice little nap. <—THAT is irresponsible.

You know what? I’ve just talked myself out of almost any redeeming quality about this show. It’s irresponsible and dangerous. Hell, I knew what it was about going in – and my reaction when it was over? “I should not have watched that show.” I even said that same thing to two people: “I should not have watched that show. I really shouldn’t have watched it.” I was a fucking wreck. And I’m a grown-ass woman with at least like, one or two coping mechanisms. And it fucked me up at the end. I can’t imagine what it’s doing to kids. No, I won’t go so far as to say: ban it. Not gonna do it. But is the show irresponsible? Fucking right it is.

P.S. I’m fine now, by the way. At least from the effects of the show. I’m more concerned with the impact it’s having on kids – or adults who aren’t currently strong enough to fight.

 

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5-Day Song Challenge: Day the First (Or: Slow Cheetahs are not faster than me.)

The awesome Rob at The V-Pub invited me to do a song-a-day challenge thingy. And since I love songs. And thingies. I decided to participate. Plus, it gives me extra incentive to actually show up every day for five days straight. What! To think I once posted every day for like forty days. Who was THAT person?

Anyhoodles. I love – and agree with – what Rob says about music: “It’s something that speaks to individuals in different ways. It’s universal and paradoxically personal.” Yes. That. Yes.

So. Yes. Rules. How I love thee, rules. (Did you hear that? I just snorted.)

Rule Thingies:
Post a song a day for five consecutive days. (Oh shit.)
Post what the lyrics mean to you. (Optional. Sweet. I like options. And crawfish. Damnit, I miss crawfish. Oops.)
Post the name of the song and video. (Not optional. Come on, dudes. This is supposed to be the easy part.)
Nominate 1 or 2 bloggers each day of the challenge. (Fuck.)

Today’s Song

Slow Cheetah – Red Hot Chili Peppers

Yep. Gotta start off with my current favorite Peppers song. (Peppers favorites shift for me. But right now, it’s Slow Cheetah.) Have a listen and take a look at the lyrics, and you’ll see why.

The Lyrics:

Waking up dead inside of my head
Will never never do there is no med
No medicine to take

I’ve had a chance to be insane
Asylum from the falling rain
I’ve had a chance to break

It’s so bad it’s got to be good
Mysterious girl misunderstood
Dressed like a wedding cake

Any other day and I might play
A funeral march for Bonnie Brae
Why try and run away

Slow cheetah come
Before my forest
Looks like it’s on today

Slow cheetah come
It’s so euphoric
No matter what they say

I know a girl
She worked in a store
She knew not what
Her life was for
She barely knew her name

They tried to tell her
She would never be
As happy as the girl
In the magazine
She bought it with her pay

Slow cheetah come
Before my forest
Looks like it’s on today

Slow cheetah come
It’s so euphoric
No matter what they say

Everyone has
So much to say
They talk talk talk
Their lives away
Don’t even hesitate

Walking on down
To the burial ground
It’s a very old dance
With a merry old sound
Looks like it’s on today

Slow cheetah come
Before my forest
Looks like it’s on today

Slow cheetah come
It’s so euphoric
No matter what they say

Slow cheetah come
Before my forest
Looks like it’s on today

Slow cheetah come
It’s so euphoric
No matter what they say

~

I’ve added emphasis to the lyrics that resonate the most with me and, therefore, mean the most and hit me the hardest.

I’m not one to look up song meanings. I’d rather listen. Feel. Soak. On my own. I don’t want someone telling me what the takeaway is. Not even the singer/songwriter. Music is so deeply personal, and lyrics are so often the poetry of my soul.

I don’t need someone to tell me that Slow Cheetah is about being: lost, adrift, alone, aimless, pointless, worthless. And fucking numb and over it all. It’s…euphoric. Right? No matter what they say. And I sure as hell don’t need someone telling me that not what it’s about. Even if it really isn’t. After all…everyone has so much to say, they talk talk talk their lives away. But this song…is deeply personal to me. And for me, it has become about survival in spite of myself, no matter what they say.

Because this is one of the many songs I attribute to saving my life. Even on days when I barely knew my name, this and countless other songs spoke me in the dark. Made me feel seen. Understood. Part of something – even a dark something – and therefore less alone. Not alone. I’ve had a chance to break, so I took that chance – even against my will – and I’m still. Fucking. Here. And no matter what the fucking predatory depression says or does…I’m not alone.

No matter what they say.

A Glimmer of Hope

That’s all you need. Just a glimmer. A hint of a glimmer, even. That’s all. It doesn’t take much. All you’re looking for is one tiny hint of a glimmer…

To survive.

Life isn’t easy. Heh. What a fucking understatement. Life is a pain in the ass, that’s what. Especially when you’re an emotional brooder. I am one seriously angsty, existentially pained person. And I’m not the only one. You ponder the same things, don’t you?

Why am I here?
What’s the fucking point?
What is my purpose?
Why fucking bother?
Who am I?
What does it all mean?
What is my place?
Do I have one?
Am I even real?
What does it even mean to be real?

I don’t have answers to any of those questions. Sometimes I wish I could stop seeking them. But I also don’t wish to cease the quest. Because questing is part of the answer of “Who am I?” I’m a woman on a quest. A tiny speck in the Cosmos on my own personal quest for meaning and purpose. And when it isn’t breaking me down and crushing my lungs, it’s thrilling, exciting. The search, the quest…when I stop asking questions; when I stop searching for meaning and purpose and truth and beauty; then I cease to exist.

I just wish…that I could stop turning suicidal when I cannot find satisfactory answers to the questions that haunt me. Drive me. Push me. Tear at me. Claw at me.

I feel incomplete. And since I know not how to become complete, I devolve into a mass of emotional futility. I begin feeling that I wish I could simply cease to exist. For if there is no purpose for me, for my existence, then it should be extinguished.

But I know. I know that is the depression talking. The downswing of bipolar. What-the-fuck-ever it is. I know that’s what’s doing the talking in those dark hours of my soul.

And that’s what’s talking to you. When you feel like you can’t go another step. Take another breath. Eke out another heartbeat. That’s what’s talking: your depression.

Maybe the people in your life who were supposed to build you up and love you failed in their responsibilities to you. Maybe they taught you that you’re worthless. Useless. A no-account failure.

Maybe you made mistakes in your past, and you’ve never forgiven yourself for them. Even as everyone else around you has forgotten or moved on. Or perhaps their punishments far outweigh your crimes.

Maybe you’re all alone. Or you think you are. But guess what? If you’re here, reading this right now, you aren’t alone. Not entirely.

Listen, I’m no therapist. I certainly don’t have the answers. I’m a mess my damn self. Anyone who’s been around here a while knows that to be true. I’m a work in progress, and I always will be.

But there’s something I do know for sure: if you don’t grasp those tiny glimmers of hope, then you’re in big trouble. No one can grasp them for you. You have to reach out and grasp them on your own.

But we can show you. We can show each other. We can point each other toward the glimmers. Toward the “light.” Toward survival. Toward life.

I don’t have much. Disregarding all the first-world bullshit, I don’t have much in the way of what I think makes a complete life. But you know what? I have to recognize that part of that is my misconception of what makes a complete life. There is no one right way to live your life.

I feel alone. Completely and utterly alone. And you know what? That’s fucked up. Because I have you awesome people here. All I have to do is show the fuck up, and people come and say hi and talk to me and to each other. That’s it. No one can force me to be here. I have to do that part myself. But people point me toward this glimmer. One amazing friend in particular hassles me to show up and write. Hassle hassle hassle. And you know something? When I do, I feel better. Every. Fucking. Time. And I feel less alone.

I still go to bed alone. I still don’t get hugs and affection. I still don’t have someone to sit beside me and play video games with, or read and dissect the same literature with, or tickle each other until we nearly piss our pants.

But I’m not completely alone. And to say so would be a slap in the face to you wonderful people here. This is something I have to remind myself of daily.

I feel worthless. Pointless. Useless. I really do. It hurts, and I’m crying even typing this all out. But then I get reminded sometimes that I do have worth, even if I don’t think I do or I don’t think it’s enough. Because sometimes someone shows up here and says my words touched them. Or they understand how I feel and are glad to know they aren’t alone. And I know that feeling well. I’ve visited some of you and read your words, and I think to myself…I wish this person wasn’t going through that but fucking hell it makes me feel such a sense of relief to know I’m not alone in this. It’s not just me. I’m not some fucked up anomaly.

Maybe you feel trapped and hopeless, like you’re stuck in your current situation with no way out. Or you don’t even know what you want or how to get there. I’ve been there. I know that feeling, too.

I feel like this is all very rambly, but I’m pretty much freewriting right now. Because I had a conversation today, with one of the most important people in the world to me. And he said he was tired. Tired of life. Tired of it all. Just. Fucking. Tired. And didn’t feel there was any reason to go on anymore. And I said, you have to dig deep and discover what those things are that make you want to keep trudging forward. He said he doesn’t want to trudge. I wish I could do it for him. I wish I could do it for all of you. But all I can do is share my experiences and try to give you a glimmer of hope. And I hope with all my soul that you reach for it.

Each and every day, I tell myself: find one thing. Just one thing. And let that one thing be your one reason to get out of bed today. To keep on keeping on. Everyone can find one thing. Just. One. Thing. I got that from this beautiful post that I used to read every single day. Now I read it once or twice a month or as needed to remind myself. Please. Please read it. It’s important for those of you who struggle with me. Or if you know someone who does, maybe this will help them as it helped me. Hell it saved me. I found it because I was googling suicide. I think I googled something like, “give me one good fucking reason I shouldn’t kill myself right now.” And that showed up. And I’m still here.

Let me tell you the sorts of things I cling to, some “big” and some “small.” I put those in quotes, because anything that keeps you going is a Big Fucking Deal.

The things I “trudge on” for:

  • You. Yes, you. The one reading this right now. The community here on WordPress.
  • My friends. I actually have friends now, thanks to this space. And you mean the world to me.
  • The smell of freshly cut grass. Oh I love that smell.
  • All sorts of smells: rain, ocean, sweat, flowers, pot, clean skin, mountain air, pine…
  • The feel of rain on my face.
  • Mountain breezes and cold glacial air.
  • The crunch of autumn leaves underfoot.
  • Thick, dank forest air and the clean sweat from humidity.
  • Laughter, pure and uninhibited.
  • A purring feline nestled against me.
  • Books and words and thoughts and challenged perspectives.
  • Popsicles on 105 degree August days.
  • The new Deftones album I’ve yet to listen to.
  • I want to thru-hike the PCT.
  • I want to jump out of an airplane.
  • I want to sit on the steps of Montmatre.
  • I want to walk the cobblestone streets of Prague.
  • I want to kayak Class IV and V rapids.
  • I want to fix up an old sailboat myself, learn to sail and take that bitch for an epic excursion.

There are so many reasons, y’all. And all you need is one. One reason. One little reason for each day. Maybe it’s the same reason over and over. Maybe it’s something small. Maybe it’s something grand. But all you need is one. And I know good and damn well everyone has at least one.

Find it. Ask yourself what you live for. What your simple and grand joys and visions are. Find them. And then reach out. Reach out for those glimmers of hope. And once you’ve found them and reached for them, pursue them. I will never kayak Class V rapids, until I learn how to control my kayak in Class II and III rapids and overcome my fear of great depths in water. I will never accomplish that sitting on my ass or crying in bed all weekend.

Life is a bitch sometimes. It’s just a point of fact. It would be so easy to pull a trigger and end it all. So. Fucking. Easy. But you’re still here reading, because you’re looking for a reason not to.

Know this: the only thing that 100 percent CANNOT be changed or undone is death. Everything is in your power to change or improve upon. Except your death. You cannot change that. You cannot undo it. You cannot try again. You cannot start over. And you will never get that first kiss. You will never climb that mountain. You will never see that open air opera in Rome. You will never land your dream job. You will never learn how to bake that cake. You will never have that cottage near the forest. If you pull the trigger.

Depression is strong and deceptive. You have to fight it. Fight for your life. The glimmers of hope aren’t going to track you down and save you. You have to extend your hand. Reach for them. Then tomorrow, you can get up and take one step forward. And another step the day after.

And before you know it, you’re no longer surviving.

You’re living.

The Shrinkening Commences

I did it. I went through with the therapy session on Thursday. Reckon it’s past time to update you. But you should know, going in, this is going to be a bitch of a post. Avoid it if you need to.

Have some Portishead for your listening pleasure. This is what I’m listening to while I force myself to get this out.

~

Pre-Game Panic Attack

The appointment was for 1:00 PM on Thursday, so I was at work all morning leading up to it. You’d think that would be a nice distraction, but it wasn’t. Queen Bitch has impeccable timing and went on her worst rampage yet this past week. (I’ll save work for a separate post to try to keep this semi-coherent.) So I don’t know how much of my pre-appointment nausea and vomiting was from therapy anticipation and fear and how much of it was the extreme stress Queen Bitch had me under.

By the time I got myself to the counseling center, I was a bundle of nerves. I smiled at the receptionist and filled out my paperwork. Thankfully, I was alone in the waiting room. I had so much pent up anxiety, I felt I could literally bounce off of the walls…and not in a fun way. Imagine severe chest pain, heart racing, rapid breathing, roiling stomach, my leg bouncing up and down ninety to nothin’, mouth chewing on a hoodie cord, eyes scanning the room for every minute detail, hands twisting and squeezing each other. That was me, pre-therapy Thursday. It took everything I had to stop myself from bolting.

Off to an Anticlimactic Start

The counselor finally fetched me from the waiting room at around 1:05. (Yeah. That pissed me off.) Let’s call her Diane. Tall, blonde, forty-something Diane. At least she’s older than me, I thought. They nearly placed me with someone who graduated this past May. I cringed. Maybe it seems superficial, but it’s far less about age and more about experience.

Anyway. Friendly enough, on the surface. She smiled and shook my hand, led me to her office. While the waiting room makes the building look new(ish), Diane’s office was poorly appointed. Seriously, her chairs and couch had tears in the upholstery. I kind of approved, because I don’t want to be therapized by someone with a mahogany desk and all leather furniture. She said I could sit anywhere – I just took the chair facing her desk. I asked permission to place my wallet and keys on her desk, then shoved my fists in my hoodie pockets and willed myself to not bounce my leg and look around the room like a crazy person.

I began relaxing a bit at this point, because Diane spent the first few minutes filling out paperwork. A differently formatted document with the exact same information I’d already filled out at reception. Full name? Address? Social Security Number? Bust size? (Kidding, she didn’t ask for my social.) (Got you again. Look, it’s a good sign that I’m at least trying to joke, right?) Then she went over their policies and her personal qualifications. Twenty years as a counselor with this same group. Good sign, right?

I’ve been doing this for a long time, okay? And I’ve worked with every age group, but I no longer work with children. I did for many years, but I had to give that up. I work with people like you now. And don’t worry. You’re perfectly normal. You’re definitely not crazy, right? You’re not crazy. You’re just sad. You’re here because you’re sad.

I hope it doesn’t offend you when I use words like “normal” and “crazy”…

And just like fucking that, she’d formed her opinion and diagnosis of me. I walk through the motherfucking door, am able to show up and shake her hand and be calm and civil. And I’m just sad. Nothing more, nothing less. So glad this process was so fucking easy.

Then she grabs her little legal pad and starts in with her own standard list of questions, the answers to which she notes on her pad:

Have you received counseling or psychiatric treatment before? No.

Do you work? Yes, full-time.
What do you do? I sit at a computer all day.
Oh, do you like it? Yes, it’s so much fun.

*chuckles* Relationship status?
Well, it’s like this…
Children? No.

Parents? Married/divorced? Living? Location?
Uhm. Uh. Well. Uhm. See. Well. *breathes* They divorced when I was little. They’re both still alive, last I heard. Uhm. Uhm. I think. Maybe. I think. Maybe. My mom is maybe in town again. My father lives in _____.
I see. And what sort of relationship do you have with them? I don’t. *fidgets*

Siblings? One brother and one sister.


Do you want me to give you more details? I’m not sure how detailed you want my responses.

She then went into this long spiel explaining the two different ways of approaching counseling: starting from the past and working forward or starting in the present and working backward. She said that people usually had a preference, but she doesn’t. She just looked at me, and I just looked back.

All this time, Diane has been looking down at her phone. Look at me, ask a question, look at phone, note my response on the pad, look at phone, look at me, ask a question, look at phone, note my response….forget what she asked me and ask me again. Yeah.

I finally broke the awkward pause with something like:

Well, I’m not in any danger. I mean, if you want me to start by talking about my childhood, I’ll do that. If you’d rather hear about what’s going on right now, I can do that, too. I don’t know what I need or what’s best, really.

On Unprofessionalism and Suicidal Ideation

It was at this point, this crossroads of sorts, where she finally asked me what had led me to be there that day. She had her checklist and wanted to go by rote, and I wanted to know what we were doing and why. So she asked me. What led you here?

I’ve been depressed for years. And while I managed it best I could for a long time, it’s spiraled out of control over the last couple of years. And now…and now…my thoughts have gotten so dark that they scare me.

depressed-person

“Tell me what you mean by ‘dark thoughts.'”

Suicide. I think about suicide every day. And. But. Well. You see, it’s not so much that I want to kill myself. It’s that I don’t wish to be alive anymore. I don’t want to feel this way, but I can’t seem to make it stop.

“I’d call that danger.”

I’m sorry?

“You just told me that you aren’t in any danger. And now you’re telling me you think about suicide every day. Ongoing suicidal ideation is serious danger. Do you really think about it every day? Do you have a plan?

Well, I mean I think stuff. Bad stuff. You know. But I don’t have a plan. Like a specific plan. You know, written down. I don’t have a plan. No. And I would never do it. I would never act on it.

“Then tell me what you think about. Specifically. Tell me exactly what goes through your mind in your so-called dark thoughts. What do your suicidal thoughts look like?”

Well. I mean. Okay. Okay. There’s a gun. In the closet. And. Well. I think about the gun. And I think about…you know… (I’m crying now, talking softly. twisting my hands so much they’re throbbing in pain.)…I think about how it would affect other people. And I don’t want to make it hard on someone who finds me and has to clean up after me. So….so I wouldn’t do it in the house. I’d go outside. To the backyard. And…and I’d do it there. So I wouldn’t make a mess of the house or damage it or make it hard to sell after I’m dead. You know? That’s not really a plan is it? I guess that’s a plan.

But I wouldn’t do it. I’d miss or something and end up disfigured and living in a convalescent home.

She wrote “gun” and “plan” and something else on her pad. “You have a gun in the house?”

Yes.

“What else do you think? Are there other ideas?”

Well. This one. This one’s really bad, and I don’t…I don’t think I should tell you. It’s horrible. (tears are streaming down my face) But. Well. I imagine. You know. I imagine getting in my car. Getting onto the interstate late at night. Driving dangerously fast. Turning my headlights off. Closing my eyes.

But I would never do it. I swear I would never do that, because it would hurt someone else. It just pops into my mind completely unbidden.

“What else? Is there more?”

My arthritis medicine. I get it in three-month quantities. I’ve thought about taking them. All of them. At once. But I know that’s useless. I would just end up with my stomach pumped.

“Stephanie, your name is Stephanie right? Those are plans. Specific plans. And you are in serious danger.”

Somewhere in the middle of all of that, she interrupted me. She had been looking at her cell phone off and on the whole time, and at some point – while having me detail my thoughts on suicide – she interrupted me. Told me to hang on, and then texted her son.

I told her again that these are things I think about, but I’m not choosing to think about it. And I fight so hard not to entertain those thoughts or allow them to linger. But they rise up, unbidden, and I can’t always will them into silence.

On Reasons to Live and Hospitalization

“Everyone has to have a reason to live,” Diane pronounces. “You’ve demonstrated you’re strong and have a will to live. You made the appointment. You drove yourself here today. You kept the appointment. All of this was done of your own free will. Tell me what you live for. Tell me the positive things that you cling to in order to keep going and keep those thoughts at bay.”

I looked at her, my cheeks tear-stained and my eyes clouded, and I said…

I got nothin’

I don’t have family. I don’t have friends. I hate my job. I don’t want to get out of bed in the mornings. I feel sad when I wake that I made it through another night. I got nothin, Diane.

Well. I recently started blogging. And the people I’ve met there, online, are amazing and have offered so much support.

And. And. (crying and practically whispering) I have this…this vague hope that just won’t die. This vague hope that maybe, just maybe there’s a brighter future for me. A happy ending.

She scribbles “internet” on her little Stephanie page and says, “I’m talking about real life here.”

Church? No.
Social club? Like a book club? No.
Bars? No.
Professional memberships? No.
Work friends? No.
Family contact or support? No.
Really? Nothing? Nothing.

She spent the rest of the time between trying to convince me to be hospitalized (she lacks the authority to have me admitted without my consent) and defining “thoughts,” “feelings” and “behaviors” to me. Like I’m a fucking child and don’t know the fucking difference.

Again she told me I’m only sad, and there’s nothing deeply wrong with me. “You’re not crazy; don’t worry.” I tried to tell her there’s a lot more to it. I told her that sometimes I have wild mood swings and get very hyperactive, sometimes happy hyperactive and sometimes angry hyperactive. She said, “Oh, everyone does that. You’re not one of the crazies or you wouldn’t be here today.”

She really wanted me to consent to hospitalization. She said she’d take me in her car, right then and there. She said that no matter how hard people fight their thoughts, that if they’re persistent and ongoing for as long as mine have been, eventually everyone follows through.

Thoughts. Feelings. Behavior. “It is unavoidable. Eventually those thoughts and feelings result in acting out in a behavior. You can’t escape it. It’s ingrained. It is inevitable.”

But I stood my ground. In order to keep her from calling a psychiatrist and having them admit me against my will, I had to agree to some things:

  1. Get rid of the gun. Or lock it up and give someone else the key.
  2. Email her Thursday night telling her I had done so.
  3. Show up for an appointment next Wednesday at noon.
  4. Get a notebook and log my feelings. Like a motherfucking four year old. I can tell her my feelings. I know my feelings. I know my thoughts. And I know my behaviors. Stupid fucking shit.

As yet, I haven’t done any of those things. Though I have made a note in my phone, which I open occasionally and add a time and feeling to.

On Medication

She also told me that medication is unnecessary. That too many people are medicated, and it usually gives you brain damage. “You don’t need medication, because you aren’t crazy. Crazy people have brain damage. That’s what it is! It’s brain damage! But you don’t need it, because you’re normal.”

But. “Seeing as you’re suicidal, medication may not be a bad idea to get your moods regulated. Then during talk therapy, I’ll teach you TFB through CBT and you’ll get right off that crazy person medicine.”

I told her I have an appointment with a psychiatrist on December 21. She was shocked, saying it takes months to get in with one. But my insurance company found one for me. Apparently she’s only going to diagnose and medicate, though. So I don’t know how I feel about it. I’ll at least keep the appointment, though.

Final Thoughts

Diane is crap. She laser focused on one thing and refused to hear anything else about me. And her plan is bullshit and so was her motherfucking brain diagram she scribbled to show me that I’m behaving like an animal on instinct rather than a rational human being. But I know I need help, and if being accountable to that nonsense-spewing unprofessional moron helps me even a small  amount? Then it’s worth it. For now.

I just rambled a buncha shit, y’all, and probably forgot most of it. But I just couldn’t muster up the strength to write sooner. To those of you whom I’ve worried, please accept my sincerest apologies. I’ve had an absolute week from hell, and I’ve pretty much been in bed since I got off of work yesterday. I’ll do my best to catch up on emails and things soon. I miss reading y’all, too!

I’ll be back on the upswing soon, you’ll see. (I believe that. I have to.) Maybe a music party tomorrow or somethin’, hey?

Thank you all so much for your thoughtful messages and support. As always, you’re the bestest.

 

 

Prelude to a Shrunken Head, AKA Stephanie Prepares to be Therapized

P.S. I’m pissed that “therapized” is actually a word. Seriously, I googled “therapize,” and that fucker exists! I was so proud of making it up! Google defines it as “subject to psychological therapy” which is exactly what I meant by it!

Hmph. That’s a buncha bullshit right there. Anyway, yes I totally started this post with a postscript. Deal with it.

So, as you’ve probably guessed by now, this post is about the time I made a class of third graders write haiku about pickles. Except it’s totally not about that. Didn’t you even read the fucking postscript?

I’ve been considering therapy for a long time. I’m talkin’ years. But over the last year or so, my mind has gotten so dark that it frightens me. It’s time. It’s past time that I seek help.

The phone calls were hard to make. But I got help and was also told where to go if I need urgent care. I have an appointment for next Thursday, a week from today. And…and I’m proud of myself and also freaking right the fuck out. I need to get some things off of my chest, because I still can’t think straight. I can’t think of any funny anecdotes to share or anyone to slam in a humorous way. So I need to purge some darkness. Here goes.

~

MEMO

To:          Therapist
From:    Basketcasephanie
Date:     I don’t think that’s allowed between us, but thanks.
RE:         Things I wish you knew but will never be able to tell you in forty-five minutes.

MESSAGE

Trust – I don’t trust you. I’ve never met you, and I don’t trust you. You’re a woman, first off. And I’ve never not had my trust betrayed by a woman. I know you’re a therapist, and you have rules and blah blah blah. But you’re also human. And I don’t trust humans. Especially female ones. I know there are some great ones out there. I know. But I’m scared to open up to you, and I wish you knew that. I don’t want to spill my guts to you, only to find you either can’t help me or are dismissive of me. And I will live with the fear that you’ll tell all of my secrets. I don’t think you can help me. I think you’re a waste of my time and money. But as a dear soul recently said to me, I know what I’ve got right now. And it’s not working. So why not give something else a shot? So I’m giving you a shot. Please don’t break my trust and abandon me like everyone else has.

Please prove me wrong about you.

Lost and Afraid – I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how to do therapy, and I don’t know how to do life anymore. I’m afraid if you can’t help me, no one can. I did go to therapy once. I was a child, and in some set of circumstances (the details of which I’m not privy to), my mother was required to take me to therapy. She took me and my sister to a counseling center for battered and abused women and children. I know we went several times. I remember the dark wood staircase and banister. The narrow foyer. The closed doors and hushed voices. I remember shaking and being afraid to speak.

I had to do Rorschach tests – I had to do a lot of those. They asked me a lot of strange questions. But the last thing I remember about that place is when they required us to draw pictures of our family life, specifically anything that upset or worried us. My sister drew this simple, common little family picture. A house in the background and a line of stick figures holding hands. I remember backing into a corner, going mute and refusing to move. I had this mixed feeling of fear that I would be punished for disobeying and fear of the consequences of drawing what was in my head. So I shook and stayed quiet and fought the urge to pee on myself. That’s the last time I remember going.

I’m scared you’re going to make me open up wounds for you to stare at and leave them to fester and rot. You’re going to ask me to draw mental pictures for you, then you’re going to send me on my way with a bandaid and an invoice. But I don’t know how to do life anymore, so here I am.

I’m still that scared little girl, cowering in the corner and trying not to piss her pants. I will have a panic attack in your office. I’m going to shake and sob and choke and dry heave.

Please help me.

Depression – You should know I’ve been depressed for so long that I don’t remember what it’s like to be free from it. You should know that I’m severely depressed. I have suicidal ideation, and the imaginings in my head are specific, planned and visual. You should know that I have no support system in my daily life, so I’ve reached out to people online. The loneliness I feel has seeped into the marrow of my bones, spread itself out and taken over my body and my mind. It’s rooted there, and I don’t think I’ll ever be free of it.

You should know that I hate myself, and I expect you to hate me, too. You should know that sometimes, when people talk to me, instead of listening, I’m smiling on the outside but screaming “FUCKYOU FUCKYOU FUCKYOU FUCKYOU SHUTTHEFUCKUP LEAVEMEALONE” over and over in my head. This will happen when you talk to me, too. Another reason that I don’t think this talk therapy bullshit is going to work.

I’m unhappy with myself. I’m unhappy with my job. I’m unhappy with my past. I’m unhappy with my present. I’m unhappy with my stagnation. I don’t want to get out of bed in the mornings. I sleep all weekend to escape the maddening loneliness and the dark thoughts. I don’t take care of myself. My house is a wreck, my clothes are wrinkled, my hair stays in a messy ponytail, and I don’t give a fuck. I don’t give a fuck about you or anyone else or what you think or whether I live, die or grow mushrooms out of my ass.

But I do care. I’m drowning, and you’re my last hope.

CPTSD – You should know I suspect I’m suffering from CPTSD as well. I’ve never recovered from childhood abuse. I’ve never recovered from being emotionally, physically and sexually abused. And I hate myself. I hate myself for being weak. I hate myself for not getting over it. I hate myself for not speaking up when things happened. I hate myself for not holding people accountable for their crimes. I hate myself for considering it crimes, when so many suffered so much worse. And I hate myself for diminishing it. I just hate myself.

Every time I’ve seen him, even as a woman in my thirties, I feel an urge to piss my pants. I shake. My voice shakes, my body shakes. I shake all over and I have a visceral reaction. I get nauseated, tense and void my bladder. I’m scared to death that you’re going to tell me to confront him and refuse to continue treatment with me when I refuse to do so. I will not confront him. I will not go to him, regardless of what he’s going through right now. Fuck him and fuck you for suggesting it.

Please help the terrified little girl inside of me. Please don’t make me talk to him.

Bipolar Disorder – My uncle is a severe Bipolar I. My mother is Bipolar II. I’m afraid and also hoping that you will tell me I’m bipolar as well. I suspect Bipolar II, like my mother. I’m afraid, because I swore I’d never be like her. But fuck me if I haven’t turned into that depressing, reclusive, manic crazy person who shuts out the whole world. Except she’s a selfish bitch. I at least missed the boat on that, mostly.

But I’m hopeful because it would make me feel relief to know that what I experience is happening for a reason. That my severe depressive episodes, intermingled with swings high up into the rafters, laughing, playful, energetic and making grandiose plans for my life, then back down to hyper anger, then back down to deep dark suicidal depression, that all of that is happening because of a real condition.

But I’m also hoping that’s not it, because I know I have real, valid reasons for being depressed. Loneliness does things to a sensitive, emotional person like me. It fucks me up. It really fucks me up. And yet it’s hard to let anyone in because of severe trust issues. But…but…does that explain the intermittent mania and mixed episodes? The incredible difficulties with sleep?

Whatever it is, please tell me it’s treatable. I can’t stand this suffering anymore.

Social Anxiety – I can’t stand to be in public. Just being in this room with you right here and right now is making my skin crawl. Are you looking at me askance? I saw the way you looked at my size. I saw the way you looked at my unkempt hair and wrinkled shirt. I know my hoodie isn’t professional like your pressed blazer. I’d live my life within the confines of my house if I could. But I can’t. So I exit the premises, each and every day, with great reluctance and lead in my stomach.

I hate grocery shopping and put it off until there’s nothing but tap water and moldy cheese left. Because of the people. They look at me. They think hateful thoughts about me. They whisper to each other about me. They accuse the contents of my cart. They snicker at the way I walk. This is how I feel, everywhere I go, in public. I don’t have friends; I don’t talk to my neighbors; I don’t socialize with my coworkers. I don’t leave the house unless it’s mandatory – work, grocery, fuel, etc.

As I entered the door here, to this counseling center, I wondered how many people I knew saw me. I wonder if the insurance company will report to my employer that I’m a headcase. I wonder if you’ll go home and tell your spouse about the neurotic woman who wasted your time today and dirtied up your couch with her presence. I fidget, I shake, my heart races. Can you help me coexist with other humans, without thinking everyone is out to get me? Can you help me not want to literally run and hide when some coworker asks me to lunch?

Can you help me be normal?

Self-Harm – I hurt myself. Not with knives or scissors. Not with booze or pills. I pick and rip and tear at my skin. Around my nails, on my chin, on my arms, on my thighs. It’s disgusting and shameful, and I can’t fucking stop. It hurts, and it scars. I don’t like it. I’ve tried hitting myself when I do it. It doesn’t work. I’ve tried coating sores in ointment, but I just wipe it off and do it again. The scars I have will always be there, but I’m tired of making new ones. I just don’t know how to stop.

I don’t want to hurt myself anymore.

Self-Worth – I don’t feel worthy of your time. I don’t feel like I deserve to be here, when there are people in greater need and more deserving than I am. I’m afraid you’ll find me insipid and petty. I don’t want you to tell me to fucking love myself, okay? If you tell me that, I may fucking walk out. Don’t do that. You’re a therapist; don’t fucking talk down to me with canned bullshit. You don’t tell someone who thinks she’s a piece of shit that everything will be right as rain if you just start loving yourself. Don’t you think I would if I could? I don’t feel like I deserve anything good or nice or lovely or pretty or sweet. But I’m here anyway.

I’m here anyway, because no matter how fucking hard I try to kill off my last piece of hope so I don’t get hurt. Again. For the zillionth time. I can’t stop hoping. Hoping for something better. Hoping someone will prove me wrong about myself. Hoping I’m worth it. Hoping there’s a reason to this charade called life. So I’m here. Talking with you.

Please give me reason to hope.

~

Forty-five minutes isn’t enough time. And I’m upset and anxiety-ridden that I have to return to work after this. You will rip things open and send me back out into the world. Please. I’m begging you. I’m begging the universe. Please make it worth it.

Please fix me.